"Montana 1948" And "Icarus" Public Lies

1174 words - 5 pages

Society has many quirks, which are amplified when individual cases are examined. People's lives have many hidden facets, not seen by the rest of the community, often purposely hidden. While this may be done in order to make an individual or family seem more "presentable" to the rest of the population, these "public lies," as they are called by David Huddle, perpetuate even more, until almost everyone has some sort of hidden aspect of their life. Not everyone is as perfect as they make it seem, but because they make themselves seem faultless, they make others feel inadequate and be self conscious about their faults. More defects are then covered up, leading to more dishonesty in society.In the novel Montana 1948 by Larry Watson, the life of a seemingly perfect family is thrown into chaos by the actions of a family member. David Hayden, the main character of the novel, is forced to grow up within a very short amount of time, when his uncle, Frank, is accused of molesting the local Native American girls, while giving them medical examinations. The accusations are not made public, but to Frank's brother Wesley""David's father""who is the sheriff of the small town in which the family resides. Family loyalties are thrown askew as Wesley must decide how to deal with these accusations against his brother, as he is the law and must either act accordingly or decide to protect Frank and the family's reputation.Wesley ultimately ends up arresting his brother, which he justifies in his own mind as the morally right thing. But Wesley and Franks father Julian becomes enraged at the fact that Wesley has done this, and insists that Frank be let go. He favors Frank, and thinks that Wesley may be making the arrest because of his jealousy that is a result of Julian's favoritism. However, this doesn't seem to be the entirety of his anger""Julian has led the family to become "as close as Mercer County came to aristocracy" (Watson 126), and doesn't appear to want to mar that image. Likewise, his grandson David presumes that "being a Hayden would mean having an identity [he doesn't] want, but [can] do nothing about" (Watson 127). This imminent fear is what has led others in the past to lie about their family secrets, the fear of becoming an outcast from society, of being stared at when walking through town. Almost everyone who is a part of society wants to feel as though they belong, and when someone has something that would be thought of as shameful, they do their best to keep it quiet in order to maintain their status.Frank ends up killing himself, perhaps in order to avoid public humiliation, or to keep his feuding family happy. This solves the entire family's moral problems: Wesley no longer has to put his brother on trial; Julian doesn't have to try to get his criminal son out of jail to save face; David doesn't have to choose sides in this very adult ordeal. The family decides unanimously to not tell the truth about Frank""since no one had known of his arrest,...

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