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Montana 1989

In: Novels

Submitted By z727629029
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Hennessey 1
David Hennessey
Profesor Trump
Writing 130
7 December 2015
Analysis of Racism in Montana 1948
Racism, a mental state that is derived from the divergence of groups, has impacted history through centuries, even in the contemporary world. Racism is a power that can decide the fate of a whole race, or the life of a person. In Montana 1948, Marie, an Indian girl, is a tragedy caused by racism of white people who show prejudice in different levels against Native
Americans. Racism is a theme that the author clearly wants to present in his novel. In this paper I will explore racism and analyze its influence to the plot and characters of the novel.
This novel shows how racism affects individual's behaviors. Among the three people who show racism—Wesley, Julian, Frank—-their prejudice influences the plot in different ways.
Wesley's prejudice to Native is much like an inherent discrimination from a high-status person to a low-status person, which contains less malice compared to the other two characters. Wesley's racism actually does not have significant impact on advancing the plot; however, Julian's discrimination distorts his judgment to the abusive behaviors of his son, Frank. For his prejudice to Native Americans and preference to Frank, he weakens the severity of his son's crime and send his employee to release Frank from the basement of Wesley's house with violence. Last,
Frank' racism is more like a contempt of Native Americans's social status and human rights, and results in his abusive behaviors toward Indian girls and the ignorance of their human rights. His

Hennessey 2 discrimination is not depicted expressly but causes the struggle that derived from divergent attitudes to Frank's crime among family members.
Although Wesley is generally depicted as a positive character, he shows racial behaviors in the first chapter in both explicit and implicit ways. He stereotypes Native Americans as an ignorant, lazy, superstitious and irresponsible race (22); from this explicit discrimination, he considers himself as superior whereas the Native American as inferior. Also, Marie must sleep in a small servant’s bedroom (15), even though there is a empty bedroom at the second floor. This discrimination is not described explicitly, but still reveals that Wesley does not treat Marie in a fair way. His prejudice causes him to consider Marie's unwillingness of seeing a doctor as a
"Indian superstition" (22), and doubts if she ever was seen by a “real” doctor. His "superior" viewpoint causes Marie's encounter with Frank as well as her death. Wesley' s prejudice to native
Americans causes him to stand on his brother’s side initially and thinks Marie probably doesn't know what's supposed to go on in the examination (34), but Wesley is not a deep racism, and most of his racism is presented in the first chapter. Later Wesley abandons his prejudice and reacts to the case from a fair viewpoint.
Compared to his brother, Frank shows intensive racism, though the racism is not specifically depicted in the novel compared to his brother and father. Frank is a blatant racist, which is revealed by his brother who believes that Frank thinks less of Marie than of a dog (144).
Frank' s distorted preference to Native Americans is much more than a mere "preference". This prejudice makes him to overlook the human rights of Indian girl. When he sexually assaults them in the name of diagnose (34), he actually does not consider Native Americans as an equal race to

Hennessey 3
Whites. His reckless criminal behaviors show that his prejudice to Native Americans is much seriously than his brother's, even his is disclosed by Marie indirectly.
The final character who shows racism is Julian. Julian's impression is a stubborn old man who sticks to his racial views. He uses "red meat" (62) as a insulting metaphor of Indian girls and shows extreme antipathy to the fact the Frank is partial to Indian girls (66), also he tolerates his son's behaviors forward to Native Americans, which fuels Frank to commit those crimes.
Even after Julian has been informed of the crimes that are committed by Frank from Wesley, he still dismisses the abuse of Native Americans as unimportant and thinks Frank is supposed to have beaten up some Indians (110). He holds the viewpoint that the assault and victimization of
Native Americans is not a crime worthy of punishment, so he ignores the crime committed by
Frank and send his employee to release Frank from the basement in Wesley' s house. (125).
Julian's racial viewpoint is similar to but much deeper than that of Wesley—a confirmed conception that looks down Native Americans.
Finally, what is worth mentioning is the potential influence of the three people' s racism on David, the narrator of the novel. David, before the main plot in the story, is strange about racism and Native Americans, and his caretaker, Marie, does not match the impression of Native
Americans; however, the elder members of his family affect David' s subjective norms. After
David hears the blatantly discriminatory comments from his father toward Native Americans, he starts to realizes the world is not bright as he once thought. Children are born innocent, and
David is not influenced by racism until he contacts the verbal and behavioral discrimination about Native Americans from his grandpa, father and uncle.

Hennessey 4
In conclusion, Frank's abusive behaviors to Indian girls are the main plot of the novel, and the discrimination of his brother and father fuel Frank's behavior and the tragedy of Marie.
Frank belongs to their family and Marie belongs to the group which they discriminate. Their discrimination distorts their justice, so their judgement deviates from the justice and they turn to support Frank. Racism has been confirmed deeply in the three main characters' minds, and is modeling David's mind. Native Americans face the situation of being treated unfairly, and they are forced to abandon their cultures and accept Western cultures, and this discrimination is inherited from the elders to the kids. 


Hennessey 5
Work Cited
Watson. Larry. Montana 1948. Misseaplonlism, MN: Milkweed Edition. 1993. Print

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