Montana 1948 part one comprehension questions
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MONTANA 1948 – PART ONE COMPREHENSION QUESTIONS. A young Sioux woman lying on the bed “feverish and delirious” coughing so hard David is afraid she will die His mother in the kitchen on a hot and windy day, trying desperately to load a shotgun, but fumbling. She is intending to fire the gun.

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A young Sioux woman lying on the bed “feverish and delirious” coughing so hard David is afraid she will die

His mother in the kitchen on a hot and windy day, trying desperately to load a shotgun, but fumbling. She is intending to fire the gun.

His father, kneeling on the kitchen floor, begging and pleading for his mother to help him

David recalls 3 significant images from the summer of 1948…what are they?

  • The death of Marie Little Soldier is foreshadowed in the prologue. Her death and the subsequent events which it sets into motion are to be examined as a seamless whole by our narrator, David.

What significant event is being foreshadowed?

  • Bent; dishonest, corrupt; a bent cop

  • Rock; A solid mass; used to refer to someone or something that is extremely strong, reliable or hard; to cause great shock or distress to (someone or something), especially as to weaken or destabalise.

  • It is in ‘Bentrock’ that scenes of twisted morality and skewed justice are to take place.

The town’s name is Bentrock. What might this symbolise?

Describe Mercer County, Montana

How does David portray his father, Wes Hayden, the town sheriff?

What expectations do Gail [his wife] and Julian [his father] have of Wes?

What does the narrator reveal about his twelve-year old self?

Who is Marie Little Soldier and what is her role in David’s life?

At the end of section 2, Marie falls ill. What are your thoughts on Maries reaction to Gail’s proposal to call upon her brother-in-law, Doctor Frank Hayden?

In sections 3 & 4 we are given insights into Wes and Frank’s racist attitudes towards the Indians. Provide some examples

  • Look at character charts.

The narrator provides further descriptions of the Hayden men – Describe each member of the Hayden family.

  • Wes – honest, insecure, mild tempered, unsure, ambivalent

  • Julian- arrogant, authoritarian, racist, overbearing

  • Frank- charming, unfaithful, criminal

Sum up each Hayden Man in just one word

  • When Frank enters Marie’s room and shuts the door, she immediately screams and shouts for Gail – “Mrs. Mrs.!” “No! Mrs.!”

  • Gail then is invited to enter the room by Frank, who is “shaking his head in disgust.”

What happens when Frank enters Marie’s room?

  • When outside on the porch, David maneuvers himself to best hear anything that happens in Marie’s room. He hears her say ‘no’ twice more.

  • As his father goes to get Frank a bottle of beer, David remarks that he wants his father to hurry as “after what just happened to Marie, [he] doesn’t want to be alone with Uncle Frank.”

  • His mother’s reaction – pp 42 -43

How do we know that David is aware that there is something suspicious about Uncle Frank?

  • Frank acts as if Marie’s hesitation to see a doctor is somehow related to her being a native American –”they’re used to being treated by the medicine man. Or some old Squaw”

  • Frank acts as if her defiance against seeing a doctor or getting an x-ray is in some way related to her race, rather than the fact that Frank has sexually assaulted his patients in the past and Marie is aware of this.

  • Wes is reassured when Frank panders to his racist views, however the reader knows Frank is lying as Marie has already states that she usually sees the other white doctor in town, Dr Snow

  • Irony that 1948 is already half way through 20th century and Indians are surviving.

How does Frank ridicule Marie’s illness?

  • Gail reveals to Wes that his brother, Frank, has “molested Indian girls.” She tells him he takes “indecent liberties”.

What does Gail reveal to Wes about Frank?

  • When Wes tries to dismiss this information (remember he thinks Indians are liars and Marie is known for telling tales) Gail explicitly tells him the indecent acts that Frank has performed with these girls.

  • Frank asks Gail why she is telling him this. He wishes she “wouldn’t have told the sheriff” as this means he must act to restore justice, but also must act in a way that could destroy his family loyalty. He is once again a main being pulled in two directions. His allegiance to the power of his own father is set against his allegiance to upholding the law.

What is Wes’ initial reaction to this revelation about his brother?

  • “Charming, affable Uncle Frank” is gone for good for David. Although not yet entirely convinced of his guilt, his mother’s words have frightened him. David is beginning to think of his uncle as a criminal.

David eavesdrops on this conversation between his parents regarding Uncle Frank. How does this change his perception of his Uncle?

  • Daisy McAuley’s comments, “the word is he [Frank] doesn’t do everything on the up and up…just the squaws though” (p.51) confirm the suspicions of Uncle Frank

  • It is interesting that it seems to be a well known rumour about Uncle Frank, yet no one in the town has done anything about it due to a combination of the good name and power of the Haydens as well as the well established underlying racism of the town. The fact that it is “just the squaws” he does this to somehow makes it less of a crime in the eyes of some. This quote reinforces the depth of racism and discrimination in the town of Bentrock

What do you make of Daisy McAuley’s comments?

  • He [Wes} was not only her husband, he was also a brother… (p52)

    David now understands that the disclosures about Uncle Frank have inevitably damaged both his mother’s and his own regard for his father. This marks a significant change in David’s awareness of adult relationships.

  • “I [Wes] don’t want this getting back to my father.” (p53)

    It is here that David suddenly understands that it is the misplaced loyalty Wes has towards his father which stands in the way of justice. It is this moral dilemma which becomes the central focus of the novel. Wes knows his brother is guilty of raping defenseless girls yet his allegiance to the power of his father is set against his allegiance to upholding the law.

  • “And my father knew he [Frank] was guilty.” (p54)

    David waits breathlessly to hear his father say that he doesn’t believe that Frank has sexually abused Indian women, yet his silence condemns him and David can no longer ignore the truth that Frank knows his brother better than anyone, and he knows he is guilty.

Explain the following:

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