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The Reading Jackalope

Montana 1948

Montana 1948 - Larry Watson So good. I was persuaded to read it because it was described to me as Montana's To Kill a Mockingbird. I'd say that's pretty accurate. It's not a clean and easy story, nor does the ending allow for justice to prevail. Something I think that's pretty accurate to the time. Horrible, awful, violent, things happened. But the perpetrators of those acts kept their reputations because often they were more influential then the victims.

I think what's most important in the novel comes at the very end, during the epilogue when the narrator's wife hears about it and starts to question the father. Her questioning is very ignorant and assumes that the reason the events happened as they did because of the wild west atmosphere of the town. The father's response, "Don't blame Montana, don't ever blame Montana" encapsulates some of the issues we have with racism in this country. We seem to think that racism is something that happens elsewhere. For example, the assumption that it is only in the southwest that they're really racist against Hispanics. It's a false assumption, racism is the people not the place.

I was also fascinated by the racism of the father, and how that butted up against his ideals as a man of the law (both as a lawyer and the sheriff). I was never quite sure if he was going to do the right thing and pursue the crimes in question, or if he was going to submit to the pressure and let it slide. To be honest, I think if it had just been the 'lesser' crime he might have.