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Author Topic: Symbolism & Imagery, II  (Read 47569 times)

Offline suelyblu

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Re: Symbolism & Imagery, II
« Reply #240 on: November 05, 2015, 05:06:50 PM »
Yes, the hail and also the unanswered ringing phone in the room next door and the screen door banging in the wind. All attention grabbing sounds that would make you nervous if you were laying with your lover cheating on your wives. 

Annie Proulx is so good and all her stories are like this.  Since the short, compact Brokeback Mountain, I've read most of her short story collections and novels.  Wonderful writing but prepare for many less than happy endings.

Yes....that paragraph with all of those elements described in it....made me think of Alma
rapping on the window trying to get Ennis to come out...and all of the other  angry noises .... was like the raging world trying to get in on their perfect ...but desperate few hours together.
"I  know that ghosts have wondered on the earth,
 Be with me always. Take any form. Drive me mad,
 only do not leave me in the dark alone, where I cannot
 find you.
 I cannot live without my life.
 I cannot die without my soul.
                                          .

Offline Ministering angel

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Re: Symbolism & Imagery, II
« Reply #241 on: November 07, 2015, 12:24:37 AM »
Sue, thank you so much for bringing the outside element to my attention, and twister, thank you for adding to it.

I don't think I've ever considered those outside noises as being like the world making its presence known but it makes perfect sense, just as Ennis interprets the bestial drone as being some sort of judgement as they ride off the mountain. In their tiny room they are surrounded by a hostile world. On the mountain Ennis felt that "they owned the world", they felt themselves invisible, and yet they were being spied on even up there, and the world they might have owned was very circumscribed.

Sue, the hail is a fascinating aspect. Hail crops up three times in the story:
the blowy hailstorm which scatters the sheep and leaves a disquieted Ennis feeling that "everything seemed mixed"

A few handfuls of hail rattled against the window, and

In May of 1983 they spent a few cold days at a series of little icebound, no-name high lakes, then worked across into the Hail Strew River drainage.

Each time there are turning points in the story, Ennis's first feelings of discomfort about what is happening, after his previous joyous indulgence in the sex, the reunion when what starts out so promisingly (in Jack's eyes) is shown to be a hopeless case, and the last trip when it all goes tits up (to use one of AP's story titles). Mind you, in such a tight story, virtually every part is a turning point of one sort or another.

However, for me the major point for the hail in the motel scene is the connection with The Aeneid. In The Aeneid, Aeneas (Ennis) meets Dido and their first night of sex, that Dido considers her wedding night, is in a cave accompanied by thunder, lightning and hail. That night is described as the beginning of the tragedy and the destruction which follows. True enough. For Jack, the motel room is where he essentially proposes to Ennis, and Ennis's wishy-washy response keeps Jack hanging on for a further sixteen years. In The Aeneid, Aeneas deserts Dido (he's married, he has other duties, you know how it goes) and Dido, distraught, kills herself. Too much of BBM follows The Aeneid for it to be coincidental.

Second however - I think AP is able to layer the story many times over, so although Ennis sounds suspiciously like Aeneas, the names (as far as I can tell) have entirely different meanings (Aeneas = praise, Ennis = island, and for sure AP twines watery references throughout the story and has her Ennis as a lonely man in the middle of a sea - del Mar, his father's surname). And so on. So the hail in the motel scene is both a reference to the cave, the wedding night as Dido perceived it, but it also has those other exclusively BBM meanings.

That's how I see it anyway.  :)
« Last Edit: November 07, 2015, 12:31:29 AM by Ministering angel »

Offline Twister1

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Re: Symbolism & Imagery, II
« Reply #242 on: November 07, 2015, 04:03:41 AM »
The Aeneid, now that's an old tragic story. 
I almost forgot about that one but not the dreaded lit classes. Insert a "shudder" emoticon here. lol  Good call angel!

Offline Ministering angel

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Re: Symbolism & Imagery, II
« Reply #243 on: November 09, 2015, 04:50:36 AM »
Thanks, Twister, but it was a very early poster on this forum, Casey Cornelius, who first brought up the Aeneid connection (that I saw anyway). But it fascinates me, especially in the way it provides answers to one or two questions, e.g. did Jack quit, and how did he die; what is the meaning of "I swear"; what is the relationship between Ennis and his women (mother, wife, daughters). Good stuff.

Offline royandronnie

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Re: Symbolism & Imagery, II
« Reply #244 on: June 21, 2017, 08:00:14 AM »
Has anyone ever written about the coffee on the stove in the Prologue? "The stale coffee is boiling, but he catches it before it goes over the side…" It's not heated in a coffee pot, it's in a "chipped enamel pan," just like the ones they used on Brokeback. I would say there's lots of little Ennis/Jack echoes there. The coffee is stale, yet he reheats it, and presumably, when it's hot, it will suffuse him with a feeling of pleasure--like his dream of Jack. The coffee threatens to get out of control, but he catches it just in time--"before it goes over the side" (NOT boils over) ie. escapes control. And it's in the "wrong place," a pan rather than a pot.
"…in the family homestead of his dead lover, the shirts they wore while cowboying together long before: shabby denim and weary cotton, wrapped in each other's arms." Like this. Always.

He either fears his fate too much
Or his deserts are small
Who dares not put it to the touch
To win or lose it all

Offline suelyblu

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Re: Symbolism & Imagery, II
« Reply #245 on: June 21, 2017, 04:12:32 PM »
                                                ^^^^
Wow!! Well spotted R&R. I think it's wonderful.....that even after all this time....we can still find new things to see/read about that could have meanings behind them that we never gave a second thought to .
"I  know that ghosts have wondered on the earth,
 Be with me always. Take any form. Drive me mad,
 only do not leave me in the dark alone, where I cannot
 find you.
 I cannot live without my life.
 I cannot die without my soul.
                                          .

Offline royandronnie

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Re: Symbolism & Imagery, II
« Reply #246 on: June 23, 2017, 11:40:36 AM »
I was also thinking about the pan being "swathed in blue flame." I started to suggest it echoed Jack's clothes and eyes, but of course that's the movie Jack. BUT, to me, "swathed" sounds very close to "swaddled," as in a baby, and blue--boy. Yeah, it's reaching! But--a boy makes Ennis warm?
"…in the family homestead of his dead lover, the shirts they wore while cowboying together long before: shabby denim and weary cotton, wrapped in each other's arms." Like this. Always.

He either fears his fate too much
Or his deserts are small
Who dares not put it to the touch
To win or lose it all

Offline Ministering angel

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Re: Symbolism & Imagery, II
« Reply #247 on: July 12, 2017, 05:31:17 PM »
Back in the day when we were doing a line-by-line analysis over on Planet Heath Ledger, there were a few ideas. These are what I've found so far.

From Jo


'-pours leftover coffee in a chipped enamel pan; the flame swathes it in blue-.''

I think Ennis is, in his own mind, in the past at that moment; he's not come full awake from the early-Jack dream he just had: He is pouring the leftover coffee-reliving and reveling in the memory and sense of pleasure Jack has brought him-coffee being a symbol of sustenance, or the love between them, on a daily basis on BBM-he has to have that morning coffee, and it is certainly a leftover from that old cold time. The pan is chipped-flawed, with it's underlayer revealed here and there; and it is enamel-it has a coating on it. Ennis is worn, chipped away, more revealed to himself; but he's developed a layer of protection-enamel. Jack, I'd guess. The flame is blue-the non-living Jack. The word, 'swathing' is a term almost exclusively used in blanketing an infant, or used very abstractly, otherwise. I think this is a hint of the dozy embrace sensation, of Jack's shirt surrounding Ennis-the shirts are still hung togther-'the shirts'. They are seen by Ennis as on entity-'the two skins as one.'

From Hugsuzie


shuffle, leftover, chipped all seem old and well used.

From me

Suzie, I like the leftover idea, that he rewarms the old cold time just as he rewarms the old coffee. He lives on the dregs of a life long gone. The pan he uses is chipped, and its metal is covered in enamel - the idea of Ennis as a sort of Tin Man seems to thread its way through the story, and I think the pan and the aluminium trailer are our introduction to the recurring theme of metal which will thread through the story. (It seems that the symbols which AP will use are all present in the prologue.) The blue flame is in contrast to the red spark on the mountain which Jack observed, Ennis as nightfire. Fire as a symbol of sexual attraction runs through the story also. The red fire attracts Jack, the campfire throws a sparkle in the arched stream of urine on the night their friendship takes a turn upwards (more on that when we get there!), the yellow fire warms them before the cold night which will prompt their first sexual encounter, when Ennis will withdraw his hand as if he'd touched fire, a hot jolt will scald Ennis at the reunion, and finally Jack will try to keep the fire going on their last night together.

But a blue flame, while looking colder, is actually hotter than a red one. (While various factors can make a difference, in general flame colour indicates heat - red, orange, yellow, white, blue being the range from cool to hot. So the flames we have described by colour are increasing in temperature through the story. How cool is that!) So the love is swathing the leftovers, warming them up just as the dream of Jack (love in another form) stokes his day, rewarms the old cold time. I'm repeating myself and probably others but I just love the images.

Offline BlueAmber63

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Re: Symbolism & Imagery, II
« Reply #248 on: July 12, 2017, 07:00:02 PM »
                                                      ^^

Love the way you "paint"pictures of a mood ... an occurrence....a situation with colors that the author uses to describe ordinary every day things. Giving the secret
meanings..... she meant to be found.

The word "swathing" when I first read it ...got me thinking of something or someone
being "covered" or "wrapped" into something warm. As you/Jo said "swaddled".