Montana 1948

The Underside of Montana 1948: David's Disillusionment 10th Grade

The facade of Bentrock, Montana, is the idyllic, but dull, American frontier town. Ordinary people working long hours in the fields each day to provide for their families. To strive for, and eventually live the American Dream, is the essence of what it means to be an American. To have equal opportunity, and to have hard work rewarded, is what all Americans hold in the highest regard. Larry Watson in Montana 1948 explores the post-World War Two era's disillusionment with the idealized American Dream, and exposes the true meaning of what it means to be an American at the time, through David Hayden's loss of innocence in the novel. David's illusion of a perfect American small town is shattered when he realizes that Bentrock, a representation of the post-World War Two American society, has lost sight of the idea of meritocracy, a cornerstone of the American Dream and what it means to be an American. People are supposed to be judged solely by their merit, not by any other distinguishing factor, such as race.

In this small frontier town, these morals of the American Dream should be at their strongest, not subject to racial prejudice and systematic oppression and exclusion of the minority Native American population. David describes...

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