When discussing a cowboy and the desert, Tompkins states that “the single most important relationship [he has] is to the land. They are in constant contact with it – thinking about it, using it, enjoying it, fearing it, seeing it, smelling it, touching it, hearing it.” The desert is uncivilized, and as a result, the cowboy is, for the most part, on his own. He learns to survive in the extreme conditions by mimicking them, becoming one with the desert. In The Searchers, Ethan, the hero, is a cowboy who returns to his sister’s home after being alone in the desert for many years. He has characteristics that Tompkins uses to describe the desert: powerful, controlling, hard, unforgiving and hostile. Ethan is powerful and controlling when he leads a search group to find his niece, during which he is unforgiving to the Indians for what they have done to his family and he is hostile with them and anyone who stands in his way of rescuing his niece. The desert is a lonely place and Ethan, after returning his niece to the Jorgensens’ ranch, Ethan leaves and the ranch door closes on him. This shows that he is disconnected from society and belongs with the desert.