FRONTIER AS ESCAPE FROM THE CITY
- As with other binary oppositions,cinema Westerns pose a tension between life in the city, particularly eastern cities, and life outdoors on the frontier. Looming always as a subtext in Westerns is the existence of those cities back East. Acowboy hero such as John Bernard Books (John Wayne) in The Shootist (1976) only comes into the city when he is about to die after spending his life on the frontier. Since most normative characters in Westerns are situated in the lower middle classes, the threat of a return to the city also means the possibility of a return to the ghetto where most frontier types would be if they were part of the city. The frontier serves as an escape from squalid urbanity.
Historical Dictionary of Westerns in Cinema. Paul Varner. 2012.
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