Plot Prolog: David as an adult looking back on the events of 1948 and how he remembers 3 important people his father his mother and Marie little soldier Part one: we are introduced to the town and the post war way of life of the people in the town of Bentrock. Then Marie little soldier gets sick and needs to see a doctor but when Gail suggests she sees uncle frank she does not want to see him, but she is convinced to see him anyway. After the visit the first allegations of sexual abuse surface about frank. Part two: Wes begins to investigate the allegations and the evidence starts to build against frank. Wes confronts his grandfather about it and is not fazed by it at all and try to get Wes to stop the investigation. But a few days later Marie little solider is murdered and frank is the prime suspect. Part three: Wes arrests frank for sexual assault and instead of taking him to the station he locks him up in the basement. Julian comes around to the house and is extremely angry and demands frank to be released now but Wes refuses. Julian is not satisfied and sends a few men that work for him around to the house to brake him out but it is unsuccessful. Frank is finally over come by the whole situation and kills himself. Epilogue: franks crimes are suppressed by the family and then David's family move away from bentrock to the city.
Setting The book is set in the town of Bentrock which is in northwest Montana very close to the Canadian border. The land around there is very harsh it is hard to farm and the weather is tuff. The area has a history of cowboys and Indians and there is still racism in the community. The time is 1948 which is just after the second world war and it is a time when everybody in the community is just trying to settle down and get on with life because there where many men in the town that fought in the war.
Key characters Julian: is David's grandfather and Wess father, he was the owner of a cattle ranch and then was the town sheriff before passing it onto his son, he was a controlling man who needed power which is why he became the sheriff. He also sees frank as his only son and wishes that Wes would be more like his brother. Frank: frank is Wes's only brother, he is a doctor and a decorated war hero and was highly regarded in the community. He has a wife but they never had any children. But he sexually abuses young Indian women and was suspected of Marie little soldiers murder. Len McCurly: was Wes's deputy and lived next door to him and before that was Julian's deputy. He is a true western man with true western values, but likes whisky a little bit to much. It is also hinted in the book that he is secretly in love with Wes's wife. David: at the start of the book David is a normal young boy, he is old enough to know that having the Hayden name makes him known amongst the community but it doesnt really worry him. But as the book progresses he grows up and matures very quickly and by the end of the book he is much older than twelve, this event was sort of a right of passage for David, when he becomes a man.
themes The key themes of this novel are family break downs and how the effect the individuals and the relation ships in the group. Another theme is the idea of a flawed hero which is frank, he was a decorated war hero and a doctor but at the same time sexually abused Indian girls. racism in this novel is present with the white people in the town looking down on the Indians. Another theme in this novel is the loss of innocence in childhood, at the start of the book David was a young innocent boy but by the end of the book he had been exposed to so much and he had to mature very quickly.
Key quotes When David shoots the magpie pg 81 Looking in the dead birds eye, I realized that these strange, unthought-of connections - sex and death, lust and violence, desire and degradation - are there, there, deep in even a good hearts chambers. This is when David starts to lose his innocence. At the end of the novel Dont blame Montana, dont ever blame Montana. This is at the end of the novel and Wes is saying that the culture of the town was not responsible for franks actions and that it was frank who was responsible but the towns culture had a lot to do with it, with the racism, and the fact that his father was the town sheriff. During the wedding trip to Minneapolis They couldnt arrest us we are the law. Julian points a gun at a man at a bar and then afterwards laughs at it this so the lack of respect that they have for the law.
What I learnt I learnt about the similarities that of the native Americans and the Australian aboriginals.