Essay Montana 1948 “Don’t blame Montana! ” He said, “Don’t ever blame Montana! ” Who is to blame for the events of 1948? Discuss Montana 1948, by Larry Watson is novel set in American mid-west that raises a question who was to blame for the tragic events that occurred that summer. David Hayden the narrator of Montana re-collects powerful information that uphold his father Wesley Hayden losing control of himself and his emotion to his daughter-in-law due to the fact, she commented it was the “wild west” who was to blame.
It became vibrant to the reader, that in response to Wesley’s actions that Montana was truly important to him and he would not accept anyone that held Montana responsible from the events the occurred within the summer of 1948. By clearly stating that Montana was not to blame, Sheriff Hayden means that it was the whites in Montana as well as his family and himself who were held responsible from the events that arose within the summer of 1948. The whole white population within Mercer County were partly responsible for the terrible events of Montana 1948.
The social environment was one that favoured the white people’s value and discriminated against the Indians. The Indian’s lived away from the whites in little reservations allowing the Indians to have little or no contact with the white people. This had already proved the racial treatment within Montana. Furthermore Ollie Young Bear was an Indian but he was accepted from the whites because he lived as white. He was successful through every aspects of life and married a white woman. But the Indians, on the other hand had regard believing that Ollie young bear wouldn’t “be happy until he was white. The white societies within Montana were all well aware of the crimes committed by Frank against the Indians. When Wesley and Gail were to take action on the claims made by Marie about Frank’s wrongdoings, David heard a remark made by Daisy McAuley saying “Just the squaws though. ” Daisy comment showed a racial statement about Indian women. It appeared that Daisy was justifying against Franks actions, because in her eyes Indian women were worthless and deserved the way they were being treated.
After the conversation between Gail and Daisy, Gail informed Wesley that it was “around town more than you realize. ” Gail’s statement proved that a lot of the citizens within Montana knew of Franks activities but choose to “look away” just like Len, Deputy Sheriff chose to do. It was the racial treatment of the white people that overlooked Frank’s actions which led them responsible for what occurred within the summer of 1948. Julian Hayden is the head of the family and holds great power within his family and the community.
Therefore Wes has a boundless deal of obedience and loyalty towards him. When Gail informs Wes of Frank’s actions, Wes’ first response was “I don’t want this getting back to my father. ” This showed how important it was to Wes, that his father doesn’t not get upset. However, it turned out Julian already was well aware of his favourite son’s wrongdoing but took it as a joke by stating “I wouldn’t be surprised if there weren’t some young ones out on the reservation who look a lot like your brother. Julian chose to side with Frank, as he thought very little of the Indians as he considered them to have lower status compared to the whites. Julian challenged Wes’ arrest of his brother by saying “Some Indian thinks he put his hands where he shouldn’t and you’re pulling out your badge? ” Furthermore Frank also holds some responsibility to what happened in Montana. He abused his power as a doctor which led him to murder Marie Little Soldier and eventually commit suicide.
Frank’s status in the community was that he was a genuine war hero and a doctor but sadly, he misused his status by molesting Indian girls and in some cases raping innocent women during private medical sessions. Frank was smart, because he knew no one would comfort him for his action because of the reputation of his family name and by the fact he had power. When he went to examine Marie at Wesley’s house, he made an assumption about Indian and how “they are used to being treated by the medicine man. But a doctor comes around and they think he’s the evil spirit. Throughout the novel, Wes makes a deal with Frank for him to stop what his doing and he wouldn’t press charges, but when Frank murdered Marie just to ‘get rid’ of his past and all the evidence, Wes doesn’t hesitate to arrest his brother. Thus, Julian and Frank hold a countless obligation to the events that occurred within the summer of 1948. Finally, the keepers of the law, Sheriff Wesley Hayden and his deputy Len McAuley must hold responsibility for what events went wrong during the summer on 1948. As sheriff, Wes had a duty to ensure the law was being upheld equally for both races.
He failed to do this for a long time, first by denying his brother’s offences “I’m sure he does things to all his patients” and later by denying his arrest, “he’ll have to meet punishment in the hereafter. I won’t do anything to arrange it in this life. ” Due to his lack of responsibility it led to the heartbreaking death of Marie and David’s entry fee of having to see his Uncle Frank at their house on the day of her death, this impacted Wesley to act upon his brother Frank. As a result of Wes arresting Frank, it causes further complications within the family.
Julian responded by trying to free Frank by using violence and then Frank taking his life. Wesley finally realized that postponing justice from an earlier stage of the events had himself in some contribution to the tragic deaths of Marie and Frank. It was Wes himself, who failed to uphold the law, had failed Marie and all the Indian women; therefore he must be blamed for the tragedy, not Montana itself. However, Len failed to uphold his role as Deputy Sheriff, which acted upon his role in the tragedy.
He obligated the Hayden’s, it was them that gave him his position as deputy “I have this job. Deputy Sheriff, which I owe to your granddad and your dad”, therefore he believed in “knowing when to look and when to look away. ” Therefore, Len was both powerless and unwilling to challenge Wes’s inactions. Together, both these representatives of the law hold a responsibility to the events which occurred within Montana 1948. Montana 1948 clearly states that the events that occurred within the summer could not be blamed on the state itself.
The Hayden was part of a culture that distinguished against the Indian people and overlooked crimes against these people. Due to the racism treatment the Indians coped from the white people it led Frank to get away with his corruptions. It seemed that the power, wealth and influence the Hayden had within the community was much more important than the rights of the Indians to receive justice and respect. Julian and Frank also take part of the blame due to them taking benefit of the power they had.
In delaying justice for so long in order to protect his family, Wesley found himself denying justice towards the Indians and having obligation in the deaths of Marie and Frank. Wesley obviously admits that Montana shouldn’t be blamed for the events the occurred within the summer of 1948, when he attacks his daughter-in-law by defending a topic that meant a lot to him. He indicates that the white citizens that lived in Montana at the time, his family and he himself were the ones who were to blame for the tragic events that occurred within Montana 1948.