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Author Topic: Character Analysis of Ennis Del Mar  (Read 480795 times)

Offline peteinportland

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Character Analysis of Ennis Del Mar
« on: January 27, 2006, 01:14:17 AM »
It is past time for this topic. This is the thread to talk about Ennis Del Mar. Discuss any and everything about this character.

« Last Edit: May 16, 2006, 06:28:19 AM by peteinportland »

Offline blairski

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Re: Element: Character Analysis of Ennis Del Mar
« Reply #1 on: January 27, 2006, 01:55:46 AM »

Okay, I'll start.  I've been thinking about this since I saw the movie again yesterday.

Ennis acted really badly to the people in his life, more so in the movie than in the story. 
 - That look he gives Alma in the grocery store when she doesn't want to take the kids.  He's bullying her.
 - Same with when she has to work and he wants her to stay home and put supper on the table.
 - He has sex with Alma in a way that seems unpleasant for her.
 - He ignores Cassie's notes, then says "Seems you got the message".  That's just mean.
 - I think he loves his daughters, but he's really sporadic in their lives.  He is 2 years behind on knowing who his daughter is dating when Junior comes to announce she's getting married.
 - And with Jack, the Ennis character in the movie doesn't have the lines that I _hear_ now that I've read the story, the lines that show how much he missed him and how important the relationship is to him.  If you just watch the film, after the months on BBM and the reunion kiss, we don't see him giving Jack much care and affection.

Why do they all love him so?  Even Alma, their Thanksgiving confrontation starts with her saying that she and the girls worry about him.  Why do _I_ love him?  He's by far my favorite character, I can't take my eyes off him when he's on the screen.

Some ideas:  He's charismatic and charming.  He's the archetype of the strong, silent male.  He's absolutely gorgeous, which doesn't hurt.  And he's so broken.  It just makes you want to hold him and try to ease his pain. 

Other ideas?






Offline chaya

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Re: Element: Character Analysis of Ennis Del Mar
« Reply #2 on: January 27, 2006, 04:45:39 AM »
Okay, I'll start.  I've been thinking about this since I saw the movie again yesterday.

Ennis acted really badly to the people in his life, more so in the movie than in the story. 
 - That look he gives Alma in the grocery store when she doesn't want to take the kids.  He's bullying her.
 - Same with when she has to work and he wants her to stay home and put supper on the table.
 - He has sex with Alma in a way that seems unpleasant for her.
 - He ignores Cassie's notes, then says "Seems you got the message".  That's just mean.
 - I think he loves his daughters, but he's really sporadic in their lives.  He is 2 years behind on knowing who his daughter is dating when Junior comes to announce she's getting married.
 - And with Jack, the Ennis character in the movie doesn't have the lines that I _hear_ now that I've read the story, the lines that show how much he missed him and how important the relationship is to him.  If you just watch the film, after the months on BBM and the reunion kiss, we don't see him giving Jack much care and affection.

Why do they all love him so?  Even Alma, their Thanksgiving confrontation starts with her saying that she and the girls worry about him.  Why do _I_ love him?  He's by far my favorite character, I can't take my eyes off him when he's on the screen.

Some ideas:  He's charismatic and charming.  He's the archetype of the strong, silent male.  He's absolutely gorgeous, which doesn't hurt.  And he's so broken.  It just makes you want to hold him and try to ease his pain.  Other ideas?


All of the above is so true.  It also got me thinking about how Ennis has this deep running undercurrent of love and great need for affection, love he wants to have, to share but has so much difficulty expressing this. And it seems like the people in his life sense this, feel it, and keep trying to access it...Jack trying to get him to open up and relax, Alma wanting him to move to town so he won't be so lonely, Cassie's futile attempts to get him interested, Alma Jr.'s unabashed love and affection for her father. 

Knowing Ennis as we do, the little touches of affection he does give - holding onto Jack's arm in the motel room scene, being sweet to his daughters during the Thgiving dinner, the dozy embrace, have that much more impact.  I had a father who was very much like Ennis, minus the violence. Every little emotional crumb people like this throw at you feels like gold.  It's a sad irony that these silent, wounded types get fussed over more than the open loving people who give so freely of themselves.

He's also very thin-skinned, very emotional. If his character was only strong and silent, he wouldn't be so interesting, so compelling.  He also has a sexy, wry sense of humor. As far as being absolutely gorgeous, gotta differ on that one - Jake takes that prize!
"Three puppies belonging to one of the blue heelers went in a pack basket, the runt inside Jack's coat, for he loved a little dog." Annie Proulx, BBM

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Offline zach

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Re: Element: Character Analysis of Ennis Del Mar
« Reply #3 on: January 27, 2006, 05:03:59 AM »
One scene that I love is when Ennis is talking about his horrible life up to the point of his meeting Jack.  His discussion is so matter of fact about the parents death, losing the ranch, his brother kicking him out, not going to school because of the transmission going out, etc.  Then he very charmingly says in kind of a sing-song way, "and that's how I ended up here".

Offline alma

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Re: Element: Character Analysis of Ennis Del Mar
« Reply #4 on: January 27, 2006, 06:59:50 AM »
Part of what brought Ennis to life for me was Heath's realization of the character. He has a disarming smile anyway, but when he restrained it and it barely leaked out, you felt like there was a whole world of human being to explore that would be worth knowing. So difficult to do that well, successfully.


Offline Island in the Sea

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Re: Element: Character Analysis of Ennis Del Mar
« Reply #5 on: January 27, 2006, 08:51:38 PM »
The name “Ennis” is Gaelic for “sole or only choice” or “island”.  Del Mar is Spanish for “of the sea” or “from the sea”.  I bend the translation a little to make “Ennis Del Mar” mean “island in the sea”. 

He and Jack Twist are opposites. They come from opposite sides of the state. Ennis comes from near a place called Sage. This place name suggests that Ennis might be "wise", or at least think that he is wise.

Ennis follows closely the life-script that he has been given.  He will do what he is told, work hard, marry, have kids and provide for his family.  Having fun is not part of the script.

Ennis learns few things, but believes them to be unalterably true.  He rarely gets a perspective on his feelings or his relationships. Ennis says of himself, “ All the travelin I ever done is goin around the coffee pot lookin for the handle”.  Alma, when she accuses him of not fishing on his trips with Jack, says, “ … and that (fishing) line hadn’t touched water in its life.” These are metaphors for Ennis' failure to explore the outer and inner worlds.

Ennis takes his responsibilities seriously, if unimaginatively. He will work hard, but not work smart. He doesn't apply for the jobs with the power company or the county. One reason he won't move in with Jack is that he feels responsible for his wife and kids. I think he adds Jack onto his list of responsibilities. Eventually he fails to discharge his responsibilities because he has taken on too much.





Offline David

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Re: Element: Character Analysis of Ennis Del Mar
« Reply #6 on: January 28, 2006, 02:00:10 PM »
Ennis has subterranean rivers of emotion running beneath the surface which we see bursting to the surface on occasion. The short story definitely indicates Ennis has deep feelings despite his stoic demeanor. Perhaps we are drawn to him because we see this and hope against hope for him...that he will be reconciled to his deep capacity to feel and love, whereas Ennis is not aware of or doesn't know what to do with any of these feelings or emotions.
The huge sadness of the Northern plains rolled down on him.

Offline angela_toronto

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Re: Element: Character Analysis of Ennis Del Mar
« Reply #7 on: January 28, 2006, 09:01:28 PM »
i dont think of ennis as being unambitious.  he wanted an education, in the book he drove an hour each way to school and gave up on school only when the transmission went.  he didnt read because he was far-sighted (and too poor to afford socks, never mind glasses).  also, in the book it says he stuck with menial jobs that he could pick up and drop when he needed to, and he needed to a couple of times a year to meet with jack.

without a well-paying job and with a broken marriage (requiring him to pay child support), ennis was doomed to poverty.

me, i think his children were precious to him.  after a long hard day at work when he looked ready to pass out from fatigue, he thought to take his little girls into town on the weekend for an icecream.  going that extra step for them.  also, no matter how badly he wanted to be with jack, he put his child support payments first.  probably reflective of the poverty he was forced into when he was orphaned, and not wanting his children to endure that same burden.  also, he knew alma jr was troubled and prompted her a couple of times to share her thoughts (when she asked to move in with him).  as much as he loved her, he did the right thing by insisting she stay in the stable home she had with her mother and munroe.

ennis was not a good husband, but i feel he was a good father.

Offline westexer

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Re: Element: Character Analysis of Ennis Del Mar
« Reply #8 on: January 28, 2006, 09:26:14 PM »
I think Ennis is like many men that I've known.  He feels a strong sense of responsiblity and has a strong sense of HAVING to do what's right.  That there's a set of rules in life that ya have no choice but ta follow or bad things will happen.  Namely, you're goin ta hell.  You can see that struggle in Ennis as the movie goes on and tha frustration it causes him cause his mindset doesn't fit with what his emotions are drawn to.  AND ya also have that layer of fear instiled in him by his father combined with tha sense that it'll happen ta him or someone he cares for someday.  I've seen so many men like him.  They have this family reinforced instilled image what what is supposed ta be tha right path in adulthood (marriage, family, kids, providin, etc) and when there inner urges and attractions don't fit, depression, bitterness and isolation sets in.  He becomes an island in tha rough seas of life.

Also, tha more suppressed a man is, tha stronger tha personality that draws him out has ta be.  Hence one Mr. Jack Twist makes all hell break loose in Ennis life and triggers tha grand battle.

Offline phlmale

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Re: Element: Character Analysis of Ennis Del Mar
« Reply #9 on: January 28, 2006, 09:29:26 PM »

Okay, I'll start.  I've been thinking about this since I saw the movie again yesterday.

Ennis acted really badly to the people in his life, more so in the movie than in the story. 
 - That look he gives Alma in the grocery store when she doesn't want to take the kids.  He's bullying her.
 - Same with when she has to work and he wants her to stay home and put supper on the table.
 - He has sex with Alma in a way that seems unpleasant for her.
 - He ignores Cassie's notes, then says "Seems you got the message".  That's just mean.
 - I think he loves his daughters, but he's really sporadic in their lives.  He is 2 years behind on knowing who his daughter is dating when Junior comes to announce she's getting married.
 - And with Jack, the Ennis character in the movie doesn't have the lines that I _hear_ now that I've read the story, the lines that show how much he missed him and how important the relationship is to him.  If you just watch the film, after the months on BBM and the reunion kiss, we don't see him giving Jack much care and affection.

Why do they all love him so?  Even Alma, their Thanksgiving confrontation starts with her saying that she and the girls worry about him.  Why do _I_ love him?  He's by far my favorite character, I can't take my eyes off him when he's on the screen.

Some ideas:  He's charismatic and charming.  He's the archetype of the strong, silent male.  He's absolutely gorgeous, which doesn't hurt.  And he's so broken.  It just makes you want to hold him and try to ease his pain. 

Other ideas?



i think it's important to go back to see how Ennis was as he met Jack, before the relationship started...i identify heavily with this character...he was brought up (as was Jack, a bond they share) idealizing the cowboy macho mystique..he wants a ranch, Jack is chasing the rodeo circuit.  but he's undereducated, he wanted more for himself but couldn't continue school much past 9th grade.  He was abandoned by his parents, then by his sister, finally by his brother..all he has in the world is in that paper sack at the beginning.  He can't handle deep intimate emotion..it's foreign to him..he can't express fear and love, he just bottles it in, get's a stiff upper lip and just endures whatever is going on......his only other strong emotion is anger/violence..his father taught him this as a way to "hurt them before they hurt you".

So this poor wreck of a man is just 19, acts likes he's 40, emotionally unable to respond..yet I really believe deep inside he is sensitive to his effect on others, and pained by it...and yes, you are absolutely right that others come near him, find his sweet gentle albeit tight-lipped nature alluring, fall in love..and get hurt when he is unable to respond emotionally.  Now add that he found his soulmate..the one person he can be vulnerable to, cry in front of, share his life disappointments etc..but this is a man not a woman, and that sets the inner chaos he already contains right over the edge.

It's striking in the film how many people truly fall for/love Ennis compared to the other characters....obviously Jack, but Alma truly loved him too, as did Cassie, and his daughters..quite an impact in life for a man who can't express love very well

Ennis truly loves Jack, but otherwise Jack's marriage to Lureen never seemed to be based on love..but rather need..Jack was not respected by his own texas family, nor his father...this despite Jack being the outgoing, optimistic loveable charmer..

....when I watch this movie I can't decide who's life was more miserable, Jack's or Ennis'

So I think Ennis was really trying the best he could with his various relationships..many doomed because of his choices/actions (inactions)...let me cling to the idea that his daughter will continue to have an effect on him late in his life..otherwise, the thought of his remaining existence in that trailer is just too much to bear.

« Last Edit: January 29, 2006, 07:34:33 AM by phlmale »

Offline NYboy

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Re: Element: Character Analysis of Ennis Del Mar
« Reply #10 on: January 29, 2006, 02:28:05 PM »
I just noticed on my second viewing the juxtaposition of the dancing scenes.  Jack asks Randall's wife to dance and gets up on the dance floor and does just fine.  Ennis has to be dragged up to dance by Cassie and is all self-conscious and awkward.  I think this is another example of the difference between our two boys.  Confident Jack and Self-Conscious Ennis. 

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Re: Element: Character Analysis of Ennis Del Mar
« Reply #11 on: January 29, 2006, 03:00:01 PM »
Ennis at the tender age of 9 was exposed (by his father) to a murder. The actual words expressed by his father remain unknown but to say the least they were harsh, judgemental and without conscience. What impact would this have, what exactly did Ennis' father accomplish. Clearly Ennis had little mentoring from his parents, then when they died he was mentored by the inexperience of his brother and sister. There is apparently little in the way of support for the situation Ennis, his brother and sister or from the greater community.
Did these incidents influence his development. Yes they did. Like others have said in here he did what he was told and unfortunately didn't use all of the resources available to him.
He seemed to embrace love from Jack, his kids and Alma. He understood that much and he gave it back and when he did it was beautiful to watch. Very emotional. I was that man too.

Offline valkyrie

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Re: Element: Character Analysis of Ennis Del Mar
« Reply #12 on: January 29, 2006, 03:03:52 PM »
Ennis is a character I find in many men, knowing several farm guys. Thight-lipped and silent. And yet, Ennis do so many things taht to mee makes him so coulnerable behind the stiffened body.
First off all I think to both having been forced to see a lynched man in a ditch with his genitals ripped away, then loosing your parent as a child being left alone with 2 sibling. As far as I can see he must been suffer from PTS. How can he be comfortable with his feelings not given hardly a chance of cultivating them in a healthy way or even express them? And then he finds himself in love with a man!!
But look at his hands, the way he hold Jacks head when they kiss, -the way he relates to his two daughters. I find him very endaring, yet with a dangerous violent streak in him.

Offline lektronnorth

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Re: Element: Character Analysis of Ennis Del Mar
« Reply #13 on: January 29, 2006, 03:43:02 PM »
I had a father very like Ennis. I was unfortunately taught as a child to discount him - I was a pawn in my mother's war against my father, who would go down to the bottom of the garden and light huge fires of garden rubbish to get out of the situation. I didn't see what was going on with this until well into my twenties, to my ever lasting shame.

When I came back home from university for the first weekend for about a month, my father heard the car in the drive, and flung the front door open, and was about to wrench the car door off its hinges to give me a hug, when he........realised what he was doing, stopped dead in his tracks, and said "Good to see you" very formally.  I've never forgotten that moment.

One of the most revealing scenes with Ennis is when Alma & his war against each other (it's a cold war according to Annie's story) is going on.  Alma's doing her overtime at the store - (does anyone think she's having an affair with the store manager - he fancies her enough to clear up the wreckage of the shop display...) and Ennis follows her to the corner, screaming that no-one's going to eat the dinner unless she serves it.  He then stops, asks the kids if they need a push on their swings, kicks over a trashcan, and storms up the stairs.

He's totally trapped in a loveless relationship, desperate to do the right thing for his children in a 1960s masculine way, and unable to break out because of his inability to express who he is and recognise it.

I later discovered that my father was always accused of being gay, by my mother, who it seems had heard rumours of him being found during his army days with another man sitting on his lap.
Like father, like son, I suppose. I'm very like Ennis. But I so desperately want the "place where the bluebirds sing and there's a whiskey spring" which you only get through being Jack.

How is it possible that this film can do this to all of us? 
« Last Edit: January 29, 2006, 03:48:01 PM by lektronnorth »
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Offline bkm

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Re: Element: Character Analysis of Ennis Del Mar
« Reply #14 on: January 29, 2006, 09:58:31 PM »
It's interesting that Jack being very boisterous,outgoing does not endear him to other people except Ennis.Look at Jack's interactions with others ,although he is a loud talker,others as in the bar ,rodeo,and work scenes.seem to ignore Jack or make cracks about him. It seems to me that Lureen viewed him as a challenge for herself or a way to tweek her fathers nose,thinking that he would be a foil for her father. Jacks own son does not seem to hold much admiration for him.Ennis on the other hand ,seems to attract love and attention in his quiet ways.(from family and coworkers and Jack of course>Is ennis one of those people that posses a certain aura that people are atrracted to?Still waters run deep.Also Jack is so verbal with his feelings and emtions.Ennis'outlet for emotion is more one of touch,whether in anger or in love. Ennis holding his children so much,arms around Alma,hitting in others in anger,rubbing Cassiess feet,carressing Jacks shirt. His touch must have had a great effect on Jack. In some ways Jack and Ennis are complete opposites ,but together create one.