Setting the Scene: Depicting a Desolate Town in a Harsh Landscape

Categories: Novel


The purposes of the images described create the setting of the story, which takes place in a quiet desolate town in a dry harsh land.

The reader knows that the story took place many years ago from the reminiscence frame of language that the writer takes on. "Forty years ago. Two months prior my mother died." "I may not be the only witness left-there might still be someone in that small Montana town who remembers those events as well as I.

" 3. The impact of these experiences would have been life altering for the narrator. He cannot go back to the town Montana because it holds to many bad memories that are to powerful for him to overcome.

Story Part 1:

  1. The setting for the story is a small town in the desert set apart form the world. In the outskirts of the town there are farms and ranches however the land is very harsh and nothing grows well.
  2. David's father is the town sheriff.
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    As a visitor to the town you would think that no place like this would need a sheriff however this town has many dark secrets. He is very loyal to his father even though it is very obvious that his brother is their father favourite.

  3. David's mother wanted his father to become a lawyer because the job was of a better status and would get them out of Montana. She did not want David to grow up in Montana, as she feared for his soul. She also wanted her husband to be himself and not just a Hayden.
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  4. David presents his grandfather as a very powerful man. He was a dominating man who grew strength from controlling others. He was also very popular and influential.
  5. David's mother feared for his soul because she was concerned about his values religious and spiritual.
  6. David prefers the country to the town because in the country he felt freedom, which let him be wild. David was not interested in the cusp of adolescence. He never felt like he understood how to act while in town he felt unconfident and self-conscience. In town it seemed like everything had to be done in a certain order and there was too much expectation placed on him because of the family he belonged to.
  7. Marie Little Soldier was the housekeeper who lived with David's family during the week and David's babysitter. "David loved her because she talked to him, cared for him, she was older but not to old." (pg. 26) She could still relate to him. She was not as quiet and conventional as all the other adults he knew. Marie was sexy and David found himself crushing over her.
  8. Marie did not feel comfortable having a consultation with Dr. Hayden when she was ill. Marie knew that Dr. Hayden had raped a number of Indian girls that were from the reservation. He had been molesting these defenceless girls since he was a young man and had carried this out through his power in the medical profession.
  9. The relationship between the town's people and those on the reservation is not a good relationship. The majority of the time they live very separated lives. There is a lack of tolerance and understanding between the two communities. The Indians on the reservation are referred to as superstitious and not willing to let go of the old ways this makes them ignorant to our ways and easy to take advantage of.
  10. The relationship between David's parents recalled by David was that his father always needed proof, evidence and he held back on his own convictions till he had them. His mother was always willing to go on a lot less. She trusted her feelings and faith. However as the book continues you see how under pressure these roles became reversed.
  11. David's Grandfather saw frank as a hero as he had been in the army and had assisted by evacuating and treating the injured under heavy enemy fire. Next to Frank David's father seemed dull and Grandfather when in public almost treated Frank as his only son an instance like this was at the picnic held for the war veterans.
  12. When frank came to David's house he was welcomed. Frank comes across as a very charming man but only when he wants to be. I tend to agree with David's mother that this makes him seem like he is hiding something. His brother welcomes him. However David's mother seemed distant and frank with him.
  13. After Frank left David's mother had to confront her husband this was very difficult because she had to tell him that she suspected his brother of molesting Indian girls. This was made harder by the fact that her husband was a police officer and had to act on what he was told. David's father's reaction was initially to walk away as if he did not want to hear it but then he defended his brother though it came across as weak as deep down he knew that his wife was speaking the truth. David's insight in to this event wrenched him from his childhood he started to think of his uncle as a criminal. The truth was frightening to his innocent mind. David's inquisitiveness had destroyed his naivety that childhood protected.
  14. David's father does not deny the truth as deep down he knows that it is most likely true but he does not have the evidence to prove it. He attempts to defend his brother in the beginning but he never once claims that his brother would not do that.
  15. Daisy's response to the issue was to tell David's mother that Frank did not always do everything above board. Daisy's response is typical of that of a close friend who has known a terrible secret for a long time and is relieved to finally be able to discuss it with her friend.
  16. Part 1 ends with David's father not being capable of defending his brothers innocence as he knew that he was guilty.Part 2: 18.David knew that his father was investigating the accusation. The three facts that lead him to this conclusion were: *He offered to buy honey for his wife from Mr. Birdwell's, which was on the highway to the reservation.He was having coffee with Ollie Young Bear the most respected Indian in northeastern Montana *He asked David and his mother to go for a walk while he questioned Marie.
  17. Ollie Young Bear was the most respected and beloved Indian. David's father was talking to him because he would know what happens out on the reservation and he resects his opinion.
  18. David is very intuitive and perceptive examples of this are that he observes everything that it happening around him. An average 12 year old would remain oblivious to the circumstances that have arisen not through ignorance it is just they are to busy in there own life to get caught up in others. David wanted to be involved in the adult's world he wanted to be accepted by them hence he used his initiative to find answers to his questions so that he could understand their conversations.
  19. David turned to his mother in his quest for answers. His mother's reaction was to become vague and withdraw in to the memories of when she was a child and things were pure and she was happy.
  20. the trip to David's Grandparents was difficult because Frank and his Wife would be there and Frank was their beloved son. David is very observant he notices the tension between his parents about this visit to his grandparents.
  21. David's grandfathers attitude to Frank's promiscuity was that he knew his son was acting in this manner and was proud of him as he saw it as his son was a ladies man.
  22. The story often jumps from the past to present this exaggerates how shocking these truths really are. It is a major contrast to the innocent life they had before they found out about this horrifying news.
  23. The relevance of David having a gun and shooting magpies was that it gave him power. Which leads us to believe that David may become just another Hayden who has a need for power. After David killed the magpie he felt calm he was no longer agitated he needed to kill something to rid him of his anger. This act is not as heart wrenching as those the rest of the family performs however you can see that it may be the start.
  24. The consideration given to the crime and punishment was that David's father could not convict his brother and therefor he got off with a warning to straighten up his act. If it had of been any other member of the community they would have been convicted straight away.
  25. "He's hard to see when you are looking for him." Marie uses this as a metaphor to warn David that if he stops looking so hard he may just find what he is looking for.
  26. According to Frank Marie died from her illness she had a sudden relapse of pneumonia. However David knows the truth he knows that Frank killed her for telling them his secret.
  27. ""¦Your grandad said that it was knowing when to look and when to look away" This statement is referring to the trouble that has risen. Sometimes to keep the peace it is better to pretend that something bad is not happening because if it is acknowledged it will cause much worse repercussions.
  28.  "That night I thought I felt death in the house" That night David felt costophobic the knowledge that he held was pressing against him and he needed relief needed to tell his secret so that he could mourn Maries death properly.
  29. "In his voice I thought I heard both jealousy and resentment" I don't think David is coping very well but he is coping better than most 12 year olds would in the same situation. I think now that he has told his father that he will be able to deal with the situation better knowing that somebody else knows.
  30. Davids sleep that night was in a state of being half-awake and half-asleep. In this state he had a vision which made him realise how divided his community really was. He wondered if the Indians mourning Marie's death would want to revenge her murder.
  31. Part 3 David describes his fathers behaviour as his father is behaving in this manner because he is not just arresting a criminal he is arresting his brother for murder hence things require a more delicate and discrete plan of action.
  32. David's fears are that his father killed Frank after he failed to bring his crimes to justice he took on revenge instead. This is the first major sign we get that David is not coping with what has happened at all.
  33. David's father Put Frank in the basement because he arrested him but did not want to put him in the town jail.
  34. "I suddenly felt sorry for my father not as he stood before me at that moment, but as a boy"¦" David feels sorry for his father because his own father shows him no respect and makes it obvious that Frank is his favourite son. David thought that it would be hard to grow up always being compared to somebody else and never quite being good enough.
  35. David's fathers reaction to his parents visit was to cry once they left not in defeat but from the enormous amount of pressure that had been placed on him as well from pure physical exhaustion. He no longer trusted his parents. David's mother took on sympathetic and supportive behaviour but everybody was drained from the visit.
  36. Davids grandfather treated his father as if he was no longer family and ceased to be the minute that he started to suspect his brother of these terrible crimes he made it clear that he respected Frank much more at least he did not turn against his family.
  37. Neither brother are heroes. It depends from who point of view to most David's father would seem the hero but he turned against his family to others Frank would seem the hero as he went to fight in the war and stuck by his country and family.
Updated: Apr 29, 2023
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Setting the Scene: Depicting a Desolate Town in a Harsh Landscape. (2016, Jul 16). Retrieved from

Setting the Scene: Depicting a Desolate Town in a Harsh Landscape essay
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