The Searchers' Narrative Structure Essay

1173 Words Nov 20th, 2008 5 Pages
From Boy to Man: The Searchers Through the Eyes of Martin Pawley
The narrative structure of John Ford’s The Searchers is centered primarily around the actions and knowledge of men. Throughout the movie, men are the figures of action, they are out scouring the land for lost loved ones while the women stay home and wait with hope. In The Searchers, just as with any search, the limiting factor involved is knowledge. Ethan, the main character, begins the movie as the leader of the searchers. His assumed role as leader is due to his past excursions as a Texas Ranger. These past experiences enable Ethan to lead most effectively because they provide him with knowledge. Ethan has the knowledge to survive on the frontier, but most importantly his
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After the first battle with the Native Americans, the crew is broken up due to Clayton taking a wounded man home. Ethan is prepared to drive on by himself, fueled by his racism, but Brad and Marty show their true colors and bravery, stepping up to accompany Ethan. Marty’s willingness to risk his life to avenge his family’s death signifies his transition to manhood. It also portrays the morals and ideals of 19th century western America. Although Marty is part Cherokee, he portrays the very American value of fighting in the name of what you believe in and what you love: freedom and family. John Ford uses Marty’s Native American heritage along with his strong morals to contrast the foundation of Ethan’s racism, thus undermining racism in general. In the film, Ethan first appears as a strong American soldier while Marty is “tainted” with Indian blood. Upon further evaluation, it is clear that Ethan is a lost soul with no true friends or loving family. Ford uses Ethan’s status as a social outcast to exemplify that being driven by racism leads to a lonely, unfulfilling life.
Marty’s “relationship” with Laurie proves to be important in the development of Marty’s character. It gives Ford a medium to present Marty as the narrator. Ford uses letters from Marty to Laurie as a means of “fast forwarding” through the years of the hunt while still keeping the viewer updated on Marty and Ethan’s progress. After this point, in addition to more letters to
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