The American Frontier used to refer to the Old West where numerous individuals committed their lives to finding a new life, creating a new town, and experiencing numerous hardships and adventures in the process. In the present, however, the West has been depicted more and more as the era of gunslingers, cowboys, bandits, and saloons. These perceptions of the west although showing part of the culture of the Old West, these images and impressions greatly detract from the depth of what the American Frontier was truly about. Even the word “frontier” has come to be used in a completely different manner. Instead of referring to a boundary between the backward past and the promising future, the frontier is now simply used to describe something newer and more advanced.
In the works of both Steinbeck and McMurtry, this change in the conception of the American Frontier and the West has already been referred to. In both works, especially in Steinbeck’s The Leader of the People, the Western Frontier is said to have already “closed”. There is no more land to explore and the expansion has ended. But as the grandfather says, the frontier did not mean reaching the endpoint of the expansion, it was the adventure and the experience of being at the head of the wagons, of being at the head of “westerning”. Because the goals of today’s society are different from the goals of the times of the Old West, the characters also need to change to adapt to the New West. This is by using the same spirit of adventurism and exploration that they used in the time of western expansion and applying this in the present time of expansion of science and technology. Today’s expansion is not in terms of land and property but of the mind and innovation. An open mind is needed for the old characters who experienced the times of the Wild West. They need to be ready to accept that the brute and brawn they used to claim the lands of the Old West need to be laid down to establish successful towns of the new age.