Montana 1948, by Larry Watson, is a story told by twelve-year-old David. The narratorwatches his family struggle with the concepts of loyalty and justice.Wes Hayden, David’s father, is controlled by his family name, forsaking his law careerand stressing his marriage to please Grandpa Hayden. When Wes learns of a situationinvolving his brother, he has to decide how to proceed as the town’s sheriff. His actionsresult in unforeseen consequences and family strife, and David watches from the sideand learns about family, duty, loyalty, and honor.
Characters:The Hayden Family TreeGrandpa and Grandma HaydenWes and Gail Hayden Frank and Gloria HaydenDavid Hayden
Mercer County, Montana1948The story takes place in the fictional town of Bentrock, the sole town in MercerCounty (also fictional), located in the northeast corner of the state.
•Character against self Wes struggles withhis decision on how to deal with his brotherFrank•Character against another Wes has to facehis wife, brother, and father in making hisdecision•Character against society and self Wesmust choose between his duty to the lawand his loyalty to his family
•We have an obligation to do what is right, even when it is costly toour personal lives.•Parents have the responsibility of guiding children.•Our actions, even our moral actions, have consequences.•In some situations, justice is never achievable.
Each reference to the wind details ordefines an event or foreshadows anupcoming event.Fence styles show us characteras we know Grandpa is tough byhis barbed wire fence and UncleFrank is hiding something withhis imposing structure.
“We all know whathappened – we know it isthere, in our shared past,we don’t deny it, but wedon’t talk about it, as ifkeeping quiet is a matterof good manners.”Larry Watson, Montana 1948 (174)SourcesWatson, Larry. Montana 1948. Pocket Books: NewYork, 1993.“Pioneer Faith Trilogy.” The 1999 Montana PowerSummer Symphony. Montana Power Company.