Montana 1948

Topics: Decision making, Woman, Stereotype Pages: 5 (2048 words) Published: September 2, 2012
English Essay By Raymond Nguyen .
Hello my name is Ray, today I will be discussing the novel we have been studying; Larry Watson's 'Montana 1948". Watson's stereotype of a 1940's housewife is depicted through the characters Enid and Gail. The reader is shown throughout the text of female characters re: to take the backseat in relationships and that their place is in the home. Merce County during the 1940's, this idea is shown to the reader constantly by Larry Watson in the novel. Watson presents this stereotype as one that can be tested; only if first the character chooses to do so. Both Enid and Gail have the power to push these limits and be heard only when they free themselves from the stereo type in question. It is very hard not to think of Enid and Gail as people who comfortably fit the mould when every other female does. So Gail tries to use her power to sway the outcome of decisions but this ultimately does not work, this is not surprising due to the social rank of females in this area. ****

Gail and Enid push the limits of a 1940's housewife when they are fighting for the love of family protection. When Gail is faced with an adverse situation dangering her family she immediately acts out of the mould 1940's society has set for a houswife; where as Enid saves her family from being torn apart by distance when sending mail to Wesley when they have moved apart. Gail has been free from the stereotypical restrictions the housewife has when Dale Paris had come to break out Frank she had taken flight immediately, "You get away from there! do you hear me?" Gail Hayden makes the decision to turn from housewife into figure of power and authority not previously seen in the text which is a turning point in the noval. Watson used the Shotgun she wielded as a symbol of masculinity for the housewife. Enid Hayden also chooses to break the mould when she defies Julian and sends mail to Wes; this is an apparent change from her normal behaviour "Enid wrote to us regularly". Earlier in the text Enid seemed a robot and follower of Julian in his ideal's this devide in her framily prompted her to keep in touch so she would not loose contact the mail she was sending is used as a symbol of Enid overcoming the grip Julian has over her. Both occasions where these characters have tested the mould; were for love and family protection. ****

It is hard not to think of Enid and Gail of low powerless figures when 1940's society fosters this idea of females with low authority. In the 1940's females were widely accepted to take the back seat in relationships and did not have much to say in important decisions and were expected to follow their husbands ideals without voicing their own. Larry Watson sets Enid Hayden up from the beginning of the text to be perceived in this way as the stereotypical housewife would be. Enid is a good example off this, usually sitting voiceless and opinionless behind Julian, "Didn’t Enid want to say that Frank was her son too". This is a crutial point in the text because not only is Enid present but she is not even making herself heard during the discussion of her sons fate. Watson further belittles her opinion by her absence in the text as a whole emphasising the point that 1940's housewives are shown to look and even feel powerless whilst not being included in discussions. So we associate this idea with Enid and Gale but it is not always so. ****

Gale Hayden has the power to test the limits of the stereotypical 1940's housewife but not enough to make the important decisions in the Hayden household. Gale has the power to question Wes; with enough leeway to make him think about his decision, but ultimately Wes makes the final call, "If my mother said it, it was so. Yet my father's confirmation was still necessary". Gale plays a large part in Wes' decision making process but cannot seem to sway things in her direction, 'I'll handle this Gale in my fashion'. Not only Wes, but it seems all the males in the noval...
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