Larry Watson’s novel, ‘Montana 1948’, shows a young boy aged at just 12, David Hayden, having to face a new journey and shocking incidences that will take him from innocence to adolescence in the year of 1948. At the beginning of the novel David’s life was a stable and happy life and he still carried his innocence around with him, along with his parents they were a tight and a loving family together. David’s awful exposures lead him to his painful gaining of understanding. Then the scandal of the Hayden family was unleashed, and in result David has been forever disturbed. His innocence has perished because of his Uncles actions. David is just a normal boy living a not so normal life. This being because not many kids have a sheriff for a dad and a doctor for an uncle, but mainly just having the Hayden name in general makes his life not normal. David loves the wildness of nature where he experiences the most serene happiness when he is out in nature because he finds it a peaceful and fascinating place to be. David also loved his family as any 12 year old boy would, his uncle Frank was his role model, he looked up to his grandfather because he sees him as a tough, dominating character in his life. Whereas his father, although being the sheriff, who “didn’t even look like a western sheriff”, was described by David affectionately, but also with great disappointment. It was the actions in 1948 which have ruined David’s thoughts on daily life situations. It first began when he had found out that his role model, Uncle Frank, had raped two Indian girls who were in his care because he was the only doctor in town. David’s heart sank when he had heard this because he had always looked up to Uncle Frank and he was completely devastated by this. Before David was even a teenager he thought that his Uncle Frank was the best man in the world; he was “a star athlete”, “handsome”, and “a genuine war hero”. “Witty, charming, at smiling ease with his life and everything in it”. Uncle Frank had changed David’s thoughts about him from just finding out about him raping the two Indian girls but David now knows that he also molested his beloved Marie Little Soldier, the family’s Sioux housekeeper who was ill and was having to be treated by Uncle Frank. Marie was unfortunately violated and eventually murdered by Uncle Frank. When his uncle Frank commits suicide David is able to feel appreciation for him, thinking that by committing suicide he had erased the public scandal which was looming over the town. These two deaths have left David forever disturbed and emotionally damaged. After these two deaths occurred in the house they decided to move house. David knew that his mother didn’t mean just leaving the house but leaving Bentrock as well.
David is now a grown man who has become an adult and who believes in nothing, but has been left forever troubled by the events of 1948 in Montana. The suicide of David’s uncle Frank and the murder of Marie Little Soldier are the two main events which have turned David from innocence to experience. David is resentfully and emotionally damaged and his innocence has perished because of his Uncle Frank’s criminal acts. David does what his mother has always wanted David’s father to do and became a lawyer. He says that getting away from Bentrock allowed him to steer clear of having the same life as his father had, which was based on a lie.
We see that the death of David’s role model, his uncle Frank and the murder of his housekeeper, Marie Little Soldier have changed David’s view of the world dramatically. Although David is now a grown man, his childhood in Montana in 1948 and the events that happened there will stay with him forever and may disturb him in some ways for the rest of his life.