This paper examines how and why Owen Wister``s The Virginian has been considered to mark the beginning of the modern Western. In order to examine the validity of its status as the prototype of the Western, the paper begins with a comparative reading of two film versions, focusing on what gets changed in the films so that I may gain a clue in understanding the importance of the ending of the text. Then I explore the split of the plot in the text, and its resolution in the ending. The ending, in which not only the marriage between the Virginian and Molly but also their move to the East are depicted, symbolizes a happy union between the West and the East. By dissolving a serious historical threat in a symbolic mode of resolution, Wister creates a kind of moral fantasy about the West as a symbolic topos in which the progressive ideology of American expansion is not hampered by the closing of the frontier. This aspect of wish-fulfillment played a big part in helping this novel enthroned in the status of the Ur-Western text.