‘The events of the summer of 1948 in Bentrock force David to reverse his attitude to his parents. ’ Do you agree? During the summer of 1948 David was forced to revise his opinion of his father as a man and sheriff as a result of the events that transpired. David’s opinion of his mother was never really negative so was not affected by those events. David saw his Father, Wes, as a disappointment and a letdown, especially when compared to his Uncle Frank. Frank was a war hero, an exceptional athlete and David’s role model.
Throughout Wes’ life he was overshadowed by his brother’s successes. David had such a low opinion of his father that when comparisons were made between the brothers; David states that his father was bound to suffer. Wes did not fit into David’s idea of a sheriff, he did not carry a gun or badge, the gun he owned was unsuitable and the clothing he wore did not fit the role – he looked more like a townsman than a sheriff. This disappointed him at the time. David even states that being “sheriff of Mercer County did not require great strength or courage”.
Demonstrating how little he thought of his father. Wes believed in proof, in evidence, and he held off on his own convictions until he had sufficient evidence to support them; however the events of 1948 in Bentrock saw him struggling with a very difficult decision between loyalty to justice or loyalty to his brother and family. This forced Wes to change as a person to meet the difficult situation. Wes began to stand up to what he believed was right, standing up to his brother Frank and also his own Father.
Wes was strong enough to lock his own brother away in his basement and was going to take him across the street to the jail. Wes did not give in to his father’s plea, showing strength and courage in his beliefs. David saw a change in Wes and began to reverse his attitude towards his father, gaining more respect as his father became a stronger figure by not compromising his morals. At the end of the novel, David talks about his father in the present day. Wes was sick with cancer and as such very weak and brittle.
When asked about the events in Montana he slammed his hand down on the table in anger. Later that night David went down to that table and for an instant he thought he felt the wood still vibrating from his father’s blow. This is an important scene as it shows the high level of respect and admiration David had gained towards his Father after the events of 1948. The reason David’s attitude towards his mother never changed may be the result of that era, where the son’s only looked to the father as a role model and he mother was just the caring figure in their lives. Nevertheless Gail did have some influence over David – her disappointment in Wes’ career choice may have had an adverse effect on David’s opinion of his father. Gail was Wes’ counterpoint relying on gut instincts, feelings and faith to judge the guilt or innocence of people, like Frank. This changed in the novel as Wes began to follow his morals; Gail began to represent practicality and expediency. This role reversal still did not impact David’s opinion of his mother.
As I just mentioned David’s opinion of his mother never really changed throughout the summer of 1948. David’s opinion of his father, however, changed dramatically. He no longer saw his father as a failure as a sheriff and as a man, who was nothing compared to his brother Frank. Instead Wes was a man who stood up to his entire family for his moral beliefs, demonstrating great strength and courage, this lead to David admiring his father and believing that he was a hero.