Montana 1948

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Wesley’s deputy, Len is an older man who has worked alongside both Wesley and Julian. Len is a reformed alcoholic who begins drinking again shortly after he realizes Frank Hayden has murdered Marie Little Soldier. He remains loyal to Wesley and Gail after Frank’s arrest, and rescues Gail and David when Dale Paris and other employees of Grandpa Hayden attempt to break into the house.

Len McAuley Quotes in Montana 1948

The Montana 1948 quotes below are all either spoken by Len McAuley or refer to Len McAuley. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Law versus Justice Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Milkweed Editions edition of Montana 1948 published in 1993.
Chapter 2 Quotes

“You know what your granddad said it means to be a peace officer in Montana? He said it means knowing when to look and when to look away.”

Related Characters: Len McAuley (speaker), David Hayden, Grandpa Hayden (Julian)
Page Number: 84
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, David has a strange encounter with Wesley’s deputy, an old, recovering alcoholic named Len. Len is a loyal follower of Wesley’s father, Julian—at times, he seems more loyal to Julian than to Wesley himself. Here, Len repeats for David a lesson that Julian has often given Len: being a law enforcement officer means knowing “when to look and when to look away.” In other words, it’s implied, Julian thinks that police officers should be able to take the law into their own hands—choosing when and when not to dole out justice.

We’ve already seen that Julian is willing to bend the law to suit his own family’s needs. But here, it’s suggested that Julian might even be willing to ignore his son Frank’s horrific, serious crimes, simply because Frank is his favorite sun. Julian subscribes to an unfair, biased interpretation of justice, in which family loyalties, economic power, and racial prejudices are more important than the law itself.

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Len McAuley Character Timeline in Montana 1948

The timeline below shows where the character Len McAuley appears in Montana 1948. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Law versus Justice Theme Icon
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Identity Theme Icon
...father) had once been Sheriff of Mercer county for many terms, along with his deputy, Len McAuley. (David, as an adult, wonders why his grandfather wanted to be sheriff. He concludes... (full context)
Law versus Justice Theme Icon
Racism, Prejudice, and the American West Theme Icon
...that Marie is tired and needs rest. Wesley says he is going to talk to Len McAuley. The McAuleys are more like grandparents to David than David’s own grandparents—they take an... (full context)
Chapter 2
Law versus Justice Theme Icon
Growing Up Theme Icon
...clearly trying to get him out of the house. David agrees. Next door he sees Len and realizes that Len’s been drinking. This scares him, because Len has been on the... (full context)
Identity Theme Icon
Growing Up Theme Icon
David hesitantly asks Len, “did you see something?” wondering if Len knows what he knows. Len asks David what... (full context)
Law versus Justice Theme Icon
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
...Frank was merely checking in on his patient. Perhaps David was confused. David mentions that Len probably saw Frank, too. This changes things for Wesley. He realizes that even if Len... (full context)
Chapter 3
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Identity Theme Icon
Growing Up Theme Icon
...means. Wesley then tells him that if there’s ever any trouble, he should go find Len. David asks if Len knows about everything, and Wesley says he does. (full context)
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Identity Theme Icon
Growing Up Theme Icon
David runs to his dad’s offices but cannot find Len or his father anywhere. He runs back to the house and on the way hears... (full context)
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Gail runs out the door to thank Len and gives him a big hug. David thinks the three of them—him, his mom, and... (full context)
Law versus Justice Theme Icon
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Wesley announces that he will speak to his father, and that he will make sure Len is in the house if he is not there. Gail tells Wesley he doesn’t have... (full context)
Law versus Justice Theme Icon
Growing Up Theme Icon
...Wesley goes down to the basement, presumably to release Frank. In the kitchen, Gail asks Len how Frank killed Marie. She no longer cares about what David hears. Len responds that... (full context)
Law versus Justice Theme Icon
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Identity Theme Icon
Growing Up Theme Icon
...the broken glass from the jars. Wesley tells David to get his mother to call Len, and to not let Gail come downstairs. David is glad for an excuse to leave... (full context)
Epilogue
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Growing Up Theme Icon
Len and Grandpa Hayden have both died of strokes—David wonders if the strokes were caused by... (full context)