The Searchers, is about rescuing a girl from Indian captivity, a film in which, the hero is a man, Ethen, who is not a puritan like Rowlandson, and who rather resembles the typical colonizer. Neither of these stories tries to understand the clash between Indians and the Westerners in its historical or social context. …
The film "The Searchers" by John Wayne (1868) and Mary Rowlandson narrative.
Both the narratives, on the civilizational clash between Indians and the settlers, have been criticized as racist and also gender insensitive by forthcoming critics. For example, the narrative of Rowlandson though provide many examples of Indians’ kindness to her, she seems to blindly accept of the Western stereotype of bad Indians and good “Christians” (Rowlandson, 244). She (Rowlandson) always generalizes by calling Indians “enemies”, “barbarous creatures”, “inhumane creatures” and “infidels” (Rowlandson, 14, 45, 13). Though, this is the case with Rowlandson’s narrative, she has shown the honesty not to omit any of the several kind acts that Indians, especially Indian women, did to her. But in the film, The Searchers, the hero of the film attributes not even a single good quality to the Indians. And in the first scene itself, the lead character, Ethen is seen behaving in a contempt-filled manner to the half Indian, Martin, who is the foster son of his brother (The Searchers). Ethen even rudely tells Martin that he looks like a “half-breed” (The Searchers). Here, it has to be noted that Rowlandson had good reason to hate Indians, but Ethen had none, as far as the viewers know. Even then Ethen is found to be more intolerant towards the Indians than Rowlandson. This contradiction can partially be attributed to Rowlandson being a woman, and Ethen being a man. In all the civilizational clashes in history, men have been the conquerors while women stayed on the margins of such power game. It was never their war. And that is why Ethen is more racist than Rowlandson- because it is Ethen’s (and all the men’s) war actually. There is no where in these two depictions, even a suggestion that Westerners were also imparting similar atrocities upon Indians, which were far more wide spread as compared to the Indian excesses. The puritan attitude of the West of that period, and the hypocrisy involved with that notion is evident from the fact that Ethen wants to murder his brother’s daughter because she became wife to an Indian, and thus strangely deprived of even the affection of her uncle (The Searchers). But in the Rowlandson narrative, Weetamoo, the wife of Rowlandson’s Indian master, is acknowledged as a powerful and self-asserting woman though Rowlandson never seems to fully realize the rights and powers that Indian women enjoy in their society (Rowlandson, 4). Rowlandson herself has described Weetamoo in the words, “a severe and proud dame she was, bestowing every day in dressing herself neat as much time as any of the gentry of the land” (37). In her narrative, there are many Indians and Indian women who give her food and shelter (Rowlandson). For example, an Indian gives her a pancake to eat when she was hungry and another Indian woman gives her a a piece of ...
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