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Author Topic: The Dozy Embrace  (Read 5015 times)

Offline royandronnie

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Re: The Dozy Embrace
« Reply #60 on: June 13, 2016, 07:35:07 PM »
Agreed. We don't know when he started talking about bringing Ennis up one day. Would he have been saying it while Ennis was still married? Or only when it was becoming clear that Ennis was still holding out, in which case the "plan" as mentioned to his folks becomes more of wishful thinking (with a side helping of trying to "get it right" with his father).

I've always been taken by the fact that Ennis seems to be pretty much alone with Stoutamire by the end - if he isn't there to deal with the late-calving heifers the job will fall onto the boss. And yet he doesn't see anything odd in that. Maybe there was a Mrs Stoutamire. But if Jack had been able to make his proposal after the divorce there would have been the Twist parents.

Here I'm hobbled by not knowing all that much about how ranching works--but I'm not sure that Ennis and Stoutamire are alone on that ranch. As the owner of a cash crop, Stoutamire is obviously going to have a vested interest in the calves. Heifers are first-time mothers. Things go wrong--I know that from reading all the Herriott books! The owner is going to be there through every calving because it's a drawn-out and often difficult business, and very heavy physical work too if the cow needs help. There could be a couple other guys, but they need all of them--and likely Ennis is the oldest and most experienced by this point. So there doesn't have to be a "questionable situation" of the two men alone on a ranch.

I've always assumed (and written a story that treats it this way) that Jack started talking about Ennis after the Brokeback summer, just to talk about him. Almost certainly the "bring Ennis on up" stuff started with the Reunion--even though Ennis refused him then, which is a rather interesting thing to consider. Maybe he never stopped talking about it until the Final Argument, though I would imagine it was habit more than anything else after the divorce.
"…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 Darry

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Re: The Dozy Embrace
« Reply #61 on: June 17, 2016, 08:51:53 AM »
Am I right in thinking that it absolutely was aforementioned that this stunning memory was simply beat Jacks mind.....and that it ne'er extremely happened  He required this to be for real .For Ennis to merely provide him this achingly i moment.
« Last Edit: June 28, 2016, 12:20:48 PM by royandronnie »

Offline CANSTANDIT

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Re: The Dozy Embrace
« Reply #62 on: June 18, 2016, 07:06:26 AM »
I may be a bit of a romantic but I always feel that the DE was never marred for Jack. Yes, he realised at last that the promise held out in those precious minutes would never come to fruition but I feel that he still believed in what happened then.

I guess it all depends on what one concludes Jack was thinking. The essence seems to be that Jack understood there was more to Ennis's feelings than simple horseplay and sex. In the DE he understands that Ennis has real, deep feelings for Jack, that he can give Jack the things he needs - which are love and approval. So he spends the next twenty years waiting for those things and never getting them. But he's had that glimpse and he knows (or thinks he knows) Ennis has the ability to give them again. But when the final argument happens he finally understands that Ennis is incapable of giving them. Does that mean he then thinks the promise of the DE was a lie, or does he think that it was true but unobtainable, unrepeatable? I'm inclined to go for the latter, thus the DE can remain unmarred in some way.
I believe you and I will eternally disagree on this. I think the moment of realization mars it I've sadly come to conclude that though Jack doesn't quit Ennis in his heart he's finally really looked at bare bones DE and upon Ennis collapsing in the last fight realizes what the flaw really is: Ennis can't accept the truth.  As a result Jack decides to stop seeing him by replacing him. No love lost he just can't do it anymore. Once he feels they'd not got much farther he sees that they won't ever. That is something that
 Jack can't face, the loss of hope. He runs from that I think.  Hell love Ennis forever but hell choose a lifestyle he can tolerate.

Offline CANSTANDIT

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Re: The Dozy Embrace
« Reply #63 on: June 18, 2016, 07:13:59 AM »
Am I right in thinking that it absolutely was aforementioned that this stunning memory was simply beat Jacks mind.....and that it ne'er extremely happened ?  He required this to be for real .For Ennis to merely provide him this achingly i moment.

Suggested but not true.  The DE is revealed as the reason for Jacks hope for the future of the relationship 20 years earlier. Its just revealed in retrospect. We find out Ennis never even kissed him on BBM but the sexless affection of the DE made that irrelevant to Jack. He felt loved so he had hope.

Offline Desecra

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Re: The Dozy Embrace
« Reply #64 on: June 18, 2016, 01:14:13 PM »
There doesn't seem any point, story-wise, in it having not happened (i.e. being only in Jack's imagination).  I think it explains a lot of stuff we do know for sure - why Jack took the shirt, why he came back after four years (i.e. it was the one thing that really made it clear to Jack that there was love involved, rather than just a friend relieving sexual frustration) and why he felt he could propose the cow and calf operation.  It explains how it really did go after the FNIT, the significance of the kiss at the reunion.    I think it helps to explain how Jack sees the relationship and Ennis's inabiity to truly accept it, and explains why Jack was talking about the other one at the Twist ranch later.   I could go on ... there's so much seems to pivot on that memory.    It's put in at a crucial point (just after they last see each other, and the very last time we "see" Jack alive). 

I think it has a rather magical, dreamlike feel, but I think it was meant to have actually happened.
Unless, I say otherwise, I'm probably talking about the short story, not the movie. :)

Offline Ministering angel

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Re: The Dozy Embrace
« Reply #65 on: June 18, 2016, 06:28:54 PM »
Am I right in thinking that it absolutely was aforementioned that this stunning memory was simply beat Jacks mind.....and that it ne'er extremely happened ?  He required this to be for real .For Ennis to merely provide him this achingly i moment.
Hi, Darry, and welcome.

For a person who only watched the film, it could be possible to argue that the DE might be just wishful thinking on Jack's part. However, the short story makes it clear that it's a real memory, and Desecra has perfectly described all the reasons why we get to know about it and why it's held back so late in the story.

Some posters have queried whether Jack's recollection is 100% accurate or whether he's added layers of understanding and interpretation over the years. Memory does alter, as we know. From my own memory, I think the major reason that posters queried the DE's veracity was to do with Jack's opinion that Ennis would not then hold him face to face. Some people thought Jack was wrong about this. For my money, that's the killer moment in the whole passage, the moment when it becomes apparent exactly how the summer DID go, and why. It's the crux of the story for me. (I did once say that the story could be reduced to "Ennis ... got to his knees, ... hauled Jack onto all fours and ... entered him, ... because he did not want to see nor feel that it was Jack he held.")

I guess that if Annie Proulx had wanted it to be a false memory or a truly unreliable memory she wouldn't have written it in such unambiguous terms, but it's presented quite matter-of-factly, the only seeming alteration in the memory being "Later, that dozy embrace solidified in his memory as the single moment of artless, charmed happiness in their separate and difficult lives", but I'd argue that that only indicates the way Jack viewed the DE rather than an actual alteration of the details themselves.

I don't recall anyone arguing that the whole memory was false, but they might have done.

What's your opinion?

Offline Ministering angel

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Re: The Dozy Embrace
« Reply #66 on: June 18, 2016, 06:39:52 PM »
I believe you and I will eternally disagree on this. I think the moment of realization mars it I've sadly come to conclude that though Jack doesn't quit Ennis in his heart he's finally really looked at bare bones DE and upon Ennis collapsing in the last fight realizes what the flaw really is: Ennis can't accept the truth.  As a result Jack decides to stop seeing him by replacing him. No love lost he just can't do it anymore. Once he feels they'd not got much farther he sees that they won't ever. That is something that
 Jack can't face, the loss of hope. He runs from that I think.  Hell love Ennis forever but hell choose a lifestyle he can tolerate.
Yep. I'm the eternal optimist on this one. For me, Jack can't quit and yet he can't live, knowing the reality which the final argument reveals. I feel he clings to the truth of the DE (the good bit) while admitting the bad bit, and understanding what it means. But does he quit, as you are suggesting? For me, his last few weeks are spent in a maelstrom of emotions with no decisions possible. I think he's incapable of deciding to quit. It may well enter his mind (as his mention of the ranch neighbour would indicate) but I can't see him being emotionally stable enough to act on that. He's just one big puddle of pain.

Offline royandronnie

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Re: The Dozy Embrace
« Reply #67 on: June 18, 2016, 07:45:24 PM »
I agree with MA; while quite capable of taking action, on this subject, Jack forever rotates around Planet Ennis, caught in his inescapable gravitational hold. We know he's a bitcher--so threatening the non-present Ennis lets off the steam and frustration while not amounting to anything.

I wonder if he did mean to quit, but his death intervened. You could argue that the fact that the postcard is returned to Ennis means Jack wasn't coming if he had lived. The dead hand of Jack rejecting him? But that's not consistent with the Jack we know, the angel in the columbine who as late as the Final Argument forgot his fury instantly when Ennis collapsed.

We know nothing about the neighbor in the story beyond the seeming fact of his existence: we argue whether Ennis' waitress existed; perhaps Jack only fantasized about the neighbor. I think there was a real affair, but we don't know if the other man would have left either.

I do think it's important to remember that this "other fella" conversation took place right after the Final Argument, when Jack was at his lowest. He'd had a drive of hundreds of miles alone to whet his anger to a fine edge. He didn't quit after the divorce. I don't think he really quit here either.
"…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 Desecra

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Re: The Dozy Embrace
« Reply #68 on: June 19, 2016, 02:23:25 AM »
I feel that the ranch neighbour did exist - it doesn't ring true for me that he would make up this guy.    And I think it highlights the fact that there were other guys out there who might have come up.    If Jack hadn't fallen for Ennis all those years ago, he might have been able to have a life with somebody else.    That's one of the things that Ennis has to live with, I think, that he kept Jack in that state of limbo for twenty years, going through the motions and living for those few days a year, with a dwindling hope that could never be fulfilled.   And, of course, I think that the talk of the other guy coming up, tells Ennis that Jack had lost that hope after the last meeting. 
Unless, I say otherwise, I'm probably talking about the short story, not the movie. :)

Offline royandronnie

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Re: The Dozy Embrace
« Reply #69 on: June 19, 2016, 12:28:10 PM »
I think that's really the most important thing we can get from the "other fella" mention, Des: it's not about whether Jack did or didn't quit: Ennis learns that he had given up emotionally. You know, I never really looked at it quite that way. Of course, Dad Twist meant to punish Ennis with that comment, but the thing is, Ennis needs to know just what a shit he had been. They "torqued things back." That implies it was working for Jack, too. But he still despaired. Would he have left? We'll never know. But Ennis knows, however Jack died, that the "boys like you," etc shattered him. So much that he was at least thinking about giving up. And that alone would punish Ennis as he deserved to be punished, and make him understand what he had done--and it couldn't ever be fixed, or even forgiven.
"…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 Rosestem

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Re: The Dozy Embrace
« Reply #70 on: June 24, 2016, 10:33:22 PM »
So much Ennis-blaming here! It takes two, is all I'm saying. Any doomed or unsatisfactory relationship that goes on for 20 years has two people holding it up. The idea that Ennis "killed" Jack or needed to be "punished" is illogical to me.
Ennis loves Jack, but can't see a way for them to be together at lower altitudes. Jack loves him, but can't see that they never will be together.
Ennis does not do the archetypal cheating husband/reticent bachelor/divorcee thing of promising "someday." He promises they will continue to meet. When Jack mentions how much he misses Ennis when they're apart, he can't even admit he misses Jack back.
I can see why Jack clings to the DE memory, and I can also see why they both keep getting together while their lives apart are disintegrating. However, the way I look at it, it's no fault, no blame.

Offline Desecra

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Re: The Dozy Embrace
« Reply #71 on: June 25, 2016, 04:21:50 AM »
Oh, I don't think Ennis needs to be "punished".  I think he is written in a way that we can have a huge amount of sympathy for him and understand why he is as he is and does the things he does.  But I personally think, in terms of the story, that he needs to learn something at the end.    There's so much withheld information in the story (even though we seem to follow Ennis through it, he withholds information from us), and then a whole load of the information that makes sense of Brokeback and their whole relationship comes towards the end.    Ennis doesn't get the DE thoughts, but I think the "scene" at the Twist ranch, including the ranch neighbour and the shirts give him some of that information - that Jack loved him from the start, that Jack eventually lost hope, that they were meant to be together, that he couldn't accept Jack and Jack knew that and so on. 
Unless, I say otherwise, I'm probably talking about the short story, not the movie. :)

Offline Rosestem

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Re: The Dozy Embrace
« Reply #72 on: June 27, 2016, 09:24:11 AM »
Ennis doesn't get the DE thoughts, but I think the "scene" at the Twist ranch, including the ranch neighbour and the shirts give him some of that information - that Jack loved him from the start, that Jack eventually lost hope, that they were meant to be together, that he couldn't accept Jack and Jack knew that and so on.

I agree totally, Desecra, and I would go as far as to say that he realizes that he loved Jack from the start, that they were indeed meant to be together, that he couldn't accept himself. I get that from Ennis hanging the shirts in his trailer and seeing them every day, and once in a while thinking or saying, "Jack, I swear." He has definitely learned something.





Offline Ministering angel

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Re: The Dozy Embrace
« Reply #73 on: June 27, 2016, 09:21:19 PM »
Rosestem, your post reminded me of one of my very early posts written over ten years ago. It's HERE, if you're interested. I probably would write it differently these days although the sentiment would be the same.

You are right about Ennis not breaking promises, etc. Essentially, he was created as a character with an unresolvable childhood trauma (as was Jack, just a different trauma) and within the boundaries of his ability he did what he was capable of to be with Jack. But I still think that the conversation in the motel was sufficiently vague as to hold out hope to Jack - I should a never let you outta my sights, etc. - and Jack was always hopeful that it would come right in the end. That's what the DE is about - telling us just why Jack held on for so long. Jack knew (or believed) the love was possible, that in time it would be revealed, hence his return year after year. The bathroom scene then explains why Jack was so needy and so unable to assert himself.

But Ennis's childhood trauma (which left him with something akin to PTSD, IMHO) blinded him to the reality of his situation. It required the shock of Jack's death and the discovery of the shirts for the pieces to finally fit.

In loftier moments I've thought of the story as being about a single soul torn in two by childhood trauma, and the two halves are trying to reunite. It's the image of the broken mountain. Eventually, Ennis reclaims the "Jack" part of himself and becomes whole again. I think that earlier post I linked to was my first attempt at that idea.

FWIW.

Offline Rosestem

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Re: The Dozy Embrace
« Reply #74 on: June 28, 2016, 01:02:48 PM »
... about a single soul torn in two by childhood trauma, and the two halves are trying to reunite ...

Indeed. I love your 10-year-old post too.