Prejudice - Montan 1948 & Snow Falling on Cedars

The conventions of the concept, ‘prejudice and hatred are never right in a just society’ are explored in Larry Watson’s 1993 fictional novel, ‘Montana 1948’ and also in the film, ‘Snow Falling on Cedars’, directed by Scott Hicks. Specifically, the two compositions delve into this notion by mainly focusing on the prejudices that are placed on those who are not of the Caucasian race. For example, in ‘Montana 1948’ the Indians are discriminated against and American-Japanese citizens are victimized in ‘Snow Falling on Cedars’.

These prejudices are similarly portrayed in both texts; however there are also some contrasting features. Varying techniques such as changing from present to past text to emphasise the continuous use of memory, various panning shots and most importantly, dialogue, are all used to convey that prejudice and hatred are never right in a just society. In ‘Montana 1948’, written by Larry Watson, we are instantly introduced to David, the narrator of the story.

David immediately reveals that the story will be told as a memory; he establishes this in the first sentence of the prologue, “From the summer of my twelfth year I carry a series of images more vivid and lasting than any others of my boyhood and indelible beyond all attempts the years make to erase or fade them”.

This is written in past tense which instantly shows the audience that story is a memory of David’s.

The sentence also creates an element of mystery as David mentions he has attempted to forget the summer of his twelfth year.

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After instantaneously establishing the importance of memory in this novel, Watson then begins to weave racial prejudices which are the other key feature in the composition. “A young Sioux woman lies on a bed…” is the second sentence of the prologue and by using the word ‘Sioux’ makes the audience aware of the underlying racial issues about to become apparent. As the story continues, we are made aware.

We find that the story is set in a small community, Bedrock, which has a nearby reservation filled with Sioux Native Americans. The story is set in 1948 and is told from David’s perspective; however this constantly changes from present to past tense, which emphasises that the composition is a memory. With this fluid, constant conversion, the story is given more depth and the audience is provided with more information to truly understand every aspect of the focal story.

Language used in the text; mainly colloquial within the characters’ dialogue portray the issues of prejudice. We are given the impression that David likes the Indians and thinks of them as equals; especially since David talks of his love for Marie and his fondness of Ollie. However, not everybody feels this way. **We are also made aware of the Indians status within society due to the language and dialogue used throughout the text. “My father did not like Indians”, “We want them white” and “little squaw” highlight such language conventions.

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Prejudice - Montan 1948 & Snow Falling on Cedars. (2017, Jan 19). Retrieved from

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