The Searchers

The Searchers Summary and Analysis of Part 5


Back home, the Jordensens host a party at their home. Clayton comes in with Charlie, who is holding flowers and intends to marry Laurie that evening. Clayton gets ready and enters the room for the wedding.

Outside, Ethan and Marty arrive at the house, and Marty wonders if they are throwing a party for their arrival. As Jorgensen comes down the steps with flowers and sees the two of them, he tells them they cannot come inside the house, as they are both wanted for the murder of Futterman. Laurie comes down the steps in her wedding dress and stares at Marty, as Ethan goes into the house, undeterred by Jorgensen's warning.

Inside, Ethan approaches the punch bowl, and tells Mrs. Jorgensen that Debbie is alive. When he hears that Marty is there, Charlie rushes off to confront him. The scene shifts to Laurie talking to Marty; she is disappointed that he didn't write to her more or ask her to wait for him. "I always loved you. I thought you knew that without me having to say it," Marty says.

Marty decides he should go away, and Laurie throws herself into his arms, just as Charlie comes into the room and asks them to let go of one another. Marty cannot believe that Laurie is going to marry Charlie, and when Charlie confronts Marty about the fact that he had a Comanche wife, Marty goes to strike him, but Charlie strikes him down first.

Marty challenges Charlie to a fight outside and Laurie runs away. Charlie puts down a piece of firewood and tells Marty to spit over it, which he does. Marty wrestles Charlie, biting him in the process of the fight. Clayton and the others try to get in the middle of the fight, but to no avail. Laurie watches the fight, pretending to be appalled, but smiling to herself discreetly. At the end of the fight, the men shake hands and Charlie says he doesn't want to get married anymore.

Clayton asks Ethan and Marty to come with him to the state capitol. Clayton says, "Likely you had your reasons for killing Futterman, maybe you needed to, but I'm talking to you now as a ranger, not as a preacher. The fact that all three was shot in the back was the only thing that raised some question, that and a missing gold piece that was known to have been on him just prior to his demise." He asks Ethan to hand over his gun, which Ethan does.

A soldier sent by Colonel Greenhill, his son Lieutenant Greenhill, enters and asks if Clayton can put a group of soldiers together to do battle with Scar. Apparently Mose was taken hostage by Scar a few days prior and has told nearby soldiers that Scar is in the area. Ethan rushes out and brings Mose into the Jorgensens' house. They sit him down in a rocking chair by the fire and he tells them that Scar is at "Seven Fingers."

Marty identifies the location as the Seven Fingers of Brazos, and Clayton tells Greenhill that he will have 14 soldiers ready the next day. Greenhill doesn't think this is a good idea, but Clayton insists. Clayton enlists Ethan to help, without pay.

Outside, Laurie asks Marty not to go to battle the next day, but Marty says he has to bring her home. "Do you know what Ethan will do if he has a chance? He'll put a bullet in her brain. Martha would want him to," Laurie says to Marty. "Only if I'm dead," Marty says, skulking off.

That night, Ethan stands on a cliff in the dark with Clayton, looking down at the Comanche camp. They plot their move for the morning, and Clayton addresses his soldiers, who are receiving 12 dollars a month for their service. The plan is to charge the camp at sunrise. In the middle of Clayton's speech, Marty speaks up and says that if they charge in the morning, the Comanche will kill Debbie. "That's what I'm countin' on," says Ethan, but Marty is intent on keeping Debbie alive.

"Better living with Comanches than her brains bashed out," Marty says, but Ethan and Clayton insist that there is more at stake than just Debbie's safety. "You remember that scalp strung on Scar's lance?" Ethan asks Marty, "It was your mother's."

This does not deter Marty, who wants a chance to get Debbie out of the camp before they charge. Clayton says he can do so, but that they will charge in "at the first sign of alarm."

Marty climbs down the face of a cliff and sneaks into the Comanche camp. Meanwhile, Lieutenant Greenhill finds Clayton to tell him that his father's men are assembling and headed that way. Greenhill asks to stay, and Clayton reluctantly agrees. They slowly approach the Comanche camp and mount their horses.

The scene shifts to Marty sneaking into Scar's teepee and waking Debbie. She screams at first, but Marty comforts her and tells her he's taking her away from the Comanche camp. She agrees, embracing him, as Scar enters the tent. Marty fires his gun at Scar, and at the sound of gunshots, Clayton and his men ride towards the camp.

A battle ensues. Ethan goes into Scar's tent, where he finds him dead. He slits the chief's throat. When he sees Debbie outside the tent, she runs for it and he goes to follow her, but Marty jumps up and tries to stop him. Ethan chases Debbie down a hill towards a cave. When she falls on the ground, he picks her up and says, "Let's go home, Debbie."

After the battle, the Rangers return home to the Jorgensens. Laurie runs to Marty, who takes her hand. Mrs. Jorgensen weeps as she sees Debbie returned home safely and brings her into the house. As everyone goes into the house, Ethan stays on the porch, before wandering back to his horse.


Marty and Ethan have a great deal of drama waiting for them when they get home. They arrive at the Jorgensens just in time for Laurie's wedding to Charlie, and promptly find out that they are wanted for the murder of Futterman. After the disappointment of finding that Debbie doesn't even need saving, Marty and Ethan find that they do not have any place to call home. After years of searching and trying to do the right thing, they are rejected left and right at the end of the road.

Just when it seems that Ethan and Marty's mission is over, a young lieutenant arrives with word that Scar is in the area. While it had seemed like Ethan and Marty were done with their mission, having finally learned that the search for Debbie has all been for naught—she did not want to be found—Scar is back with a vengeance. The return of Scar promises that there will be a definitive battle to close out the film.

The revelation that Debbie is happy with her fate as a Comanche wife completely changes the stakes of the film. While Ethan and Marty have spent the entire movie looking to save little Debbie from Scar's clutches, once they learn of her fate, it seems that she is safer with her new Comanche companions than with the white people back at home. Laurie suggests that Ethan will put a "bullet in her brain," and that it's what her mother would want. Time and time again, the settlers suggest that death is a better fate than life as an integrated member of the Comanche tribe.

The only person who seems to disagree with this ethos is Marty, who is determined to keep Debbie safe. When Laurie suggests that Martha would rather her daughter be killed than accepted back after her life with the Comanche, Marty suggests that he will never let that happen and that he will do everything in his power to stand in the way of her getting murdered. Marty has vastly different ideas about the ethical implications of her choice to live among the tribe, as evidenced when he says to Clayton, "Better living with Comanches than her brains bashed out."

The end of the film is a recall of the first moments of the film. The heroic Rangers return to the family home, as the Jorgensens wait on their porch. The image evokes the fact that the white settlers are once again safe from the Comanche. With Debbie returned home, and the threat of miscegenation destroyed, the pioneers can rest easy and find safety in the Christian family home.