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The Ending Of The Searchers (spoiler if you haven't seen it)


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The character of Ethan Edwards (John Wayne) had been searching for his niece kidnapped by the Comanches, he has a hatred for all Indians and when he sees his niece Debbie (Natalie Wood) has been living among them and appears to want to stay with them, he wants to kill her. At the climax, he chases her down and suddenly has a change of heart and tenderly holds her in his arms and brings her home to his family and friends.

Many people have not bought this ending of Ethan having this sudden change. I, however think that while he cannot bring himself to kill Debbie, he still cannot fully accept her. After she is brought into the house, he thinks a moment and then rides away, probably never to return.

Any thoughts on this?

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Ethan's a pretty conservative guy and I figure he had second thoughts about not killing little Debby after she later became a stripper.

Natalie-Wood-as-Gypsy-Rose-Lee.jpg

As far as The Searchers is concerned his decision to not kill her does seem pretty sudden. Stranger things have happened, though, but having John Wayne play a cold blooded murderer of a young girl in a film wasn't going to be one of them. Ethan's racial prejudice isn't going anywhere, though, and she undoubtedly "compromised" herself while with her captors (actually she wouldn't have had a choice). It would probably be a break for the young girl if Uncle Ethan did ride off into the sunset never to be seen again, taking all of his prejudices with him.

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it is fully buyable as it is made clear early on that ethan loved martha his brother's wife.

he could not bring himself to harm the daughter of the woman he loved.

a guy who buries by hand a murdered niece in his reb coat ain't all bad.

:)

 

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  • 4 months later...

(POSSIBLE SPOILERS):

 

Debbie was still his kin (daughter or niece, whatever) and when all is said and done he couldn't really bring himself to do her in no matter how much he convinced himself he'd be doing her a favor since she was so deeply into the Indians' way of life by this time.

I agree that Ethan still hasn't shaken loose of his racism. He's still a man with too much bitterness in hatred in himself, and perhaps that's why he chooses to go away because he knows he's not going to change and that Martin and the others would not accept his refusal to give up his bigotry.

 

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