Montana 1948, a novel written by Larry Watson and published in 1993, describes an embarrassing recollection of David Hayden happened in a small town called Bentrock. The story mainly concentrates on a dilemma between loyalty and justice and various entangled struggles that the Hayden family is confronting with. As a sheriff, Wesley Hayden finally challenged his family name and arrested his brother Frank who was guilty in raping Indian girls, standing for the justice with strong moral beliefs. On the contrast, through tyrannical characters Julian and Frank, we can understand how the unrestricted and concentrated power in the family and society will finally lead to a dictatorship with loss of judgment of the justice and the evil, which results in a tragic ending in this story.
In the Hayden's family, the patriarchal and dominating Grandpa Julian controls everything including Frank and Wesley's choices, which is the radical cause of the tragedy in the story. In order words, it's his patriarchal values, abuse of power, as well as his racial discrimination towards Indians that negatively influences Frank and Wesley, fundamentally resulting in the Frank's flagrant crime and the revolt from Wesley. For example, David's Grandma Enid is described as "a thin, nervous woman who seldom speaks when my Grandfather was present."(76) And other details also reveals that Julian was the one who right everything wrong in Hayden family with his absolute power. On the one hand, Julian repeatedly showed his racist attitudes towards Indians and passed them to Frank, leading Frank to believe that raping Indian girls was "all right." To make things worse, Frank's behavior was tolerated by Julian, which encourages Frank to continue committing his crimes. Owing to those facts, we can say it's exactly Julian's distorted values and favoritism towards Frank that change Frank into a licentious and evil person.