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How does the movie "The Searchers" represent the frontier?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Ford's film can represent the concept of the frontier in a couple of ways.  The first is that the men embark on a search without a fixed definition or end.  Their search is for their families,  but they have little idea as to where they are actually going.  They progress deep into the West, further and further into the frontier.  In many respects, they cross several lines of demarcation.  The frontier is the line that marks how the men have to leave their homes in order to facilitate their pursuit of justice.  It is also a line that separates law from lawlessness, different conceptions of culture, as well as what is known and "the other."  The journey that the men undertake is also an example of the frontier in that it reflects how there is fluidity in the concept.  It is always changing.  At first, the frontier marked the line between the men seeking the return of their cattle.  Then, it marked the line between seeing their families killed and seeking justice for the wrongs that had been done.  Another example of the Frontier might lie with Ethan, who walks away in the distance at the end, establishing and simultaneously crossing into a new frontier.

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