A Theme of Racial Purity, Honor, Family, and Miscegeneraton in The Searcher by Ethan Edwards

A Theme of Racial Purity, Honor, Family, and Miscegeneraton in The Searcher by Ethan Edwards

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The Searchers contains a central theme of racial purity, honor, family, and miscegenation. Ethan Edwards, the main character of the film, is a Civil War veteran who returns to his brother’s, Aaron Edwards’, ranch three years after the war. What was supposed to be a friendly family visit turns into a disaster. During the turmoil that Ethan is put in and has to witness, we are able to infer some characteristics about this mysterious man. It can be concluded that in moments of stress and frustration, Ethan becomes protective, contains a lot of racial hatred, and possesses his personal code of ethics and morals. Each of his characteristics play some part in the values he represents: racism, family, and miscegenation. For example, the protective part of Ethan is shown moments before the Comanches massacre his family. This characteristic represents family values. Family members are usually protective of each other. After the massacre, taking in all the remains of the fire, Ethan doesn’t allow Martin from going inside the house to prevent him from the seeing the bodies of his murdered family. He looks out for Martin because even though Martin and him and don’t get along due to the fact that Martin is part Native American, family looks out for family; this value is something that all people around the world share. The value of racial purity plays into action through his characteristic of being racist toward Native Americans. This aspect of Ethan can be seen when he shoots the dead Comanche’s eyes. It gives a sense to the audience that if Ethan could get rid of all the Native Americans in a second, he would without a doubt. He goes as far as trying to kill Debbie because “she is one of them”. This gives us a mental picture that racial supr...


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...ill go on with their lives regardless of war and regardless of Comanche raids. Newer generations are starting to put the wall of miscegenation behind them such as Martin and Laurie. Through all this, Ethan doesn’t see his search is pointless. Others even tell Ethan to give up and that Debbie is as good as gone, and the past isn’t worth living for, but that is what Ethan does. He lives in the past and can’t adapt to the future. This is also the reason why he doesn’t enter the house at the end, because he knows he doesn’t fit in. He might be able to accept Martin and Debbie, but the hostility will always exist.
It can be concluded that The Searchers clearly portrays our past society in Westerns’ relationships with Native Americans, shows the tension between a rugged individual and his community, and pins down values of honor, family, racial purity, and miscegenation.

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