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"Montana 1948 shows that racism can have tragic results"
Montana 1948 shows that racism can have tragic results
Angelia Holliday
'I have a dream… they will not be judged by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character…' Martin Luther King jnr.

Larry Watson's thought provoking novel, 'Montana 1948,' is the retrospective tale of a childhood event told by the protagonist David Hayden, forty years later. The story evolves around the alleged professionally unacceptable behavior of a physician, David's uncle, Frank Hayden, who uses his power and privilege against a 'largely passive and benign,' as well as ultimately powerless minority group, the native American Sioux Indians. In the novel, the tragic events stem from racism, but not in the sense of 'antagonism towards other races.' The racism depicted in Montana 1948 is not literally the persecution of another race; essentially, it is the dismissal of another race. David comments that his father 'did not like Indians.' He then corrects this statement, saying, 'No, that's not exactly accurate, because it implies that my father disliked Indians, which wasn't so. He simply held them in low regard.' The Sioux Indians are deemed inferior, and therefore their concerns are ignored by the superior white society in Bentrock, resulting in the tragic death of Marie Little Soldier.

Among David's primary recollections concerning the events of 1948 is the realization that Marie Little Soldier's bedroom was 'a small room off the kitchen,' despite the fact that there was a 'third bedroom' vacant on the second floor – the floor where the white people slept. 'Who decided that room should not be Marie's?' Despite the Hayden's tolerant and benevolent appearance, and their adequate treatment of Marie, they obviously are subtly influenced by the prejudice based on the belief in the superiority of a particular race. Wesley 'was not a hate filled bigot – he probably thought he was free of prejudice.' Wes was able...

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