Montana 1948 Characters

Montana 1948 Character List


Wesley is one of the main characters in the novel. Wesley is the narrator’s father and also the sheriff in the small town where the family lived. Wesley is the member of an influential family and thus he was educated at a prestigious collage. While he had the chance to become a lawyer in a big city, he decided to remain behind and listen to his father. Wesley is described by his son as being a mellow man, someone who does not take risks and who doesn’t stand out from the crowd. Because of this, David is not so proud of him. Wesley also has prejudiced ideas against Native Americans and does not shy away from treating them as inferior to him. However, this doesn’t stop him from pursuing justice when he finds about everything his brother had done and he decides to incarcerate him and have him prosecuted even though he knew that he would be ruining his relationship with his family and that his brother will most likely never go to jail. After Frank killed himself, Wesley decided to move away from his family and to start a new life in another city.


Frank is Wesley’s brother and the antagonist of the story. Just like Wesley, Frank received a good education and he became a doctor. Frank decided to stay in the same city as his brother and work as a doctor. Frank distinguished himself from the beginning as being a racial person who considered the Indians living in the city as being inferior to him. As a result, he treated them as they were worth nothing and did not take the time to understand their beliefs. Thinking that he will not be punished, Frank began abusing Indian women, going as far as to rape them. A person who was abused by Frank was Marie who confessed to Gail what had happened. When Frank was confronted about his actions, he tried to make excuses for himself and to make Wesley side with him. When he realized that he was going to be turned in for his crimes, Frank killed himself by slitting his own wrists and letting himself bleed to death.


Gail is in the story David’s mother and Wesley’s wife. Gail worked as a secretary for her husband so she hired an Indian woman to take care of her son. In comparison with the other characters in the story, Gail is more compassionate and more interested in the fate and in the way the Indians are treated. She considers Marie as being a member of the family and because of this she insists that she receives the best medical care they can provide her with. When Gail hears that Frank abused Indian women, she convinces her husband to try and prosecute him, telling him that it is the right thing to do. Gail is also very brave, doing everything she can to protect her son and not being afraid to act like a man when her house is under attack. All these elements make Gail be an extraordinary woman, not afraid to stand for what is right.


David is the narrator of the story and Gail and Wesley’s child. At the moment when he tells the story, he is an adult man remembering the events that took place when he was a child. David is an extremely innocent child in the story, on the boundary between childhood and adolescence. The events that he witnesses force him to grow up and thus he discovers his sexuality and an innate inclination towards violence. David is the only pure character in the story, loving Marie in a pure way, not affected by the racial views surrounding him. He also offers valuable insight about his parents and the other members living in the same community and he presents the way of thinking that dominated the world in his childhood.


Marie is the Indian woman working for David’s family. She was hired to work in the house but also to take care of David who at the time when the story takes place was only 12. Marie is presented to the reader through David’s eyes and thus the reader is told that Marie was loved by his family despite the racial views existing then. Marie lives in the same house as David and when she gets sick, she is treated by Frank, Wesley’s brother. His presence is what makes Marie want to confess about his wrongdoings and Marie tells Gail about everything that Frank has done. Because of this, it is implied that Marie was killed by Frank.

Grandpa Hayden

Grandpa Hayden is an important character because he is the one that influenced Frank and Wesley the most. Grandpa Hayden is described as being extremely racist, not considering Frank’s actions as being something worth punishing because he only molested Indian women, a race not considered worthy of being treated in a just way by Grandpa Hayden. When Wesley decides to hold Frank in his basement and then take him to the city jail, Grandpa Hayden comes to him, demanding to release Frank. When Wesley refuses to do so, Grandpa Hayden stops talking with Wesley and with his family, severing all the ties he had with them.


Len is the sheriff’s deputy and the first one to realize that Frank was the one who killed Marie. Len is trusted by Wesley to the point where Wesley entrusts his family’s safety to Len when he realizes that by arresting Frank he created tension between him and his father.


Ronnie is Marie’s boyfriend from the same Indian tribe. David looks up to Ronnie and he even mentions his athletic talent.

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