In relation to the western landscape, Tompkins' writes "be brave, be strong enough to endure this, it says, and you will become like this-hard, austere, and sublime" (71). Truly, Ethan has been hardened by the call of nature. He shows no emotion, never displaying the vulnerability of those who travel alongside him. While Brad is crazed by the unrelenting desert, Ethan stands alongside it, matching its fierceness. His physical appearance parallels that of the landscape. He is reddened by the sun, caked with dirt, rugged like the desert itself.
Much like the characteristic cowboy, "he was as merciless as the frontier that bred him" (73). Ethan was relentless in his search for the Comanche tribe. He was intent on finding his niece, with or without the help of the others. Though months passed without solid leads, Ethan continued his search for Debbie. He was not phased by blizzards, or scorching heat. Tompkins writes that "if nature's wildness and hardness test his strength and will and intelligence, they also give him solace and refreshment" (81). Ethan does not belong sheltered up within the confines of a home. He seeks the openness and barrenness that the desert offers him. And after returning Debbie to her home at last, he rides out back into the desert, a land of endless possibilities.