Saturday, November 6, 2010

Montana 1948: Summary Opinion

A transitional story

Montana 1948 is more about a twelve-year-old boy’s transition from childhood to adulthood and less about the uncovering of sexual malevolence by a famous local war hero.


The main plot of Montana 1948 is about how the town doctor, Frank Hayden, is discovered to have been taking advantage of his Indian patients.  He used his MD to coerce women into taking off their clothes, in some cases even raping them.  Through the course of the story, which is told through the eyes of a twelve year old boy, various clues surrounding the mistreatment of an Indian maid surface. 

The Evidence

Generous evidence against Frank is found, leading to his arrest and later suicide in jail.  Apparently Frank cared more for the opinions of others than for his appalling actions, otherwise he would have committed suicide before everyone found out.


The physical events of the Montana 1948 are secondary to the transition to adulthood by David, the narrator of the story.  In the beginning of the story, it is clear how David idolizes adults.  He particularly looks up to his parents and his uncle Frank.  It is a classic childhood fantasy, for one to idolize one’s parents, to give them much power over ourselves.  It is necessary for our survival. 

The problem comes when we are physically adults but we still have childhood expectations.  Many psychological issues stem from this basic fact.  David’s childhood ideals are systematically smashed throughout the story.  As each clue about Uncle Franks misdoings is discovered, reality becomes more and more apparent to David. 

Through a Child's Eyes

The world does not seem quite as safe for David, but he learns quickly to adjust.  A few times, like when he pretends he does not understand adult things that he actually does understand, are instances when David is choosing to act like a child instead of embrace adulthood.  For the most part, he emerges from each test victorious.  Had David chosen to deny the things that he heard or saw, he would have continued living as a child in his family and missed this great opportunity to grow.  David took a chance, and breathed in the unknown, facing the truth and growing a great deal in the short summer of 1948.

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