The scene I have picked for this weeks blog post is when the first attack on a near by ranch has taken place and the rev/captain Samuel Johnston Clayton forces the men into joining a temporary squad of law enforcement.
During this scene a couple of western themes are challenged the most prominent being that of protagonist as a two dimensional hero. Here Ethan played John Wayne is questioned on his past by the reverend, this is shown as soon as the two characters are being reintroduced with the reverend calling him the "prodigal brother" as the very definition of prodigal is someone who is wasteful or reckless. Instantly they both hark back to the days of the civil war where Samuel quips that Ethan was absent on the day of the surrender, this is not the first time that Ethan's past had been questioned in the film but it does help to reinforce the idea that he is not the all American hero we are used to in westerns. After Ethan steps in for his brother the two then lock horns over the oath as Ethan claims it "wouldn't be legal anyway" again the two men are engaged in a long silent staring contest which ironically is very common of the western genre, when asked if Ethan is wanted for a crime its met by another long silence until Ethan criticizes the reverend for his loyalty to the federal government.
Also the theme of masculinity is brought into play but only subtly, this is demonstrated when Ethan takes Aaron's place claiming if there is an attack by Indians, Aaron should stay back implying that the women are incapable of defending the home. This theme defiantly conforms with the norms of the genre especially in this scene, with the men arriving into the cabin and being swarmed by the women make sure they are fed and rested.
This scene does lend itself to the myth of the western genre through the given hatred towards native Americans, as they show an intense fear when Ethan proposes the attack could well have come from a local tribe.
Another issue this film raises again only in a subtle way is that of Americas laws and close relation to Christianity in modern times (1956) as in the norms of the western genre the parts of clergymen and law enforce are normally separate but here are played by the same actor this may well be a reference to this very problem.
To add to the complexity of Ethan's character there does seem to be an odd connection between him and Aaron's wife, this has led to theories that the two had an affair and that Debbie is in fact Ethan's daughter. If this what the writers had planned then it would very much go against the classic western hero such as "Shane" a man that could do no wrong apposed to "The Searches" where we find a flawed protagonist that could be on his way to seek out redemption or vengeance.