Montana 1948

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TOPIC 2: Racism is the perception the colour of one’s skin determines how they can live. Indian are mistreated and misunderstood in the novel Montana 1948? Discuss

In Larry Watson’s Montana 1948, Indians are misunderstood and wrongly judged. The main theme in Montana is racism and how strongly it played its part in society back in 1948 The book is based on twelve year old David Hayden’s memories of the events of his life in Montana. David is the son of Wesley Hayden, town sheriff and Gail Hayden. When the Hayden’s Indian housekeeper Marie Little Solider falls severely ill, Gail and Wesley suggest calling Wesley’s brother Frank, their close family member and local doctor. When Marie hears this she falls into hysterics and refuses to see a doctor. It is at this point in the book when the first act of misjudgement occurs. Nobody knows why Marie is so against seeing a doctor, but everybody just assumes it is because of her heritage – Indians were assumed to seek healing from Medicine men and potions instead of highly educated doctors. Regardless of Maries requests the Hayden’s call Frank and schedule and appointment. When he comes to visit, Marie screams to Gail not to leave her alone with Frank. Gail accompanies her through the examination. “A doctor comes and they think he’s some evil spirit or something.” Frank stated on page 42 after examining Marie. This statement shows that Frank has a stereotypical image of an Indian in his head, and though his eyes, they are all delusional, spiritual followers. He despised his idea of Indians and thinks that they are socially out of place.

Later in the book we discover that the town sheriff, Wesley Hayden is also racist. After all the commotion made during Marie’s appointment, Gail is informed that Frank Hayden is a serial rapist. We find out not only does he use his profession to take advantage of his patients, but he targets only Indian girls. When Gail tells Wesley this...
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