A Timeless Struggle: Knowing the Right Thing to do and Doing the Right Thing
Author Isaac Asimov once wrote," Never let your sense of morals prevent you from doing what's right." This saying came to mind while reading both Montana 1948 and Brokeback Mountain. The authors, Larry Watson (Montana 1948) and Annie Proulx (Brokeback Mountain) both write stories with the internal conflict of man vs. himself. In Montana 1948 Larry Watson's main characters the Hayden family cope with a situation of sexual abuse that forces them to search for their moral base and choose between right and wrong. Each member of the family begins at a different in their moral expedition, but eventually end up with the same internal resolution. Similarly, in Annie Proulx's Brokeback Mountain, the author sketches a picture of two men who live in a constant struggle with their ideas of morality. Rationalizing and avoidance exist as Jack Twist and Ennis Del Mar's main internal defense mechanisms. Proulx presents a devastating study of Jack and Ennis' subsequent struggle with both their families and their work as they try to come to terms with their sexual relationship.
To begin in this examination of the moral code of the American West, we turn to the relationships and struggles brought about in Larry Watson's novel Montana 1948. In this novel, there exists conflicts between several of the characters, however; the main conflict lies within the characters themselves. The reader sees the Hayden family struggle with the realization that the town doctor, their relative, has been molesting young Indian girls. This situation forces Wes Hayden, the town's sheriff and the doctor's only brother, to choose his actions towards this ethical dilemma carefully. He deliberates on his situation throughout most of the novel, relying on his wife's set-in-stone morals to guide his decision in some ways. Through this interaction, the reader sees that some people who were...
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