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Author Topic: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II  (Read 328988 times)

Offline Sandy

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Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
« on: January 15, 2008, 09:45:43 AM »
This is a continuation of the earlier thread, Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, which will be archived after a decent interval.

Forum policy requires us not to let threads get over 500 pages for reasons involving space.

Offline Desecra

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Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
« Reply #1 on: January 15, 2008, 10:27:04 AM »
Oh, don't get me started..... :D Oh, Ok, why not, let's rehash!!

Char, sorry, to me its the same old argument-to me the sentence is not at all ambigous and it is presented at the end of the story, of Jack's life, with all the other surprises we were not told about before.  It is an effin shocker, to me, and suddenly it all makes sense, especially Jack's downslide: What we didn't see, generally, on BBM-didn't happen, as far as affection goes....meaning it really was just rough and quick. And once I understood the implication..well....If you really think that sentence thru, you'll see the following holes in the argument that the no f/f and the FNIT were one-offs:

It can't be only one time that they were not f/f-because Jack KNEW it wasn't going to happen; is he psychic? no, experienced, with Ennis;
It IS the only time Ennis was behind him when it was sexless-because Jack notes it as being sexless-why is that special if its happened before?_ and let's remember its the 'single' moment;


I understand for some, many, perhaps,  it's' too painful, and it hurts to think of Heath Ennis treating Jake Jack that way.... ;)



I have never believed that FNIT was a one-off. I have always accepted it as the rule in their sex! It's just that I don't accept that's all they did. I think in seven weeks of having it off six times a day they must have tried some other things. I also agree that Jack knew Ennis wouldn't face him. Where we disagree is a. whether while they were on Brokeback this was a problem for him--Des certainly believes it was, I don't--and of course b. whether this reference to not embracing precludes not only kissing but all forms of tenderness, sex-based and otherwise. This has been so thoroughly argued that I'm not going to go into it again, only try to clarify exactly what it is we disagree about. You say it was the only time Ennis ever touched him with affection on Brokeback, and that Jack always knew there was something missing, I say Ennis was affectionate from time to time as long as it was safely bound up in the immediacy of sex, and that "sexless" refers not to the only time Ennis was behind him w/o sex, but the only time Ennis stepped outside those bounds of playtime only and revealed love. I think while on BB Jack was simply too unsophisticated, with nothing to compare the experience to, to understand that Ennis was withholding anything. He might have been annoyed sometimes because Ennis wouldn't reciprocate a given sex act, but I don't think he was capable at 19 of seeing there was a pattern. Look at Jaime Lynn Spears in 2007--she got pregnant at 16 by a cheatin horndog who is all over anything that will lie down, but she wants to keep the baby and marry him. She is simply too inexperienced, even in this knowledge-filled culture, to understand what a continuing relationship with someone like that is going to mean. Now think about Jack's emotional resources at that point in his life and tell me he knew Ennis was limiting him. I should think he was too worn out from fucking all day to care very much. After the DE, though, he had something that was a startling contrast to all the rough, laughing fun and games they had been having. For the first time in his life, he understood tenderness. But even at 39, he didn't understand why he craved it.

No. At 19 he did not have the ability to understand that anything was lacking--if in fact it was. You, Desecra and Ministering Angel see severe limitations, I see moderate ones. I don't think that even if your understanding is what Annie actually meant that Jack saw any at the time. Whatever he got was great--until the DE.

I agree the writing is not ambiguous. Where we disagree is what it's not ambiguous about. I think '"later" the DE solidified as the one moment in their lives' is about as unambiguous as she gets--like Ennis, Jack thought Brokeback was perfect, while it was happening (and later, whatever limitations he might or might not have understood, the DE remained so). And I don't of course even agree that Jack saw the rest of it as tainted, later on. I am not sure that "nothing marred it" really is intended to convey exactly the opposite, even if you think he only saw it as marred after the final argument. I think it means just what it says: that moment was so perfect that even though Jack later understood that Ennis all along would not embrace him f2f, and this was restricted in the same way, it was still the one moment when Ennis loved him without reservation---AND the one moment when Jack loved Ennis without the baggage of defeated hopes and disillusioned understanding, however limited. (I have tried to leave out the kiss aspect.)

Yes, Oregondoggie, the story is so powerful--and so ambiguous in important places!--that we cannot resist trying to iron it flat. We cannot, of course. I wonder if Annie even can.

(copied in full to follow on from the other thread).

So I think what we're seeing as a difference is whether Jack notices the restrictions at the time, or only later, on reflection.  As you know, I'm suggesting that he notices at the time.    That single moment of artless, charmed happiness suggests that any other apparent happiness wasn't artless - if the lack of artlessness on Brokeback wasn't Ennis's denial and Jack's collusion in that, then what was it?    Possibly Jack could collude without being aware that he was doing so.   But it's suggested he doesn't - not a goddamn word suggests to me that he's thinking that at the time, at some point.  (It could be Ennis's remembering perhaps ...).   We don't see any attempt from Jack to change the situation.   And yet it's implied later that he wanted to - he thinks about one of Ennis's restrictions not marring the DE, which suggests it marred the rest AND he takes it personally - Ennis did not want to see or feel Jack (rather than a man).    It's difficult to imagine that he could be experiencing that and not notice it until later.  And also that he didn't notice the hand-jerking, the sex being limited to quick and rough, the lack of acknowledgement of the sex, no words during sex except a warning?  If they're not talking about I'm guessing that one of them is avoiding talking and the other is following his lead - and we get hints later that it was Ennis who was doing the avoidng and Jack who was doing the following.   So he maybe didn't understand, but he noticed.   But he tried not to rock the boat and to wait it out - as he did for the next 20 years.  I don't know why we would think it wouldn't bother him - it certainly does later.   

There's no indication anywhere that Jack thought Brokeback was perfect, ever.   If it really had been, for him, I think it would have taken more than the punch to keep him away from Ennis at the end.   The reason he keeps away is because the punch was the final blow after those confusing weeks of mixed acceptance and rejection.   If he'd only had the acceptance, he wouldn't have let the punch put him off, if you see what I mean.

This reminds me of what we find out at Lightning Flats (and the DE) - we don't know it at the time, but Jack was not happy with the situation during these 16 years - he'd always been hoping for more, and never getting enough.   And I think it's the same with Brokeback, we don't know at the time, but Jack was biding his time, hoping for more, never getting enough, except once.   And they didn't get much farther than that.

I agree that nothing marred it does mean that nothing marred the DE.   But we're also being told about something else that did mar the rest of the time - it's one of the many times in the book that we get told two big things at once, something 'good' along with something 'bad'.   The 'bad' is important too - or why put it in the story?   Why not leave that line out?
Unless, I say otherwise, I'm probably talking about the short story, not the movie. :)

Offline CANSTANDIT

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Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
« Reply #2 on: January 15, 2008, 11:02:32 AM »
Hi, Char, I have not read Des' reply to your thoughtful explanation..thanks for clarifying your stance on FNIT and such-its been a while since we talked about it.

I don't feel a need to dispute certain affections that go along with mating-just certain other ones, that I think we might well question. Ennis holding Jack during, for example from behind-this supports Jack's surprise at being embraced from behind outside of the 'during', later on. Do you see what I'm saying? So it's clear some back embracing was going on during...but this also leads us to the inevitable question brought up by AP with the no f/f comment; It has to be asked why it was brought up. if not strictly metaphorical-than it is actual.

As to Jack remembering it and feeling a certain way, well, as I said, i see it as just one more surprise. As I said in the other discussion about when the punch occurred: How can a basic truth in the story be founded on an exaggerated or inaccurate memory? Obviously, it can't-what Jack recalls and feels is the real McCoy-because he makes a life-altering revelation with it. We can't parc it out for the sake of easing the terrible truth that things really WERE not right on BBM,, IMO. Jack, again, was the little dog taking what he could from the short leash-and it started on BBM, the minute Ennis said, "INNQ". And Jack was ok with it, even thrilled at times, I'm sure...but the flying high, free like birds, to me, is ENNIS"S pov as communicated by the author-not Jack's. Jack accepted it, and was ok with it. But the limitations were there-and we NEVER find out, until we see Jack's DE memory at the end. It is the critical blow to our illusions., IMO. Did it stop them, and how damaging was it? Those are the questions you've wisely addressed, I think..and I agree, we just maybe don't see the same degree of stoppage and damage.

So I do see what you are saying. :)


Offline janjo

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Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
« Reply #3 on: January 15, 2008, 12:51:56 PM »
What is the deep psychological need to make these restrictions a fact, and for Jack and Ennis to have lived, an albeit literary life, in misery? All of the phrases almost without exception, have to be read determinedly with the desire for restrictions in mind, in order for these restrictions to take concrete form.
Sandy explained some time ago on the"Voldemort" thread, why the "face to face" line doesn't really work linguistically, but even with other interpretations, it can be taken that Ennis and Jack did in fact come face to face, later in their time on the mountain. It would have to be earlier rather than later too, because Ennis was not at that time neglecting the sheep quite as much as he did later, when he was spending more and more time at night with Jack.
We have argued "ad nauseum" about the "Ennis wanted none of it line" too, that also has to be misunderstood for the "restrictions" theory to fit.
They didn't talk a lot during sex. How many nineteen year old boys are really in tune with their feelings? How many nineteen year old boys really have heart to hearts about how they feel about those who engage their affections?
For the "restrictions" theory to work, we have somehow to overlook the line "when they owned the world and nothing seemed wrong." It's meaning has to be changed to "nothing seemed wrong" providing I don't do A,B, or C, which has to be motivated by a sense of shame that we are told is not there.
Ennis could have "pawed the white out of the moon," he was so happy. Nowhere are we told that "Ennis thought he had never had such a good time," providing he didn't look Jack in  the face, touch his genitals, or hug him, even though we do know that he didn't at the time of the DE.
Also, to really accept the restrictions theory we have to have metaphors with the ancient Greek Idylls, and with biblical texts, that no longer really work. Annie Proulx is a realist and a social historian, so in her setting she is not representing a literal paradise, but it does have to seem so to our two protagonists, and I think it does.
If this is not so, why invoke the metaphors at all?
Ennis and Jack, whilst being fictional, do live pretty awful, tortured and miserable lives. One is left dead and the other bereft at the end.
Why does this story HAVE to be made worse?
It is quite hard to do, but it can be done with utter determination, but why, warp the story in this way?
What does it achieve, except for the fact that the story no longer works as well!

« Last Edit: January 15, 2008, 04:24:04 PM by janjo »
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Offline CANSTANDIT

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Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
« Reply #4 on: January 15, 2008, 01:41:42 PM »
=janjo link=topic=28390.msg1140793#msg1140793 date=1200426716]

Quote
What is the deep psychological need to make these restrictions a fact, and for Jack and Ennis to have lived, an albeit literary life, in misery? All of the phrases almost without exception, have to be read determinedly with the desire for restrictions in mind, in order for these restrictions to take concrete form
.

I see it as a deep need to get at the truth..the author wrote what she wrote, J. I see the position that stretches the interpretation of what appears to be direct language to me as illustrating  the feeling you stated below-why does it have to be worse than it is? Only AP can answer that.....I don't think I myself am trying to make it worse-I'm trying to understand what happened in the story, that's all. And like the voldemort question, everytime I see some light at the end of a tunnel, its been pretty well dashed by something else in the story. I now believe I see it for what it is-a love that was doomed from the start, and not just by DRH-but by Ennis, too.

What I find fascinating, is the Reunion is not enough for many people-they have a need to see it as a continuation of BBM, rather than an overjoyed awakening on Ennis's part..I have no  problem viewing that key being unlocked for the first time-at least we get to witness it, and its all positive, not like the hand being brushed off and the red dawn of FNIT....There is nothing negative-until they start talking about the nature of the relationship, in that bed. That is a good clue as to how Ennis restricted the time and maintained the illusion on BBM-they didn't talk about it.

And I do think the story works wonderfully well, and there is a clever and shocking manipulation with AP taking us backwards at the end of the story, not letting us know the truth til either Jack or Ennis is ready for it. It happens in both cases. Its just brilliant, IMO, and a unique example of complete emotional manipulation by a great author.

Offline Sandy

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Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
« Reply #5 on: January 15, 2008, 02:00:53 PM »
For myself, I tend to see the story as a piece artistry that is beholden to its craftsmanship, but I do not see it as a series of manipulations, something I would see more at home in soap opera or sentimental fluff. It's an out-and-out tragedy in a day and age when we thought our cosmpolitan natures, our ennui, our sense of having seen it all wouldn't let us be surprised or shaken.

Accepting it as  tragedy, I don't feel the call to dissect the manipulations or to dissipate the emotional impact in minute analysis. That being the case, I tend to locate the tragedy with the plight of the two characters, and not try to explain it (away) by spinning out sylph-like speculations about whether they actually had sex face to face, whether AIDS loomed in the recesses of their minds, etc. These are distractions from the pain of two emotionally wounded kids.

For the story to work at all, it is necesssary that it is a tragedy. Once we accept that it is a tragedy, it is also sufficient for the story to do its work. AP's artistry lies, in part I believe, in bringing the necessary and the sufficient together in what seems to be inevitably real.

BTW, thanks for bringing the discussion on to the new thread.  :)

Offline Rosewood

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Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
« Reply #6 on: January 15, 2008, 03:12:29 PM »
I'm in rambling mood once again.
(What else is new?) ;D
Please allow me...
I dislike the implication of the word: restrictive.

I agree completely with Janjo's comment about the verbal acuidity of nineteen
year old boys in the first throes of sex and love. How MUCH talking would they
ACTUALLY indulge in? How DEEPLY are they INTERESTED in UNDERSTANDING
what is going on between them? I'm willing to bet that much of what goes on,
at least in the beginning, is ruled by hormones and testosterone and not much else.
The sap flows freely.
I can accommodate this idea quite easily.

IF the boys had been fully-formed men in the first throes of love, then we could
have a different discussion.

That's why I see the '...not a goddamned word...'
spoken by a third party as sheer annoyance AND impatience with Jack and Ennis.
AP's annoyance, since SHE is the one who knows what comes next for
these two. And by the way, here's a thought:
WHAT could Jack and Ennis have SAID during, after, OR ABOUT the sex that would have
changed ANYTHING. Given who they were.

I mean, even when they attempt to speak we get:
I'm not queer.
Me neither.
Lies, or at the very least, denial of fact.
So what do words do for them?
For that matter, what have words EVER done for them?
It is only later, as they age and the situation becomes more and
more untenable that words gain importance.
Or so I see it.
As he ages, Jack becomes starved for words.
Ennis never does.

AP, creating this story, is a woman of a certain age who does not, is not, willing
to suffer the 'foolishness' of Jack and Ennis NOT speaking. And yet, I can't
help but think that she is wise enough to know that boys will be boys.
I mean, WHAT COULD THEY HAVE SAID?
This is strictly a personal aside from me.

We can wonder about all this, but it remains ambiguous enough
in INTENT to make for various and sundry interpretations.
The 'face-to-face' thing is a non-starter,
so, for me, it is moot.

But, I gotta' tell ya',
I could do without the over-precise and often, 'clinical' parsing of every single
word that seems to make the rounds here and on other threads every now
and again. Parsing meant always, I think, to force an interpretation on
perceived 'non-believers'.

If there's ANY problem with English, it is that words can
and often do have SEVERAL meanings. Not to mention that tone itself
can alter that meaning. AND not to mention that we're dealing with a story
in which everyone speaks out of the corner of their mouths and RARELY
say what they ACTUALLY mean. And this might even include the
narrator, who, for reasons of her own stays detached except for when
she doesn't. (I see the narrator making two entries into the mix:
the 'goddamned' word comment and the comments at the DE.)

Needless to say: "When they owned the world and nothing seemed wrong."
is about as unambiguous a statement as we're going to get. I mean, what
part of 'nothing' don't we understand? It is also, one of the more
'unrestrictive' comments made by Ennis, or ANYONE else, for that matter.

And yet:
Did they REALLY own the world?
No.
Did they FEEL AS IF they owned the world?
Yes.
Was EVERYTHING that happened right?
No.
Was EVERYTHING that happened wrong?
No.
(Otherwise Jack and Ennis would have run off together and lived
happily ever after and that would have been that.)
Did they FEEL AS IF NOTHING WAS WRONG?
Yes.
DID they NEED to feel this (most especially Ennis) in order to
proceed as they did up on BBM?
Yes.
To me, this is self-evident.

In the film, the 'nothing seemed wrong' seems to be missing from the mix.
And this is, perhaps, because more is made of Ennis's self-loathing.
Fine.
Although the fact that Ennis VERY OBVIOUSLY DOES NOT WANT TO COME
DOWN FROM THE MOUNTAIN tells us that he does NOT want to face the
reality that he sees rushing towards him. A reality he knows will SPOIL
EVERYTHING.
On the mountain they OWN the world.
Off the mountain, they don't.
Everything comes crashing down then.
EVERYTHING will seem wrong.
On the mountain he and Jack are EVERYTHING.
Off the mountain, they are NOTHING.

Later in the film, we the get hints of the 'nothing seemed wrong' in the
wild rush down the stairs by Ennis in the reunion scene.
There's NOTHING wrong with 'Jack Fuckin' Twist' or the memory which
sprang during those moments of anticipation. In fact, "Nothing" seemed wrong
from the moment the postcard arrives. OR Ennis would NOT have returned
the damn card so quickly and with such a knee-jerk reply meant to bring
Jack running.

Though, of course, AGAIN Ennis cannot carry the emotion
to its fullest realization. He cannot give them the happy ending
that Jack so desperately craves.

I guess we're meant to see that once the wildness of the
long-anticipated sex is over AND despite the fact
that their feelings HAVE NOT changed, have even DEEPENED,
Ennis allows the barrier of 'wrongness' to interfere once again.
(Yes, we KNOW he can't help himself.)
Once again he ALLOWS choice to be taken away.
He allows fear to rule the day.
As he did at the BOTTOM of the mountain.
When reality brought him to his senses.
Or so Ennis would have us think.
Notice: He ALWAYS blames reality.

I don't need ADDITIONAL motivation or heaped-on meaning to make me
like or understand BBM more. This is what I feel some posters are
saying: well, yeah, but look if you would only see it THIS
way, it would mean MORE to you.
No.
It is quite fine enough for me as is.
Literary interpretation (or film interpretation, for that matter)
is not a sacred cow.

More, it is like a pinata.
And we can knock ourselves out trying to mine the 'good' stuff inside.
Or not.
As the inclination warrants.

If we knock BBM around long enough and often enough, I suppose eventually
ALL of its meaning will lie scattered in bits and pieces on the ground.
THEN we can pick and choose the words and phrasing we like best and the hell
with the rest of 'em.
"Tut, tut, child," said the Duchess.
"Everything's got a moral if only you can find it."
                                                  Lewis Carroll

Offline CANSTANDIT

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Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
« Reply #7 on: January 15, 2008, 03:18:00 PM »
You're welcome, Sandy....

However, I do not see anything problematic in dissecting the story-this is after all the nature of this section of the forum, ie, 'Elements and Themes.'  It is up to the individual, I think, as to how important the story is to them personally, but no story is sacrostanct when it come to attempts at objective analysis.

If it offends or disturbs, why engage in it? If someone doesn't like somehing,  find a thread you like...

And my comment about AP's manipulation stands..and I admire her abilities in this arena. This is not a question of right or wrong; it is a work of art, and she does what is necessary to get the reader where she wants them to be. No author goes in without a purpose, IMO. And her very leaving out of certain facts until the end of the story is totally premeditated. Its not an accident. The tragedy is what it is because of some of those factors left out. We feel at the same moment the characters do-there is intent behind that.

Offline CANSTANDIT

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Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
« Reply #8 on: January 15, 2008, 03:24:31 PM »
Re; the question of discussion:

That's great if you feel certain of how you feel about the story, and are not seeing the need for further chat about it...What diff does it make if others choose to still discuss it?

Offline Rosewood

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Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
« Reply #9 on: January 15, 2008, 03:50:21 PM »
Discussion is fine.
(Didn't know I was saying otherwise.)
Obviously, I'm one of the first to indulge.

However, discussion for the purpose of trying to convince
others of the errors of their ways is a different kettle of
fish. THEN it becomes debate.

Occasionally fun.
But only in short duration. ;)

"Tut, tut, child," said the Duchess.
"Everything's got a moral if only you can find it."
                                                  Lewis Carroll

Offline CANSTANDIT

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Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
« Reply #10 on: January 15, 2008, 03:53:44 PM »
Discussion is fine.
(Didn't know I was saying otherwise.)
Obviously, I'm one of the first to indulge.

However, discussion for the purpose of trying to convince
others of the errors of their ways is a different kettle of
fish. THEN it becomes debate.

Occasionally fun.
But only in short duration. ;)


that was a general question, Rose, not just for you; it was brought up. We all feel strongly; But it its too much for them, people should avoid it, I think. It's not for me, and yeah, I'd like to be understood and have my pov understood-but I'd like to understand others', too.

Offline Ministering angel

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Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
« Reply #11 on: January 15, 2008, 03:54:38 PM »

What is the deep psychological need to make these restrictions a fact, and for Jack and Ennis to have lived, an albeit literary life, in misery?
~snip~
What does it achieve, except for the fact that the story no longer works as well!


You are asking people to justify why they need to hold a certain opinion. I guess the simple answer is that each one of us reads the story in our own individual way, and that's all there is to it. However, a discussion thread that consists entirely of people saying "I think this and that's all I'm going to say" would be pretty boring after a while, so all of us offer some explanation as to why we think what we do. Our individual "psychological needs" shouldn't really be a topic for discussion (although I'd be more than happy to talk about them - I just don't think this is the thread to do it on).

Rather than argue each point in your post, may I direct you to this site.

Offline janjo

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Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
« Reply #12 on: January 15, 2008, 04:34:29 PM »
You can direct me where you like Mini, but it doesn't mean I'm gonna go there!
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Offline CANSTANDIT

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Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
« Reply #13 on: January 15, 2008, 04:49:00 PM »
I hope we don't run new posters off discussing whether or not we should be discussing.   :D

Offline janjo

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Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
« Reply #14 on: January 15, 2008, 04:58:48 PM »
I think disecting every word in order to make Annie Proulx's writing fit a fairly way out theory has done that quite effectively enough. We could do with more genuine sharing of discussion, as we have done so many times in the past, rather than bludgeoning every word into submission.
Brokeback short stories at storybyjanjo.livejournal.com

"Are birds free from the chains of the skyway?"
Ballad in plain D: Bob Dylan