By including internal conflicts in a character's development, an author can add depth to both the character and the novel. Larry Watson's novel Montana 1948 is the perfect example of this. The main character's father, Wes, is divided between his love for his family, and his obligation to the law, which is his career. With this internal struggle, the novel takes a deeper meaning, as a young boy must watch his father act with courage against the pressure of his family. .
The novel Montana 1948 begins as an ordinary coming of age story of a young boy. It describes a simply country life and the boy's family life. Like any other family, his has its few problems. His father is the sheriff, but he never seems to do anything heroic. "And that disappointed me at the time. As long as my tather was going to be a sheriff, a position with so much potential for excitement, danger and bravery, why couldn't some of that be fulfilled?- However, the novel quickly takes a more complex turn that raises it to a new level. David, the main character, realizes "as do both his parents "that his Uncle Frank, a doctor, has been molesting, if not raping, young Indian girls during office visits. David's father, Wes, is torn. He is the town sheriff, and he must uphold the law. But this is his brother. At the same time, David's grandfather is an extremely powerful and controlling man who will not stand for having his favorite son imprisoned. This development dramatically changes the novel as a whole. It now becomes the story of a complex moral struggle that Wes must face. "He had long since stopped being my father. He was now my interrogator, my cross-examiner. The sheriff. My Uncle's brother."" With so much to live up to, Wes is utterly lost in a struggle to define himself.
Wes cannot make a final decision in the matter. Torn between family and law, he cannot decide which way to turn. Taking the middle ground, he decides to arrest his brother "but to avoid scandal, he holds him in his own basement.