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Montana 1948 traces David's journey from innocence to an awareness of the existence of evil. Discuss

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Shekhar Shastri Text Response "Montana 1948 traces David's journey from innocence to an awareness of the existence of evil. Discuss. Larry Watson's novel 'Montana 1948' is undoubtedly a compelling tale about the young David Hayden's journey from innocence to an awareness of the existence of evil. During the tragic events which take place set against the 'Wild West' backdrop of the town of Bentrock, the Hayden family feud continues to smoulder. From this, we see David's loss of innocence, the presence of evil in the town community, and through all of this, his journey from one state of mind to another. However the novel is also one which focuses on other issues - the tireless efforts of parents to shield their children from reality and the painful getting of wisdom. The novel traces the tragic events of August 1948 through the recollections of the adult David Hayden, whose loyalty to his parents had prevented him from writing about his traumatic loss of innocence until both had died. ...read more.


However, David discovers what murky depths lie below through Gail's condemnation of him. Therefore, when his sexually criminal actions are revealed, David's high regard for his uncle takes a sudden down turn. "I was already thinking of Frank as a criminal," reflects David. Julian is, as David discovers, the commanding figure of evil in Bentrock. He is rich and respected. However, he is also a racist and a demeaner of those he considers "weak." David grows to realise this through his grandfather's actions. During the celebration of Frank's heroic return from war, Julian stands up on a table and calls upon Frank to give a speech calling him "My son", without paying any attention to Wesley. This callous statement shows Julian's cruelty as he publicly rejects Wes as his son demonstrating that he believes he is a weakling for not being able to serve in the war. The crimes that Frank commits cause tremendous tension between the Haydens. ...read more.


Perhaps the gain of wisdom about family, loyalty and law are most evident through David's experiences of the demise of his family cohesion and the choice between law and loved ones. "After what I observed as a child in Bentrock, I could never believe in the rule of law again." Following Frank's suicide, Gail Hayden's inability to "...live with the lies concocted in the aftermath of Frank's death" force Wesley, David and Gail to leave Bentrock to go to North Dakota, where Wesley becomes a lawyer and the three live the rest of their lives trying to ignore the smouldering family dispute of August 1948. Through the events of 1948, David above all became aware of the potential for cruelty and evil "within all humans." During and after his life in Bentrock, David matures and becomes conscious of the severity and impact the events of August 1948 had on the Hayden family. However, his inability to discuss this matter with his parents is a result of the events which turned him from an innocent, na�ve boy into an experienced, sad and bitter man who "...could never believe in the rule of law again". ...read more.

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