Montana 1948 Summary & Study Guide

Larry Watson
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Montana 1948 Summary & Study Guide Description

Montana 1948 Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

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David Hayden is twelve in the summer of 1948. He and his parents live in Montana where his father, Wesley, is the sheriff of Mercer County and his mother, Gail, works in the county courthouse. David lives in town, across the street from the courthouse, but loves spending time at the farm of his grandparents, Enid and Julian Hayden. Julian had been sheriff of Mercer County until his retirement and Wesley campaigns for the position at his father's urging and with his backing. Despite Wesley's obvious efforts to live up to his father's expectations, Julian favors his other son, Frank. Frank is a physician and served in the military, both facts that have earned him the devotion of the people of Mercer County.

David, because his parents both work, is often left in the care of an Indian woman called Marie Little Soldier who takes care of the house. She has David's devotion because of her constant good humor and the fact that she's less stringent than all the other adults in his life. When Marie falls ill, it's David who first alerts his mother. When Gail tells Marie that she needs a doctor, Marie objects. Gail and Wesley believe that Marie simply prefers traditional Indian doctoring, such as a medicine man, but they call Frank anyway. When Marie grows frantic, Gail remains with her. The diagnosis is pneumonia. After Frank leaves, Marie confides to Gail that Frank had sexually molested her and that she isn't Frank's only victim.

Confronted with obvious proof of guilt, Wesley tells Frank that he's going to be arrested. Frank, citing the scandal that will follow if he's taken to the county jail, pleads with Wesley to keep him out of the local jail. Wesley agrees to let Frank remain in his basement until other arrangements can be made. When Frank's wife learns of the situation, she calls Frank's parents and Julian tries to intimidate Wesley into releasing Frank and dropping the charges. Wesley refuses and four of Julian's hired hands try to break him out of the house. Wesley is on the verge of releasing Frank but cannot bring himself to do so because he is certain of Frank's guilt. The family spends a sleepless night with Frank breaking the jars of canned fruits and vegetables stored in the basement. When Wesley goes down the following morning he is resolved to take Frank to jail, regardless of his brother's objections. However, he finds that Frank has slit his own wrists.

As sheriff, Wesley calls in only those who must be involved and Julian manages to coerce the funeral director to keep quiet about the true cause of Frank's death. The story of an accident is circulated and Frank is buried as a tragic hero. David had hoped his uncle's death would put an end to the family problems but finds that to be untrue. David and his parents move from Montana and Wesley takes up law practice. They hear occasionally from Wesley's mother but the family ties are effectively severed.

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