Larry Watson Montana 1948 Book Review
Montana 1948, written by Larry Watson, is a coming-of-age domestic fiction based in America. Likewise, Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey shares the same genre with Montan 1948. Still, it is located in a town called Corrigan in Australia. They both happened in a period where racial discrimination was rife in their respective countries.
Montana 1948 explores David’s change in his life, and readers can identify him as he matures from an innocent boy to an anti-government supporter. For example, David views his uncle as an idol. Still, he second-guesses his identity after the incident with his Sioux maid. Montana 1948 tells a story about David, a 12-year-old child who has been enjoying a joyful life till he found out his Sioux servant got infected with a disease and was forced to be treated by a doctor named Frank.
He was introduced as a friendly uncle admired by many people, especially David. However, it was later revealed that he was hiding his true identity. Frank was corrupt and frequently abused and harassed Sioux females. As the story progresses, David’s view of him starts to worsen. Jasper Jones explores the theme of identity through the eyes of Jasper Jonas and partially through Jeffrey Lu.
We take a deeper look into how they are both treated by the whites who believe they are the superior race. On the other hand, Jasper Jones introduces Jasper Jones as an aboriginal and Jeffrey Lu Charlie’s best friend as an Asian. From the community point of view, aborigines and Asians are viewed as inferior races.
As we advance through the story, we can see how terribly aborigines and Asians are treated. In the beginning, before the summer of 1948, David’s view of his uncle Frank was that he was a hero, a doctor, someone he could look up to. However, one day when Frank finished a medical visit to David’s Sioux maid, David overheard a conversation about Frank secretly from his parents.
As the story progresses, we slowly discover that Frank was a sex abuser, murderer, and a huge racist. An example would be when Frank visits females who are not white. Still, Sioux would take advantage by raping them and using their traditional beliefs to hide the truth. Whenever they would complain to the authority, it was basically impossible for them because Frank was white with a lot of power, making him more believable.
Another example of Frank’s true identity shows near the end of the book when he murders Marie Little Solider for coming out with the truth of Frank Hayden raping various women like her and ending up getting murdered by Frank for redemption.
This results in David’s view of his uncle’s identity changing from a hero to a selfish criminal who does whatever he wants to whoever he wants. In Jasper Jones, they introduce two characters who are different from the others named Jasper Jones and Jeffrey Lu. Jasper is an aboriginal who is constantly blamed for other people’s crimes and other problems and thus becoming the scapegoat of the town. Jeffrey is a Vietnamese who is continually receiving racial slurs and physical abuse.
Corrigan is considered an extremely racist town that embraces many kinds of discrimination and race harassment. The white people in Corrigan believed that anyone besides white is inferior in many ways and is even considered worse than a dog. Jasper is seen as a criminal throughout the story from the community’s perspective.
An example would be near the start of the story, when Laura Wishart, the romantic partner of Jasper Jones, was found hanging on a tree. Jasper and Charlie immediately decide to bury the body in the middle of the river because the police would blame Jasper for his race and history with Laura. Furthermore, Jeffrey has also received unfair treatment. He would frequently visit the cricket field to enjoy the sport but end up getting bullied by being excluded from the group, having his stolen, and being called ‘Cong,” a racial slur.