What Makes Ethan to Wander in The Searchers?
- What Makes Ethan to Wander in The Searchers?
- The Searchers; John Ford; postbellum; Martha; the West; Comanche
- Issue Date
- 영미어문학, no.104, pp.145 - 165
- ‘What makes Ethan to wander?’ is a more important question than ‘what is Ethan searching for?’ for critically analyzing the psychological aspects and historical backdrops of John Ford’s film, The Searchers. Ethan’s wandering in the West is to re-purify a polluted white female body and domesticate the West so as to expand white civilization. Purging him of the emotion of resentment is another reason for his wandering and searching for an unspecified object once loved but now lost is the third reason.
The film’s visual and auditory aspects make it obvious that Ethan is in love with Martha; Martha and Debbie are represented as the similar figure; and they are imagined as the unspecified object by Ethan and therefore the object for his search. Though the American West was often imagined as a mythic place for the myth of national building, The Searchers emphasizes the West as a place of frustration, deconstructs the traditional image of a Western hero, and presents a homage to the dark side of the West.
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