Larry Watson, in “Montana 1948”, uses the motif of light and silence in many ways to develop, clarify and reinforce ideas about truth and injustice, and portray the nature of some characters. He illustrates the injustice in Bentrock through the motif of light and then demonstrates to the reader the occurrence of something wrong through the motif of silence. The motif of light also sometimes assists the motif of silence to emphasize the significance of the event.
Watson utilises the two motifs to effectively depict that 'Montana 1948' is a tale about the struggle between truth and justice in a racist society. During the tragic events which take place in the 'Wild West' town of Bentrock, misuse of power and reputation is seen through the tyrannical characters of Julian and Frank Hayden (study mode, 2013). However, despite the persona of his father and brother, Wesley Hayden contradicts his family name, and acts honestly and with strong moral beliefs (study mode, 2013).The motif of silence emphasizes the theme of injustice when Wes and Julian Hayden are having a conversation about Frank’s indiscretions with Indian girls and David notes ‘The silence was so sudden and complete I thought at first that they saw me’ (p 72). David is surprised Julian hasn’t done anything about it yet. The motif is used to accentuate the injustice in the society.
The motif of silence is also used to explore theme of injustice when Wesley, Gail and David are driving home silently from the ranch. The silence foreshadows major role reversal as Gail argues for the law and Wes answers that God will punish Frank. Gale is outraged and upset. She argues “sins – crimes – are not supposed to go unpunished” (p 85). Wes argues that Frank will stop and prosecuting Fra...
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...he night before. While he thought things were not all good, we know from the noise that nothing wrong has happened. The morning that Frank dies, the light is ‘overcast, dim, so there was no sunlight flooding my room’ (p 154), all foreboding that Frank’s death will cover the truth. Wesley tells David that everybody pays for their crimes but ‘that doesn’t mean the sun’s going to shine’ (p156), indicating that justice is not always served. In ‘Montana 1948’, the author uses motifs to convey his ideas of truth and injustice and pushes the reader to consider the suffering of the Indians. The motifs intensify these themes and create an atmosphere to encourage the reader to accept the idea that Bentrock is unfair and unjust.
Montana 1948 Essay, 2013. Study Mode. Retrieved March 15, 2014, from http://www.studymode.com/essays/Montana-1948-Essay-1469424.html