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BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN => Elements & Themes => Topic started by: Sandy on January 15, 2008, 09:45:43 AM

Title: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Sandy 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.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Desecra 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?
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT 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. :)

Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: janjo 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!

Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT 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.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Sandy 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.  :)
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Rosewood 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.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT 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.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT 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?
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Rosewood 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. ;)

Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT 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.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Ministering angel 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. (http://brokebackkiss.livejournal.com)
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: janjo 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!
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT 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
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: janjo 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.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on January 15, 2008, 05:16:51 PM
Chill out, Jess....let's not start a war.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Ministering angel on January 15, 2008, 05:23:42 PM
Back to the last afternoon: I thnk it works better if they already know they are finishing up for the summer. That introduces the quality of desperation. Just a practical thought - the sheep are more than an hour's ride away, so on the last day they have to break camp. ride off for more than an hour (with mules? Either they take everything with them up to the sheep, or they leave stuff in camp and trek another hour plus back to get them), gather up 1000 ewes and their lambs, get them down the mountain, get them counted, get something to eat in Dubois, get paid out and have their final conversation.

That lot takes a lot of time. I'm inclined to think the word came through, they have a last whatever, the fight happens, Ennis heads up to the sheep for the night, and the whole caravan comes down the next day. Maybe Jack packs while Ennis and the dogs bring them down. FWIW
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on January 15, 2008, 05:28:38 PM
I kind of thought that too, about the time it would take to haul their butts down the mountain......I am intrigued at the thought of them almost getting caught in flagrant delecto, if indeed, Aguirre sent one of his thugs up to tell them to bring em down.

But..I still feel cozier thinking he met the guy at the bridge, and instead of supplies, got told to come down. I think there is too much angst implied in that last coupling-or near coupling-for them not to be on edge over the impending parting. Just a sense I have. I don't know if it is noteworthy, that it is the afternoon that they are going at it, either. AS R&R says,' if they were doing it six times a day', etc.  ;D


and for anyone needing a break from the heavy discussions, let me invite you to the Heath Planet thread, where there has been posted on the last few pages a series of simply gorgeous BBM, J&E love shots.....
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Ministering angel on January 15, 2008, 05:43:03 PM
Yes, I feel they HAVE to be aware that it's all over. Otherwise, as I think Des said, it's too much of a coincidence that they fight. And it would completely destroy any argument that it was all about Ennis's swirling confusion a la the film, that many here have supported.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Sandy on January 15, 2008, 05:59:28 PM
Jo,

My point, I guess, is to ask a question, then a follow-up question. Is everything relevant to our understanding of the story of BBM? The answer would have to be yes. The follow-up question would then be, Is everything equally reveleant to the story of BBM. And there I would have to say no. Gene Shallit's interpretation of Jack as a sexual predator probably struck him as relevant at the time, but I believe that interpretation is one that will not hold up under scrutiny. I don't believe, and I don't think anyone here believes, that all opinions/readings of the story are equally valid, at least not from the way we argue over them.  :) So at some point or other, over the course of discussion, we have to consider what we will keep and what we will reject.

Another point of my post is that the further we leave behind the core of the story to fret over the more minute details, the less return we are likely to get on the intellectual capital we're investing in the analysis/discussion of the story. Nothing inherently wrong with this, because that can lead off to new topics altogether, some that have very little to do with BBM. IMO, of course.

Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on January 15, 2008, 08:16:34 PM
I don't take strong exception to your points, Sandy.....But I think it's been illustrated that some things don't produce concensus, ergo, they bring further discussion. It is not relevant in this setting who thinks which is more valuable, except to each individual, ie, this point or that. We are not all coming from the same place, nor are we doing a project that requires we come to concensus.

One thing I'll say is I doubt we ever lose sight of the core of this story-assuming we all have at least one or two touchstones upon which we agree, ie, that there is damaging homophbobia in Ennis's background; and that Jack and Ennis loved each other.  :)

I think its possible the rest may well be fodder, but its interesting fodder, and I think its a worthy exercise. My opinion.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on January 15, 2008, 08:25:49 PM
Yes, I feel they HAVE to be aware that it's all over. Otherwise, as I think Des said, it's too much of a coincidence that they fight. And it would completely destroy any argument that it was all about Ennis's swirling confusion a la the film, that many here have supported.

So you mean, the idea that he punches Jack because he is upset and displaces his pain, rather than targeting Jack for the sudden terror of being q produced by the Earl connection? yes, I see how someone would think that.....but either way, if he gets a knee to the nose, he'll make that association. But what is more telltale, is what brings that knee to that nose, ie, what is going on that suddenly they are uncoordinated-either they are stressed out, or something new is happening between them-maybe both.
Again, I think Ennis remembering it as the last afternoon, is because it is part of his knowledge AT THE TIME it happened, so he is recalling it. And I really think we would not be told anything that was not accurate, when the story is using that memory to produce a moment of truth. For example, he might think it was the last afternoon, only they had no idea at the time...you'd get told that, perhaps, because it would have been a traumatic surprise, after, instead of before.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: royandronnie on January 15, 2008, 08:32:23 PM
I would say after careful thought that the reason we keep picking and picking and picking at certain points of the story is that if we rake over those coals long enough we will find an interpretation, a way of phrasing, that will make those who disagree say "Oh! I never thought about it that way! You could at least be right." I do that, I know; I don't presume to speak for everyone, but I think that's likely. It is also interesting intellectually--can we convince ourselves that we are undeniably right? Not always. But we keep looking for the shining moment of surety.

As CSI says, there are only a few basic truths in the story that no one will argue. I would add two to her list: Jack dies, and the finding of the Shirts is a revelation for Ennis.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on January 15, 2008, 08:44:19 PM
ooh, lets make a list..I love lists!!  :D :D :D
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Ministering angel on January 15, 2008, 10:05:45 PM
I see no problem in people discussing topics ad nauseum. This is self-regulating in a way. If someone posts something and no-one takes it up, it tends to fade away, maybe to be revived later when the moon is in a different house or whatever.

So long as we have moderators to ensure we stay within the rules of the forum then the topics discussed pretty much take care of themselves. I don't think we need to decide which are the most relevant or which are core points or anything else. Everything is a potential discussion point, and individuals have their own reasons to pursue certain lines.

However, querying or impugning a poster's or group of posters' motives or needs to discuss something is off-topic, in my opinion, and not within the spirit of these particular threads. I may choose to put in a note of self-explanation here and there, and I certainly always welcome the personal insights that others have provided, but it is not my right to question someone else on why they feel the way they feel, except as that question applies to their literary interpretation.

I hope this makes sense. The forum ate my previous and better worded post. Such is life.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: royandronnie on January 15, 2008, 10:09:55 PM
1. There is damaging homophobia in Ennis' background.
2. Ennis and Jack loved each other.
3. Jack dies.
4. Finding the Shirts is a revelation for Ennis.
5. The DE was the emotional high point of their relationship.
6. Ennis comes to an acceptance of his love for Jack after Jack dies.
7. Ennis comes to an acceptance of his homosexuality after Jack dies.
8. Jack accepted his own sexuality.
9. Ennis spent their entire relationship in denial.
10. Jack's combination of boldness, courage, and love enabled him to start, restart, and hang on to their relationship in the face of huge odds.

This could get really trivial, of course. And there are other points. I'm trying to keep it serious, so I'll stop before I get to Alma or Aguirre.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Desecra on January 16, 2008, 12:07:59 AM
I think it's interesting that the topics which there seem to be most objection too (i.e. should this be discussed at all) are often the topics which generate the most discussion!  :D
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Desecra on January 16, 2008, 12:10:51 AM
1. There is damaging homophobia in Ennis' background.
2. Ennis and Jack loved each other.
3. Jack dies.
4. Finding the Shirts is a revelation for Ennis.
5. The DE was the emotional high point of their relationship.
6. Ennis comes to an acceptance of his love for Jack after Jack dies.
7. Ennis comes to an acceptance of his homosexuality after Jack dies.
8. Jack accepted his own sexuality.
9. Ennis spent their entire relationship in denial.
10. Jack's combination of boldness, courage, and love enabled him to start, restart, and hang on to their relationship in the face of huge odds.

This could get really trivial, of course. And there are other points. I'm trying to keep it serious, so I'll stop before I get to Alma or Aguirre.

This is really interesting because I'm thinking this is a summary of the points that we all do agree on, and yet I have some quibbles with some of them.    Not huge disagreement, but just some 'buts'.    Thanks for doing that list.   It's getting me thinking.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Desecra on January 16, 2008, 12:19:58 AM
The 'last afternoon'.

MA, you said it would take a while to get the sheep - I think meaning that the message couldn't have come after the punch on the last afternoon because there wouldn't be time.   But it could - the message could have come later that day to bring them down the next day, or it could have come the next morning.  (I'm not sure if the mention of the punch on the 'last day' when they're saying goodbye implies that it wasn't the same day). 

CSI, you say you think that message must have been passed at the bridge.   But Ennis (or Jack - we don't know if they switched that role - or do we?  Ennis kept the watch, so I suppose they didn't) only went to the bridge once a week, at noon on Friday.    It's implied that the sheep needed to be brought down quickly - would Aguiirre have waited up to a week for that meeting, or would he just have ridden up (as he did when Uncle Harold was ill) or sent someone up with the message?
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Desecra on January 16, 2008, 01:13:45 AM
Just a general comment on the 'restrictions'.   I've pointed out before that the things we are initially told are ambiguous enough, that we could see them as pointless - that we're just being told about the normal expression of sex between men that age.   But for those who think that that's all they mean, why do you think we are told them?   As I mentioned about other sex (e.g. Jack and Lureen), if there's nothing we need to know about it, we're not told.    So why do you think it's so important that we must know exactly what they did in the FNIT, that they didn't talk about it at all, that they didn't say a word during sex, that it was all quick and rough, etc.     Because what I see is people saying that it could be that way for men that age, but not really explaining why they think we're given that precise detail.   

I also disagree that all quick and rough, etc. is the norm for men this age.   I most of us will at some point (even if it was a while ago) have had lovers that age, or inexperienced lovers - given time (which Jack and Ennis) and lack of inhibitions, they are usually eager and keen to explore.   Maybe personal experience affects your view on this a lot, and maybe I've just been lucky.   But if they're limiting themselves to quick and rough sex, and we know that time and privacy aren't an issue, I think we're left with the lack of inhibitions - they are inhibited.   Now that might be normal in the circumstances - I'm not saying it's not - of two men from that homophobic background who need to prove they are straight, macho men while having sex.    I'm not saying that what they do is particularly weird, because if it was, we wouldn't have accepted it on first reading of the Brokeback time - it's normal enough.   It's also normal enough for Jack to believe that there's the potential of more.   But it's still a restriction - they're inhibited by their need to be masculine and appear straight. 
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Desecra on January 16, 2008, 01:18:44 AM
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?

Lots - just have a browse round livejournal or similar ;).   But that point is not that they don't have hearts to hearts and dissect the relationship, or that they don't talk much during sex, but they don't talk at all about the relationship - they don't even acknowledge that they're having sex at all, verbally AND they don't talk at all during sex - not a goddamn word, except for Ennis's warning and Jack jumping in. 

I'm not sure whether to answer your other points - I have a feeling you're trying to wind me up ;).
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Ministering angel on January 16, 2008, 02:43:24 AM
The 'last afternoon'.

MA, you said it would take a while to get the sheep - I think meaning that the message couldn't have come after the punch on the last afternoon because there wouldn't be time.   But it could - the message could have come later that day to bring them down the next day, or it could have come the next morning.  (I'm not sure if the mention of the punch on the 'last day' when they're saying goodbye implies that it wasn't the same day). 


No, I was just throwing that into the mix. I don't know that we truly know which came first, the fight or the instruction, but my instinct tells me the instruction to bring down the sheep came first. It just feels right.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Ministering angel on January 16, 2008, 02:54:07 AM
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?


If it's so common for 19yo boys to say little of any sense about or during sex, then why would AP bother to tell us? As has been pointed out, she doesn't tell us about, for example, the sex life of Jack and Lureen; we can deduce that it was unremarkably ordinary, or at least that it did not impinge on the story of Jack and Ennis. Instead she specifically makes the point about the lack of talking, and that lack of talking raises its head throughout the story. Jack wants to talk, Ennis doesn't talk, until at last the years of things unsaid and now unsayable rise up around them. The point is made - they did not talk about the things that mattered, and this began with FNIT. It's a consistent theme, which is why I find it strange that this one occasion in FNIT should be queried. When they were 39 years old, they should surely have been able to talk to each other? But they don't. That silence was imposed back on Brokeback. It was one of Ennis's restrictions. (I don't suppose Jack was keen on silence, even if he wasn't good at heart to hearts.)

So some things were are told directly (and we ignore them at out peril, unless, of course, we feel that they are of no consequence  ;) ) and other things are hinted at, and a whole bunch of stuff isn't mentioned at all in any way, either directly or indirectly. It's only with this last bunch that I feel I am free to make whatever deductions seem reasonable. With the others I try to understand the author's intentions.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Ministering angel on January 16, 2008, 03:08:56 AM



Ooops! Is this a list of things we are in agreement on? Ummmm.......My responses in bold.

1. There is damaging homophobia in Ennis' background.   yes
2. Ennis and Jack loved each other.      yes
3. Jack dies.    apparently  :D
4. Finding the Shirts is a revelation for Ennis.   yes
5. The DE was the emotional high point of their relationship.   While I agree in a simple way, I think it's more complex than this statement. It's Jack's POV we get and we never know how Ennis felt with any clarity. They led separate and difficult lives but do we know this was Ennis's high point? I think AP is getting the point across that they BOTH experienced difficulties while apart, but she doesn't exactly say the DE was Ennis's high point. He wasn't into the emotional side - not consciously anyway, so it wouldn't have meant as much to him. I suspect those magic hours in the motel might have been more like it, or the summer of sex before the downfall.
6. Ennis comes to an acceptance of his love for Jack after Jack dies. Sort of
7. Ennis comes to an acceptance of his homosexuality after Jack dies. No. I don't think we are told this at all.
8. Jack accepted his own sexuality. yes
9. Ennis spent their entire relationship in denial. yes
10. Jack's combination of boldness, courage, and love enabled him to start, restart, and hang on to their relationship in the face of huge odds. Yes, but his ingrained need to "get it right" also played a huge part. He might have had more realistic expectations if he hadn't been driven by that urge.

This could get really trivial, of course. And there are other points. I'm trying to keep it serious, so I'll stop before I get to Alma or Aguirre.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on January 16, 2008, 06:03:37 AM
1. There is damaging homophobia in Ennis' background.
2. Ennis and Jack loved each other.
3. Jack dies.
4. Finding the Shirts is a revelation for Ennis.
5. The DE was the emotional high point of their relationship.
6. Ennis comes to an acceptance of his love for Jack after Jack dies.
7. Ennis comes to an acceptance of his homosexuality after Jack dies.
8. Jack accepted his own sexuality.
9. Ennis spent their entire relationship in denial.
10. Jack's combination of boldness, courage, and love enabled him to start, restart, and hang on to their relationship in the face of huge odds.

This could get really trivial, of course. And there are other points. I'm trying to keep it serious, so I'll stop before I get to Alma or Aguirre.
Bolded is VERY intriguing...... ;D
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on January 16, 2008, 06:08:36 AM
The 'last afternoon'.

MA, you said it would take a while to get the sheep - I think meaning that the message couldn't have come after the punch on the last afternoon because there wouldn't be time.   But it could - the message could have come later that day to bring them down the next day, or it could have come the next morning.  (I'm not sure if the mention of the punch on the 'last day' when they're saying goodbye implies that it wasn't the same day). 

CSI, you say you think that message must have been passed at the bridge.   But Ennis (or Jack - we don't know if they switched that role - or do we?  Ennis kept the watch, so I suppose they didn't) only went to the bridge once a week, at noon on Friday.    It's implied that the sheep needed to be brought down quickly - would Aguiirre have waited up to a week for that meeting, or would he just have ridden up (as he did when Uncle Harold was ill) or sent someone up with the message?
I don't know, really.....I just think its the totality of what I see as the 'evidence' leaning towards them knowing about the come-down prior to the punch. Do you see a smoking gun that leads you to thinking it happened before? I am guessing at this point, we are all wading thru perceived ambiguity...I just never saw it as ambiguous, but I'd be THRILLED to have someone point something out that more or less shows it. I've learned things are seldom as they seem in AP's little story.....
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on January 16, 2008, 06:11:04 AM
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?

Lots - just have a browse round livejournal or similar ;).   But that point is not that they don't have hearts to hearts and dissect the relationship, or that they don't talk much during sex, but they don't talk at all about the relationship - they don't even acknowledge that they're having sex at all, verbally AND they don't talk at all during sex - not a goddamn word, except for Ennis's warning and Jack jumping in. 

I'm not sure whether to answer your other points - I have a feeling you're trying to wind me up ;).
Actually, it may be a good point, that 19 year- old boys might be more about the action, and not spending time defining things....but the major impact of this is in the contrast with the Reunion; there is some catalyst that turns Ennis into a verbally gushing lover, that he could not be on BBM-that is the sticking point.

That catalyst is knowledge he did not have on BBM-and he tells this to Jack-and of course, Jack's actual presence is monumental (. Incidentally, if he can't be believed, that may have nothing to do with AP's writing and a lot do with individual interpretation.)
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: janjo on January 16, 2008, 06:12:28 AM
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?

Lots - just have a browse round livejournal or similar ;).   But that point is not that they don't have hearts to hearts and dissect the relationship, or that they don't talk much during sex, but they don't talk at all about the relationship - they don't even acknowledge that they're having sex at all, verbally AND they don't talk at all during sex - not a goddamn word, except for Ennis's warning and Jack jumping in. 

I'm not sure whether to answer your other points - I have a feeling you're trying to wind me up ;).

I'm sorry if anyone thinks I am trying to start a war, or to wind anyone up, because I wasn't and what I said was from the heart.
I seriously do worry as to what the point is about continually trying to prove that these "restrictions" were in place.
When we gently and discursively consider things we do often arrive at valuable new insights, when we each of us try to prove that our theories are "right" then all we do is to ruffle feathers amongst people who should be, and usually are friends of ours.
The restrictions theory does not IMO improve the book, and is not altogether relevant to the film.
In the general thrust of the plot it does nothing but seem a little unlikely.
When we argue we are not really adding to the sum of human knowledge on the subject of Brokeback Mountain, what we are trying to do is to prove that our theory, and our theory alone, is the correct one.
Brokeback Mountain with its many ambiguities is not really susceptible to this approach.
None of us will ever know conclusively who is right, so why must we be so vehement about it.
I agree so much with Rosewood, that "parsing" every word is not helping here.
The sense, the main thrust of the story is being lost under a multitude of falacious meanings.

With relation to my comment about nineteen year old boys, I can only say I work in a building with several thousnad of them most days and I have never seen any really profound vocalisations of deep thoughts on the subject of love!
They do grunt from time to time though. ::) ::) ::)
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on January 16, 2008, 06:25:36 AM
I think you also mentioned, J, that your boys  expressed some fear over being approached sexually by other 18 or 19 year old boys, right,  a while back? I took that as good evidence of the fears Ennis would have on BBM. it would be natural for him to do so, even if not in the presence of others....See, that whole set -up of being alone, no one round, in a small, private tent-things SHOULD have been more loosey-goosey between them, insofar as expressing affection, you'd think. Ennis should have felt free to do any kind of foreplay Jack wanted, prior to FNIT-it is simply not acceptable in civilized society to slam thru the foreplay and jump someone's bones whom you have feelings for; he had now way to be sure Jack wanted it that way-he just did it. It took Jack being butted up against him the next morning, while he was sober, to know for sure how Jack felt-without words. Not counting the spontaneous, 'gun's goin off', of course....The very fact that Ennis does some of what he does, while NO ONE is around to judge, speaks volumes to me. He has brought DRH up the mountain with him, so when the sheep get mixed, ie, the straight and gay conflict within him starts to head towards the surface,-do you agree that 'sheep' is an metaphor for obedient straight society? maybe you don't- he goes into another phase, that seems to climax with the punch-how convenient that AP has Aguirre bring them down early. Lord knows how much further they may have been able to get, had they another month together-perhaps a question she chose not to ask.


off to work, I look forward to your comments.

Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: janjo on January 16, 2008, 06:36:11 AM
Fear, teasing, homophobia, but not the sort of serious discussion of emotions that teenage girls never stop talking about. Boys take action and show their feelings physically, girls can chat about "Well he gave me this look," for HOURS.
Boys just don't do that.
The way Jack and Ennis are with each other in the film, never really saying what they are feeling is a perfect evocation of that.
That, I think is what we are told in the book. 
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Ministering angel on January 16, 2008, 06:39:27 AM
But that, as you'd be aware, is a gross exaggeration. Teenage girls can be pretty reticent to talk. It's just that we hear the ones that do talk. Once again I ask, if it's so common why bother telling us that they didn't say anything? Why emphasise that fact. We know they are horny 19 yo males. We can deduce that they wouldn't be spouting sonnets or discussing the importance of a set of matching dishes. We don't need to be told they don't talk - but we ARE told. Why?
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on January 16, 2008, 08:31:35 AM
Fear, teasing, homophobia, but not the sort of serious discussion of emotions that teenage girls never stop talking about. Boys take action and show their feelings physically, girls can chat about "Well he gave me this look," for HOURS.
Boys just don't do that.
The way Jack and Ennis are with each other in the film, never really saying what they are feeling is a perfect evocation of that.
That, I think is what we are told in the book. 
I guess we've never considered what kind of talk we'd expect them to induge in, so fair enough. I think what gets me about that narrative is the utter lack of non-verbal communciation, not even a simple, 'oh, yeah' at the right moment-there is no acknowledgement, beyond, 'gun's goin off' from Jack, that it feels GOOD. I think Ennis is afraid to admit that...maybe that is what AP is saying. I mean they laugh, and snort, and wrestle-that is very typical of teen-agers, of course, who are -wrestling, playing. It is NOT typical for it to lead to s-e-x all the time, unless, of course, the two boys in question are willing.

So I think what' s interesting is how this kind of wrestling is different from the play kind of wrestling-it seems Ennis does not WANT to differentiate it-so he never open his mouth, to reveal anything that might indicate to Jack that it may be something else-cuz if he did, I think there'd be a confrontation much earlier-assuming Ennis is indeed loaded with DRH, and can't accept these erotic feelings for Jack. He accepts his desires-just not that they are for Jack. I find SNIT very moving in that way-its made clear that there is a specific object of affection-not just general horniness.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: janjo on January 16, 2008, 09:38:23 AM
But that, as you'd be aware, is a gross exaggeration. Teenage girls can be pretty reticent to talk. It's just that we hear the ones that do talk. Once again I ask, if it's so common why bother telling us that they didn't say anything? Why emphasise that fact. We know they are horny 19 yo males. We can deduce that they wouldn't be spouting sonnets or discussing the importance of a set of matching dishes. We don't need to be told they don't talk - but we ARE told. Why?

No actually I really don't think it is. Teenage girls can talk about nothing for hours. Really, it just pours out. the emotionally damaged ones are often the worst too.
Of course no generalisation applies to everyone.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Desecra on January 16, 2008, 10:14:08 AM
I know I'm repeating myself a little but I think it needs to be made clear that we're not talking about degrees of conversation, but no conversation at all.   Not a goddamn word.   A point is being made strongly - why?  Why would the writer include the words just to tell us nothing of any consequence?   If we thought 19 year olds didn't talk, then we wouldn't need to be told. 

A very small point - although we call them 'boys' and 'teenagers' they were 19, not 16 or 14.   They were adults.   They'd both left home, and both had adult jobs and were supporting themselves (just).   Ennis got married and had a family shortly after they came down - no doubt some of his contemporaries would already have been married with kids while he was up on Brokeback.   They weren't chlidren, and were a bit too old and experienced in life to act like sulky monogsyllabic teenagers.   (And they don't.    We see that before the FNIT - you can't shut them up). 

We also wouldn't expect them to talk in exactly the same way as they'd talk to acquaintences, or superiors, etc.   They are very close friends, and they are eventually lovers.   They're in a relatively private place with lots of time on their hands.   We know that they talk and talk with each other given the chance.    So it's not as if they normally wouldn't talk.    It's that they won't talk about this one thing - the sex and all that entails.   And they shut up while they're doing this one thing. 
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: janjo on January 16, 2008, 10:29:22 AM
Boys are about three years behind girls in this though. Fifteen year old girls are horrible. Eighteen / nineteen year old boys can still be pretty immature and monosyllabic.
They will talk about how their motor bike etc is running, but they do not discuss feelings, especially forbidden ones. Of course some men are like this for their whole lives.
Just saying,,,,,,,
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Desecra on January 16, 2008, 10:31:27 AM
Another minor point - I think that we would expect some restrictions.    That would be normal, I think - for Ennis, at least, it's his first experience with a man, they've both grown up in that homophobic society - even before we know the whole story, you would expect some doubt, some hesitiation, some awkwardness, some self-examination even.   And you might well expect some restrictions on what they did -  - for instance, they might not do things that were overly romantic or 'feminine'.    In fact the idea that, given their backgrounds, there were absolutely no restrictions at all on what they did seems less likely than the idea that there were some restrictions.

But in the end, we do know there were some restrictions, however much we disagree over the details.     I can't agree that 19 year olds wouldn't talk about sex - quite the opposite in my experience - they're usually obsessed with it!  But whatever other 19 year olds do (and I'd suggest that 19 year olds who will have a sexual relationship without ever acknowledging it verbally are showing some sort of repression or restriction, like Ennis) we're still being told that these two didn't - that that restriction was there - that Brokeback did not give them free rein to do whatever they liked.   
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Desecra on January 16, 2008, 10:36:10 AM
Boys are about three years behind girls in this though. Fifteen year old girls are horrible. Eighteen / nineteen year old boys can still be pretty immature and monosyllabic.
They will talk about how their motor bike etc is running, but they do not discuss feelings, especially forbidden ones. Of course some men are like this for their whole lives.
Just saying,,,,,,,

But the story doesn't say that Jack and Ennis don't discuss feelings.   Quite the opposite - they do discuss feelings, in a male sort of way.   They imagine what it must have been like for the crew of the Thresher, they talk about their dogs, Jack talks about his relationship with his father.   They talk, talk, talk.   The one thing they absolutely don't talk about is sex, not even a little bit, not a goddamn word.   

So we're not being told that they can't hold a conversation with each other and that's why they can't talk about the sex much.   We're told that they talk very well together, but they don't mention sex at all. 
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: janjo on January 16, 2008, 11:43:54 AM
Boys are about three years behind girls in this though. Fifteen year old girls are horrible. Eighteen / nineteen year old boys can still be pretty immature and monosyllabic.
They will talk about how their motor bike etc is running, but they do not discuss feelings, especially forbidden ones. Of course some men are like this for their whole lives.
Just saying,,,,,,,

But the story doesn't say that Jack and Ennis don't discuss feelings.   Quite the opposite - they do discuss feelings, in a male sort of way.   They imagine what it must have been like for the crew of the Thresher, they talk about their dogs, Jack talks about his relationship with his father.   They talk, talk, talk.   The one thing they absolutely don't talk about is sex, not even a little bit, not a goddamn word.   

So we're not being told that they can't hold a conversation with each other and that's why they can't talk about the sex much.   We're told that they talk very well together, but they don't mention sex at all. 

I don't disagree with you at all. They can discuss everything except the "elephant in the room" and to me with boys that age that is really quite normal.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Desecra on January 16, 2008, 12:19:07 PM
I know you believe that, but why do you think we're told it?   There are two points I'm trying to make:

- we're told about it, so we must need to know it.   It's part of the plot.   If we're just being shown what 19 year olds do, it's of no consequence.   Why are we being shown something that's of no consequence?

- and no matter how common it is for 19 year olds not to be able to mention sex, we're being told that these two didn't.  It's a restriction.   Which kind of puts paid to the idea that they could do absolutely anything on Brokeback because it was an idyll.   One thing that they didn't do was talk about the sex, whether you believe that was because of their age or their homophobia.    (There are other things they didn't do as well, but that's one obvious one).
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: garyd on January 16, 2008, 12:27:03 PM
One of the elements of the story that I found, immediately upon reading, was the masterful way in which AP relates the story of the boys on the mountain.
It all seemed so natural and entirely in character for the people she is writing about.
She does a great job of indicating that they became close friends before they became sexually involved.
They talked about all sorts of things,(Ennis, perhaps for the first time in his life).
They discovered a "friend,where none was expected".
They actually listened to one another and "respected' the thoughts and opinions of one another.

That they didn't talk about the sex seems perfectly natural to me. "I ain't queer. Me neither. Nobody's business but our own". How perfect!  Awkward, slightly embarrassed, baffled for sure, and of course, to the reader, the first hint that these two are dangerously in denial.
AP, of course, is just as frustrated as we.  The comment, "not one god damned word" is certainly an editorial comment from the author.  "Geez", she seems to be saying, "if they had only had the skills, the guts, the SOMETHING, to discuss the situation honestly, perhaps, despite all the odds against them, they might have been able to work something out". 
One of the tragic elements is that neither of them really were "equipped" to discuss the relationship and when they finally did, four years later in the motel, Ennis had already rationalized and "compartmentalized" it with his ethos of "if you can't fix it..." 
And so it went, this is how Ennis tried to survive.

Jack, on the other hand was in total frustration and we only learn, much later in the story, how he coped (besides "not rolling his own", 'Mexico" and "finding ways to spend his money on buying trips) ...the DE, that one   moment of "perceived"  'artless, sexless"  no artifice, no bull shit, god I love being with you, me too, vapor of a memory. 

Stunning writing, indeed.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Desecra on January 16, 2008, 12:56:00 PM
First hint of their denial, indeed.    I agree about the slow revealing of Jack's frustration, and about it being 'too late' by the time they were able to talk about the sex (and therefore the relationship) - yes, Ennis did all the working through of it on his own and presented a 'fait accompli'.   They never did get the chance to really talk about it together.   The next time they ever get close to talking about is it 16 years later.     So I suppose the not talking about on the mountain is a heavy hint of what's to come. 
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: garyd on January 16, 2008, 01:09:24 PM
Yes, I think so.
And, 16 or so years later, when it surfaced again, Ennis by that point had stuffed(to use a pop psych term) so many feeling, hurts, desires, fears,
that in his desperate attempt to keep them stuffed he just about literally imploded. Jack somehow, we don't know exactly what was said, had to
try and cram some of it back in, patch him up, and watch him, wounded but walking, drive away.
Nothing new.
Nothing changed.
The whole thing somehow torqued back together.
See ya in November.
Yeah, November.....I guess.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: o2binla on January 16, 2008, 02:50:23 PM
See ya in November.
Yeah, November.....I guess.

I'd say the look on Jack's face as Ennis drives off incorporates this, as well as the "let be" part of the DE, presumably.  Jack is still very upset, but Ennis doesn't see it. 
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: janjo on January 16, 2008, 03:49:10 PM
Well! I have had to go out on important family business, but I see garyd has answered the point for me. We have to be told that Jack and Ennis couldn't talk about their feelings because we can't be shown, the avoiding eye contact, hiding under their hats behaviour that we see on screen. It is not an imposed restriction but the normal behaviour that one sees in teenage boys.
I don't know enough gay young men to generalise, although I do know some, but certainly unless a boy is a very forward type, if he really fancies a girl he is much more likely to hit her or tease her to show affection rather than to actually say so.
Jack and Ennis have to be like this, not speaking of their love for one another, if they weren't there would be no story.
Reason enough for ya!
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: garyd on January 16, 2008, 04:08:12 PM
Jack and Ennis have to be like this, not speaking of their love for one another, if they weren't there would be no story.
Reason enough for ya!

LOL, I love , it love it.  So true, so true.

If only Othello had not been the jealous type.
If only Scarlett had told Rhett how she really felt before he no longer gave a damn.
If only Antigone had known that Creon relented.
If only Hamlet had not been.......NUTS!

We would be without some great stories.

Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Ministering angel on January 16, 2008, 04:25:20 PM
Well, of course they can't talk about it, because that's a major part of the story. They can't be straight either.

What is of significance to me is the typical AP loop-closing. We are told at the beginning that they didn't talk about it; we are told at the end that they didn't talk about it. In a normal relationship you'd hope that EVENTUALLY they'd get around to discussing the important things, but no, this pair never did. NEVER. And it virtually destroys them when they finally do.

So why didn't they develop a dialogue? Because Ennis would not allow it to happen. Right from the word go the restriction was there, and Jack knew it just as well as he knew that there would be no turning around for him in the Dozy Embrace. These were the groundrules set down by Ennis.

This lack of talking is a critical feature of the story, not just a throwaway line to tell us they were typical teenage horndogs. Even t.t.h. grow up and learn to communicate after a fashion; these two never did. It is a telling part of the story because it highlights the way Ennis could not come face to face with the truth. And that is the tragic fact  on which the story is built. It can't be dismissed lightly.

Why, as Jack falls silent after his outburst, are we told "Like vast clouds of steam from thermal pools in winter, the years of things unsaid and now unsayable rose around them"?  That's all we are told about "cause" at this most awful moment. The rest is "effect". The cause was the revealing of truth at last. This has to be related straight back to their earliest behaviour when they said not one goddamn word.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on January 16, 2008, 05:25:19 PM
I'm wondering why the no -talking is being debated;;Is it the hundredth thing that shines the light on Ennis's denial, maybe?

I think it is critical to his character development..and gary, I kind of think, 'not a gd word' could as likely be Jack's thought as AP's..after all, at the Reunion, and I beg to differ, mini, they do talk there-Jack goes, 'we gotta talk about this.' The mouth cherry has been popped  ;) by Jack's big teeth, and it brings blood-Ennis's heart comes out, he speaks as much as he can about how he feels.
But alas, he sees the result: He sees the impact on Jack, how it could be, and remembers what could happen-and also what it means about him, if he follows thru, I think.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: garyd on January 16, 2008, 05:46:54 PM
I'm wondering why the no -talking is being debated;;Is it the hundredth thing that shines the light on Ennis's denial, maybe?

I think it is critical to his character development..and gary, I kind of think, 'not a gd word' could as likely be Jack's thought as AP's..after all, at the Reunion, and I beg to differ, mini, they do talk there-Jack goes, 'we gotta talk about this.' The mouth cherry has been popped  ;) by Jack's big teeth, and it brings blood-Ennis's heart comes out, he speaks as much as he can about how he feels.
But alas, he sees the result: He sees the impact on Jack, how it could be, and remembers what could happen-and also what it means about him, if he follows thru, I think.

Yup, I have little doubt that the thought has crossed Jack's mind as well (not a gd word).  It is basically a cry of frustration from him, AP and all of us, I think.
And, yeah, they do talk at the motel and Ennis  appears to be pretty damn open.  But, it is really him simply vocalizing his rationalization of the situation.  He, I think, pretty much sets the rules for the next 16 years, with "whoa that ain't the way it 's gonna be". 
Whether he knows it or not, it's the only way he can live with it.  Any other scenario is simply not part of his "world view".  He's married, Jack's married, they got responsibilities, people really can't live like that anyway (and survive) so, yeah "it's a bitch of a situation" but nothing they can do about it now....if ever.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on January 16, 2008, 05:53:46 PM
I don't think it is necessary to be dismissive of a post if the person wants to discuss the absence of conversation on the mountain. 

Furthermore, I am not sure I understand your post.  First you scream that they NEVER talk about the "important things" and then you say it "virtually" destroys them when they finally do.   ???
I, of course, never bought into the whole "loop" and "bookend' and "key" and "opening of locks" theory so I am naturally at a loss to understand how "vast clouds of steam" translates into some kind of heart to heart about love and homosexuality and Ennis trying to keep the reins on this one, there at the trail head.. I honestly don't see any "revealing of truth" at last.
Ennis recovers, probably decides he cant' fix it, drives off, and I think fully expects to see Jack in November. 

 To me the steam metaphor is a simple but exquisite word picture for the fact that all of the unsaid, now un-sayable things are just that...vapor.  It's too late.  They have lived the lie for too long.  We hear the catalytic 'you been to Mexico", "and I wish i knew how to quit you", but we do not hear what is actually said after Ennis implodes.  We are told that somehow the relationship was torqued back into place. 
And from what we now know of the two, it seems likely that it is Jack who does the torquing.
Gary, who  are you talking to?   ;D  I can't tell.....
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: garyd on January 16, 2008, 06:48:43 PM
Sorry, I was responding to MIni's post.  And, of course, I shouldn't have.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: royandronnie on January 16, 2008, 07:37:13 PM
Just a general comment on the 'restrictions'.   
I also disagree that all quick and rough, etc. is the norm for men this age.   I most of us will at some point (even if it was a while ago) have had lovers that age, or inexperienced lovers - given time (which Jack and Ennis) and lack of inhibitions, they are usually eager and keen to explore. 

The thing is, and I think this is important--neither Ennis nor Jack was female. There are some guys who are naturally tender--I've known a few. But I don't think it would be all that general between two guys. They might have been totally different with girls, but with each other… I think that makes a BIG difference. It's not that they wouldn't have behaved tenderly. It's that they didn't behave with each other, at least not enough that we are told about it. If Ennis was trying not to be queer, and Jack was trying not to reveal himself as queer, sex that always had a rough-housing element to it gave them a decent level of deniability.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: royandronnie on January 16, 2008, 07:43:37 PM

7. Ennis comes to an acceptance of his homosexuality after Jack dies.

Bolded is VERY intriguing...... ;D

I'm not sure why you pick this one out--I'm only using your own argument about the peeing in the sink representing Ennis no longer caring about society=has come to accept who he really is! I am extrapolating somewhat here, except that the continued presence of the Shirts in his life, and his pleasure at Jack being in his dream, suggest he has at least reached an accommodation with the issue. The sad part is this isn't really such a big step, though we usually imply or even say it is. After all, what does it cost Ennis to acknowledge his love in some silent way? As we have noted repeatedly, Jack is dead at this point, and loving him can no longer put Ennis under pressure or in danger. So, he accepts it.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: royandronnie on January 16, 2008, 08:00:13 PM

But in the end, we do know there were some restrictions, however much we disagree over the details.     I can't agree that 19 year olds wouldn't talk about sex - quite the opposite in my experience - they're usually obsessed with it!  But whatever other 19 year olds do (and I'd suggest that 19 year olds who will have a sexual relationship without ever acknowledging it verbally are showing some sort of repression or restriction, like Ennis) we're still being told that these two didn't - that that restriction was there - that Brokeback did not give them free rein to do whatever they liked.   

Yes, either CSI or MinAngel brought out the brilliant point that they talked about lots of things--but NOT girls. I think that almost from the get-go there was a sexual tension between them and they instinctively understood the subject was dangerous. Perhaps--who knows--they played along with other guys, swapping lies and talking dirty about girls they knew, but I think with each other, all alone, they steered clear of a natural subject.

It cannot be argued that story Ennis and Jack did not speak during sex or about sex. I think it's interesting to consider that at the time, maybe Jack didn't want to either. We ASSUME he did--but why? Because of Jake's performance? Maybe given his druthers, he would have preferred to talk, but with "I ain't no queer," he knows for sure if he wants the sex to continue, he'd better leave it alone.  But really, one of the other really important things we never know is how Jack felt about being gay. We don't KNOW that he was cool with it, we only KNOW that he didn't let it get in the way of having gay experiences other than Ennis, so we make that assumption, and I think that's a pretty safe one. But how did he feel at 19, having his first sexual experience with another man, certainly his first full-on sex? (Most agree, even if they believe he'd had some M/M experience, that he was a virgin.) I would say a combination of exhilarated and scared. Wouldn't he have had to be scared? He didn't have an Earl in his past, but he'd sure heard plenty of derogatory remarks about queers by that time, heard other boys call each other queer as an insult, maybe been called that because he was small, if for no other reason. He wanted to get it right, but here he was doing something else wrong. So maybe he was perfectly happy to go along with the silence thing as long as he hadn't sorted out his own feelings yet.

PS. All right, this is a little unlikely, I admit--but for the sake of discussion: this is Ennis' story, is it not? Except for the DE and the two revelations about Jack having sex w/other men, we agree that it can be read essentially as him remembering their lives. So is it just possible that the "not a goddamned word" is Ennis, and not Jack or AP? It is a striking phrase, so emotional amidst all the dry, spare writing. It's intrusive. Her descriptions of weather are lurid, but do not pass a judgement; that phrase does. So is it Ennis, regretting? I know--VERY unlikely. But the thought struck me just now, so I throw it out to you all. More likely that it's a little authorial self-indulgence.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on January 16, 2008, 08:08:34 PM

7. Ennis comes to an acceptance of his homosexuality after Jack dies.

Bolded is VERY intriguing...... ;D

I'm not sure why you pick this one out--I'm only using your own argument about the peeing in the sink representing Ennis no longer caring about society=has come to accept who he really is! I am extrapolating somewhat here, except that the continued presence of the Shirts in his life, and his pleasure at Jack being in his dream, suggest he has at least reached an accommodation with the issue. The sad part is this isn't really such a big step, though we usually imply or even say it is. After all, what does it cost Ennis to acknowledge his love in some silent way? As we have noted repeatedly, Jack is dead at this point, and loving him can no longer put Ennis under pressure or in danger. So, he accepts it.
Relax, I'm not making an issue...You're just so definitive about it  ;D, so I couldn't resist..but from my pov,  I don't see the obvious or even suggestive evidence. I 've gone back and forth about the peeing in the sink..I think minimally its true, he doesn't care if anyone judges him for loving Jack-but remember, it was only the one person. Not sure he's sat and defined his sexuality. On the other hand, you'd think by that age and his lack of interest in anyone, especially women, he might figure it out. I don't know.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on January 16, 2008, 08:09:45 PM
Sorry, I was responding to MIni's post.  And, of course, I shouldn't have.
I was just wondering....it was right after mine, so...... :)
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: garyd on January 16, 2008, 10:00:02 PM

PS. All right, this is a little unlikely, I admit--but for the sake of discussion: this is Ennis' story, is it not? Except for the DE and the two revelations about Jack having sex w/other men, we agree that it can be read essentially as him remembering their lives. So is it just possible that the "not a goddamned word" is Ennis, and not Jack or AP? It is a striking phrase, so emotional amidst all the dry, spare writing. It's intrusive. Her descriptions of weather are lurid, but do not pass a judgement; that phrase does. So is it Ennis, regretting? I know--VERY unlikely. But the thought struck me just now, so I throw it out to you all. More likely that it's a little authorial self-indulgence.
This is interesting.  However, even though the prologue might allow one to make the arguement the story is a flashback told from Ennis' point of view, it is actually told from the pov of third person omniscient.  So, it is probably not strictly Ennis.  More than likely it is editorial by the author and represenative of the thoughts of all involved, including the reader.

(Well, of course it is not tpo, is it?  It's third person limited....which allows for the "not a gd word" phrase. ) 
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: garyd on January 16, 2008, 10:03:17 PM
Sorry, I was responding to MIni's post.  And, of course, I shouldn't have.
I was just wondering....it was right after mine, so...... :)

I know, just a coincidence of timing and the fact that I chose not to quote the post to which I was referring.
Be that as it may, I should have learned my lesson months ago and stuck to my guns about not being baited.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Desecra on January 16, 2008, 11:42:10 PM
Just a general comment on the 'restrictions'.   
I also disagree that all quick and rough, etc. is the norm for men this age.   I most of us will at some point (even if it was a while ago) have had lovers that age, or inexperienced lovers - given time (which Jack and Ennis) and lack of inhibitions, they are usually eager and keen to explore. 

The thing is, and I think this is important--neither Ennis nor Jack was female. There are some guys who are naturally tender--I've known a few. But I don't think it would be all that general between two guys. They might have been totally different with girls, but with each other… I think that makes a BIG difference. It's not that they wouldn't have behaved tenderly. It's that they didn't behave with each other, at least not enough that we are told about it. If Ennis was trying not to be queer, and Jack was trying not to reveal himself as queer, sex that always had a rough-housing element to it gave them a decent level of deniability.

I think that it's your last sentence that really gets to the truth.  That's why they're behaving the way they are.    It's not that men only want quick, rough sex, or that 19 year olds only want quick, rough sex or that teenagers never talk about sex, or even that gay men only like quick, rough sex or don't talk about sex.    It's because they're young gay men in those particular adverse circumstances, where their sexuality is considered dangerous and wrong.    Homophobia again - that's what stops them talking and  slowing down or expanding the sex.    We find out later that the homophobia is particularly pertinent to Ennis, who showed him, traumatically, that he'd brutally murder and mutilate anyone gay, and to Jack, who has been deprived of approval and sees his sexuality as making him less of a man.   Neither of them could have talked about it, because neither of them were in a position to say that what they were doing was OK.    Ennis was trying to deny what it meant, and Jack was trying to fit in with Ennis. 

So I don't think we're being told that they act like teenagers - it's directly related to homophobia, and it's explained further as the story continues. 
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Desecra on January 17, 2008, 12:00:07 AM
Yes, either CSI or MinAngel brought out the brilliant point that they talked about lots of things--but NOT girls. I think that almost from the get-go there was a sexual tension between them and they instinctively understood the subject was dangerous. Perhaps--who knows--they played along with other guys, swapping lies and talking dirty about girls they knew, but I think with each other, all alone, they steered clear of a natural subject.

That seems likely to me.

Quote
It cannot be argued that story Ennis and Jack did not speak during sex or about sex. I think it's interesting to consider that at the time, maybe Jack didn't want to either. We ASSUME he did--but why? Because of Jake's performance? Maybe given his druthers, he would have preferred to talk, but with "I ain't no queer," he knows for sure if he wants the sex to continue, he'd better leave it alone.  But really, one of the other really important things we never know is how Jack felt about being gay. We don't KNOW that he was cool with it, we only KNOW that he didn't let it get in the way of having gay experiences other than Ennis, so we make that assumption, and I think that's a pretty safe one. But how did he feel at 19, having his first sexual experience with another man, certainly his first full-on sex? (Most agree, even if they believe he'd had some M/M experience, that he was a virgin.) I would say a combination of exhilarated and scared. Wouldn't he have had to be scared? He didn't have an Earl in his past, but he'd sure heard plenty of derogatory remarks about queers by that time, heard other boys call each other queer as an insult, maybe been called that because he was small, if for no other reason. He wanted to get it right, but here he was doing something else wrong. So maybe he was perfectly happy to go along with the silence thing as long as he hadn't sorted out his own feelings yet.

I think we do know a little about what Jack felt about his sexuality.   I think that the 'pissing scene' helps to explain Jack's attitude to being gay (as the Earl scene helps to explain Ennis's).    It seems that he sees it as something he's stuck with rather than something he can control, which explains why we don't see any effort to not be gay from Jack - he doesn't believe he can change it.   He accepts it, but he doesn't see it as a good thing - the words he uses to describe his circumcision are negative - you don't get the impression that he sees his circumcised cock as being better than, or even as good as his father's.     His sexuality is also tied into the idea of not being able to get it right (with Ennis, eventually) - he can't change it and there's no way for him to get it right. 

So if Jack's aware of his sexuality on Brokeback - right from the FNIT he gets a clear message that he shouldn't reveal it.    Ennis rejects his cock (the symbol of his sexuality, in a way) confirming what he already feels - he's different, branded, less acceptable.    Ennis restricts what they do, and warns Jack off during sex.     I think Jack is tuned in enough to him to know it wouldn't be adviseable to reveal his sexuality.    If it wasn't for that attitude we're told about - if he really was confident about his own sexuality, he might just have been able to push a bit more. 

There's also the question of time - they really don't have that long on Brokeback, and I get the feeling that Jack bides his time, hoping for the next step forward.  (And there are a few steps - the FNIT, the DE, the August night).    So I don't think Jack makes a decision to never talk about his sexuality - he's waiting for the right moment.   I think he would have admitted it at the reunion, if Ennis hadn't cued him not to. 

Of course I'm looking at what we know later, not at the time.   At the time, when we read it, I think it sounds like they're both acting the same way for the same reasons. 

Quote
PS. All right, this is a little unlikely, I admit--but for the sake of discussion: this is Ennis' story, is it not? Except for the DE and the two revelations about Jack having sex w/other men, we agree that it can be read essentially as him remembering their lives. So is it just possible that the "not a goddamned word" is Ennis, and not Jack or AP? It is a striking phrase, so emotional amidst all the dry, spare writing. It's intrusive. Her descriptions of weather are lurid, but do not pass a judgement; that phrase does. So is it Ennis, regretting? I know--VERY unlikely. But the thought struck me just now, so I throw it out to you all. More likely that it's a little authorial self-indulgence.

It could be - we start from the prologue, and it could be Ennis in retrospect, remembering that they didn't speak a goddamn word.   I don't think it's Ennis at the time - it seems to me that he was avoiding thinking about what they were doing as well as avoiding speaking about it - 'not a goddamn word' would push him in the direction of asking why, I think. 
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Desecra on January 17, 2008, 12:19:43 AM
Well! I have had to go out on important family business, but I see garyd has answered the point for me. We have to be told that Jack and Ennis couldn't talk about their feelings because we can't be shown, the avoiding eye contact, hiding under their hats behaviour that we see on screen. It is not an imposed restriction but the normal behaviour that one sees in teenage boys.
I don't know enough gay young men to generalise, although I do know some, but certainly unless a boy is a very forward type, if he really fancies a girl he is much more likely to hit her or tease her to show affection rather than to actually say so.
Jack and Ennis have to be like this, not speaking of their love for one another, if they weren't there would be no story.
Reason enough for ya!


Actually, I think the film and book are different here.   In the film they do talk about the sex - there's that conversation on the mountainside after the FNIT.   They're clearly acknowledging that something has happened (and is going to continue to happen).  And we're not given the further detail of 'not a goddamn word' during sex - we don't know if they said anything during sex.    So that particular restriction is another thing which has been left out of the film, and I can see why.

I agree that 19 year olds (or people of any age) might hit and tease - but they also have sex, and also talk about sex.   However, closeted gay men in a homophobic society might find it more difficult to express themselves freely, verbally and sexually.    I think this is about homophobia, again, (in the broad sense) rather than their age.   If it was just their age, then why do they continue to deny their sexuality when they're older?

Your last point - I'm not sure what you mean here.  I think this is in answer to me asking why we are shown something of no consequence (that 19 year olds don't talk about sex).    Are you saying that we don't need to know why they don't talk?  Is the idea that any couple who fell in love at 19 would have similar problems because the lack of communication at that age?
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: janjo on January 17, 2008, 02:31:23 AM
A boy and a girl would talk about the sex, she would make him. Two boys? I just doubt it. If they had talked about what was going on with them, how they really felt about each other, they would, I think, have had to make some accommodation in their circumstances, have had to arrange to see each other, to be together. The fact that they didn't, or couldn't, that they had to keep up the image, the manly pretence that they were tough and nothing affected them, is at the core of why this didn't happen.
That is why I say that without the manly stoicism which is so apparent here, there would be no story.
Perhaps it is because I am in my fifties and I can remember those times, but men have changed a lot in their attitudes since 1963. A man would never have been seen pushing a pram, or carrying a bunch of flowers in those days.
Sex was not talked about freely. Unmarried mothers were ostracised.
With the natural reticence to talk about feelings, common to boys that age, the fact that they were indulging in homosexual acts that were regarded by society as a wicked perversion, and to the tenor of the times, I would have said that not speaking about the sex was exactly what one would expect.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Ministering angel on January 17, 2008, 04:01:22 AM
Sorry, I was responding to MIni's post.  And, of course, I shouldn't have.
I was just wondering....it was right after mine, so...... :)

I know, just a coincidence of timing and the fact that I chose not to quote the post to which I was referring.
Be that as it may, I should have learned my lesson months ago and stuck to my guns about not being baited.

Given that your post has been deleted I won't respond to it, despite the fact that it remains as a quote. However, I wasn't baiting. I was expressing my views on the importance of the "no talking" stuff.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on January 17, 2008, 07:17:16 AM
A boy and a girl would talk about the sex, she would make him. Two boys? I just doubt it. If they had talked about what was going on with them, how they really felt about each other, they would, I think, have had to make some accommodation in their circumstances, have had to arrange to see each other, to be together. The fact that they didn't, or couldn't, that they had to keep up the image, the manly pretence that they were tough and nothing affected them, is at the core of why this didn't happen.
That is why I say that without the manly stoicism which is so apparent here, there would be no story.
Perhaps it is because I am in my fifties and I can remember those times, but men have changed a lot in their attitudes since 1963. A man would never have been seen pushing a pram, or carrying a bunch of flowers in those days.
Sex was not talked about freely. Unmarried mothers were ostracised.
With the natural reticence to talk about feelings, common to boys that age, the fact that they were indulging in homosexual acts that were regarded by society as a wicked perversion, and to the tenor of the times, I would have said that not speaking about the sex was exactly what one would expect.
IMO, a very reasonable argument.
The 'but' is that there was perhaps a desire to talk on one of their parts, ie, Jack's, as we see from the Reunion, 'we gotta talk about this'; and Ennis was not going to allow it, except just the one time, with INNQ, on BBM. I think the reason it is emphasized by the author is, it is not describing what might seem like ordinary male stoicism that she would have to assume her reader is at least dimly aware of, as much as the fact that if they were suspended above ordinary affairs and anything goes, and all that-what was stopping him? If we say its simply part of who he was, then why? And if the answer is, he is a man of his time, then I submit homophobia also makes him a man of his time, along with not doing certain things that would trigger his fear/shame combo. and I think Jack, frustrated as he was, understood-he was a man of his time-, so did not push it as  you well pointed out, a woman might.
This was two men together who understood these Things, so it is expected they would react differently than a man and woman together. I'm not sure how that can be defined in today's terms, there is so much more gender-bending and more loose-thankfully-boundaries, but back then? For all intents and purposes, these people, culturally, were living in the old West. They lacked the education to tell them there were other options....Jack was just desperate enough to cross that line with Ennis once or twice.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: janjo on January 17, 2008, 07:27:44 AM
I don't think we are disagreeing very much here, except to say that Ennis would have had to have felt the shame in the first place in order to organise his list of restrictions. I don't think he did feel that shame, it built up until everything became "mixed" and then he punched Jack. I don't think there was enough shame before that. He was enjoying himself too much.
It is nice that we agree about most of it.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on January 17, 2008, 07:45:26 AM
If anyone has not yet read Eric Patterson's article from the General Discussion thread, it addresses many of the points we've been discussing from day 1, and also adds a few insights. One thing he seems convinced of, is that Jack was murdered in the end; and that both fathers had a sense of a lack of masculinity in their sons when they were small. That was speculated about, a long time ago, by the stalwarts. here..I wonder how much research was done using this Forum! ;D ;D ;D
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Desecra on January 17, 2008, 09:41:21 AM
A boy and a girl would talk about the sex, she would make him. Two boys? I just doubt it. If they had talked about what was going on with them, how they really felt about each other, they would, I think, have had to make some accommodation in their circumstances, have had to arrange to see each other, to be together. The fact that they didn't, or couldn't, that they had to keep up the image, the manly pretence that they were tough and nothing affected them, is at the core of why this didn't happen.
That is why I say that without the manly stoicism which is so apparent here, there would be no story.
Perhaps it is because I am in my fifties and I can remember those times, but men have changed a lot in their attitudes since 1963. A man would never have been seen pushing a pram, or carrying a bunch of flowers in those days.
Sex was not talked about freely. Unmarried mothers were ostracised.
With the natural reticence to talk about feelings, common to boys that age, the fact that they were indulging in homosexual acts that were regarded by society as a wicked perversion, and to the tenor of the times, I would have said that not speaking about the sex was exactly what one would expect.

Well, exactly - you would expect there to be restrictions.   It wasn't the same as it might be with, say Ennis and Alma, where their relationship is sanctioned.    At some time Ennis and Alma must have talked about it, because they somehow managed to get engaged.   But for two homophobic men in a homophobic society, I think it would be unlikely if they could freely give their all.   Not because they teenagers don't talk about sex, or because men don't talk about sex, but because their sex is not considered acceptable by their society and possibly by themselves.  Jack and Ennis were no different, and the restrictions that we see on first reading, as I keep saying, are similar enough to the restrictions we'd expect.    There was no Greek idyll or perfect Eden, no true 'innocence' - it was those restrictions which allowed them to avoid facing their (what we later find out are) different issues. 

Of course, later we get more information about their different attitudes and the parts they played in those restrictions.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Desecra on January 17, 2008, 09:53:07 AM
I don't think we are disagreeing very much here, except to say that Ennis would have had to have felt the shame in the first place in order to organise his list of restrictions. I don't think he did feel that shame, it built up until everything became "mixed" and then he punched Jack. I don't think there was enough shame before that. He was enjoying himself too much.
It is nice that we agree about most of it.

Where do you get the idea that Ennis organised a list of restrictions?   I don't see that happening at all.   I think it's clear from the bits we're told (the sheep being mixed, the punch, etc.) that he hasn't thought this through at all.     The sex of the FNIT, for instance, seems quick - how could he have had a thought out plan for that contingency?   And yet the restrictions are in place right from the start.   It seems to be instinctive ('as though he'd touched fire').    Where do you see him actually thinking it through and organising a list?

Ennis's shame is lurking underneath, and he keeps it there with the restrictions.   If it wasn't for the restrictions, it would have surfaced long before the punch (as it does in the less restricted film).    But we know it was there - or why would there be the restrictions in the first place?   And Jack tells it's there later on - Ennis didn't want to see or feel him.   What reason could it be other than his shame, or homophobia or whatever you want to call it?
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on January 17, 2008, 02:19:44 PM
Self-loathing MUST be connected to shame-its essentially the same thing, only loathing is a stronger degree. And what could he be ashamed about? Well, it we are told he is self-loathing, and the only early event we get is the connection to Earl,(I doubt he hates himself over his parent's death-unless he ties it to self-blame cuz he's a bad queer kid, in his own mind) we are left to assume it has something to do with homosexuality, as the results were displayed for him, horribly-and Ennis explains it all very clearly for Jack and us at the Reunion. "I don't want to be one of them guys" That is enough for him to not want. Also not wanting to be dead is the risk he would be taking-but being one of them guys is an end unto itself. The risk of death is possible; the shame tied to being one of those guys is an absolute, in Ennis's mind, whether he dies for it or not..

If someone told him, you'll never die from this-do we really think he'd go ahead and do it, move in with Jack? Ok, maybe...but realistically, cuz no one could ever guarantee that,  I think the constant 'fear' was an excuse to not go ahead with it, because he used other excuses later in life, when he could have easily used the same excuse, ie, we could get caught, and he could have made Don's cabin or something like it,  a regular thing.... The bashing fear tends to lose preeminence over time, as the lack of actual bashing experience gets larger the older Ennis gets. Yet, he still threatens Jack, takes on the role of the basherr, 20 years later. That is more than fear, that has an elment of hatred in it. His self-loathing, and thus shame/humiliation is getting projected onto the man he loves the most....

As far as the shame coming to the surface at the punch, and let me clarify, I believe it is the first time he actually confronts, or is aware of it in terms of Jack, I think it is certainly the perfect catalyst for the resulting behavior-He must strike out at Jack for what he feels guilty over. This is a pattern for him, throughout the story-until the end.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Ministering angel on January 17, 2008, 04:10:29 PM
CSI - you quibbled about my statement that they never talked by pointing out the motel convo. Yes, I agree there are plenty of words exchanged and that Ennis says some pretty profound things about his feeling. But what he doesn't allow discussion about is the queer issue. He brings it up himself only to close it down immediately. It's the same on the mountain; he brings it up but only to deny it. So he preempts anything Jack might say both times.

At the end he does it again. Jack says "I did once", Ennis queries Mexico, Jack responds not with the denial he is SUPPOSED to give, according to Ennis's system ("Me neither" on the mountain, "Shit, no" in the motel) but instead with an acknowledgment, and Ennis tries to shut him down again, yet he can't deny the truth any longer, hence the weird statement "What I don't know, all them things I don't know, could get you killed if I should come to know them".

Of course he know those things but he's warding off further discussion, and when Jack pays no heed Ennis goes down like a sack of spuds, and they have to pull things back from the brink in order to continue somehow. The thing that Jack doesn't and cannot say is IMO "I love you".

When Ennis goes to LF, he hears about the rancher, he "knows" Jack has been murdered and he then finds the shirts, but now he has no way of shutting down those things he has avoided. He sort of tries; he doesn't want to know that Jack will be buried in the graveyard, but it's his last pathetic attempt at denial.

Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on January 17, 2008, 04:20:11 PM
I agree, he does shut it down-after he brings it up. ;D quibble, quibble, quibble....
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Ministering angel on January 17, 2008, 04:35:25 PM
Re. shame and restrictions. (I'll probably just rehash what's just been said, sorry. This is my way of clarifying things to myself.) The speed with which Ennis responds to Jack's handgrab tells me that he's ready for something to happen. The desire and attraction has been building up although he's experienced it as simply a great friendship. So if I assume he's never felt any homosexual urges before (because he's avoided such situations unconsciously), then the trigger for the shame would be his growing "friendship" with Jack. On the surface it's friendship, but underneath it's increasing attraction and shame.

Chances are that if Jack hadn't made his move, Ennis might have kept it at a friendship level for the whole of summer. But Jack makes his move and Ennis responds immediately (with those uncommonly quick reflexes  that allow no time for conscious thought) with both attraction (he fucks Jack) and shame (he does it from behind). Even before that happens the twin drivers are there - shame (he jerks his hand back) and attraction (he hauls Jack up on all fours).

I think what you are saying, janjo, is that the shame begins with FNIT and grows up until the punch when it makes its appearance, but there are no restrictions placed on their activities by Ennis because he doesn't feel the shame. So he continues to have sex with Jack in an increasingly intimate fashion, and to go beyond sex with the DE, even though he has a growing sense of shame. Is this right?

CSI, yes, he sidesteps shame in the motel. He says he can't live with Jack because they'll die. The comment about them guys is separated out and is never explained. In his own way he overcomes fear - he places huge restrictions on what they do but does them anyway. But shame still sneaks into his mind. They can't hardly be decent if they do what they did back at the apartment; his anger at Alma's Txgiving outburst. And it's not fear which makes him collapse at the end, or punch Jack on the mountain.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: janjo on January 17, 2008, 04:46:48 PM
Quote from Ministering Angel

I think what you are saying, janjo, is that the shame begins with FNIT and grows up until the punch when it makes its appearance, but there are no restrictions placed on their activities by Ennis because he doesn't feel the shame. So he continues to have sex with Jack in an increasingly intimate fashion, and to go beyond sex with the DE, even though he has a growing sense of shame. Is this right?

I don't know when the shame begins, probably not so much the FNIT, as at the point when Ennis realises just how much Jack means to him. It is certainly something that grows within him as their relationship deepens, and as their stay on the mountain increases in length.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: royandronnie on January 17, 2008, 05:54:41 PM
Quote from Ministering Angel

I think what you are saying, janjo, is that the shame begins with FNIT and grows up until the punch when it makes its appearance, but there are no restrictions placed on their activities by Ennis because he doesn't feel the shame. So he continues to have sex with Jack in an increasingly intimate fashion, and to go beyond sex with the DE, even though he has a growing sense of shame. Is this right?

I don't know when the shame begins, probably not so much the FNIT, as at the point when Ennis realises just how much Jack means to him. It is certainly something that grows within him as their relationship deepens, and as their stay on the mountain increases in length.


Yes. I agree with Janjo. We have to take Annie's word for this: while they were on Brokeback, they felt free, Ennis especially. She says this repeatedly in different ways--pawing the white out, finding companionship, laughing and snorting. Now, we argue again and again that he wasn't free, by OUR standards, but by his own, he was out and proud. He remembers it as a euphoric time, until the end, when the sudden recall crashed fun, fantasy and denial into reality and ruined everything. I would say his sense of shame did not develop like a rising tide, but like a dam breaking--it was in fact growing all the time but was safe behind their isolation and the guaranteed time they had alone. When those two things were stolen from him, with him as yet unprepared for the end, the dam burst and in grief, shame, anger and fear he punched Jack because he could neither bear to have his intimacy, nor bear to lose him.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Ministering angel on January 17, 2008, 05:58:50 PM
So why is it the ministering and not the nosebleed which kicks it off? What specifically causes the dam to break, in your opinion?

And "out and proud"?  ;D ;D
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: royandronnie on January 17, 2008, 06:27:56 PM
So why is it the ministering and not the nosebleed which kicks it off? What specifically causes the dam to break, in your opinion?

And "out and proud"?  ;D ;D

Oh, I think it's both together. Annie links the two, after all, and it makes perfect sense. The one and then the other following it are intolerable to Ennis, Earl+tenderness of a lover. I think the breaking is the recall. Extending the dam analogy, if the summer had proceeded as expected, Ennis would have closed himself off and gone his way, secure in the knowledge that it could not have been queer because when it was over, he let it go--water being gradually released, lowering the lake level. He would have grieved as much or more, but would have been impervious to future contact. It was done, it was over. It is, as I have said repeatedly, the unmasking, the catching almost literally in the act, which does not allow Ennis time to put his defenses in place. The denial just doesn't work. It doesn't matter what restrictions were or were not imposed: he has been having sex with another man. And LOVING it. He is suddenly in turmoil, as shown by the "expulsion from Paradise" weather and the "headlong fall," and even if he can't allow himself to understand why, the feeling of turmoil itself is enough to terrify him by its implications. After all, he shouldn't care one way or another. He doesn't have to know he's in love. But he can't escape understanding the feeling of shock that it's over. That's WAY too close to queer. Just as in the movie, but not shown as in the movie, from the moment he knows they are finished, everything is churning around inside him. This is the point at which I have some problems with the story. Though I believe the punch scene is gutted of both its impact and its meaning if you decide they were fooling around before hearing of the recall, the fact of the punch says Ennis is in fact in turmoil, which culminates in taking it out on Jack. That being the case, I have a really hard time believing he would be in the mood for sex after hearing of the recall--not because it would be queer, though that is a valid thought, but because he was really upset, as in the movie. Though I suppose Jack might have grabbed him, teased him and almost with relief he went for it, because that was what had come to be normal for them--but the feelings were still there, and the combination of blood and tenderness was the flashpoint. I wonder if indeed something like the punch might not have happened anyway, some kind of rejection, before the sex was completed. After all, having sex one more time kind of implies he needed to. Not good.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on January 17, 2008, 09:24:05 PM
[royandronnie link=topic=28390.msg1143421#msg1143421 date=1200619676]
So why is it the ministering and not the nosebleed which kicks it off? What specifically causes the dam to break, in your opinion?

And "out and proud"?  ;D ;D

Quote
Oh, I think it's both together. Annie links the two, after all, and it makes perfect sense
.
Can you explain this? I don't follow....

I like the rest of your post, but I have to think about it, ie, where Ennis would be without the Earl moment....its an interesting problem.

I don't agree with out and proud, though..I don't see any kind of pride, until he shows Jack off to Alma and in the end, is proud to take the ashes up-Pride being the opposite of shame. And not sure where the pride follows the out, in this story-even Jack remains cautious to an extent, keeping his friends info in his head.

Maybe I'm not following you in the abstract.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Ministering angel on January 17, 2008, 09:28:35 PM
That pride in taking the ashes up is such a killer. AP never mentions shame as such yet that use of "proud" kind of gives it away. Too late does Ennis understand that what he had with Jack should have been something to be proud of, not ashamed of. :'( :'(
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: royandronnie on January 17, 2008, 10:01:56 PM

So why is it the ministering and not the nosebleed which kicks it off? What specifically causes the dam to break, in your opinion?

And "out and proud"?  ;D ;D

Quote
Oh, I think it's both together. Annie links the two, after all, and it makes perfect sense
.
Can you explain this? I don't follow....

I don't agree with out and proud, though..I don't see any kind of pride, until he shows Jack off to Alma and in the end, is proud to take the ashes up-Pride being the opposite of shame. And not sure where the pride follows the out, in this story-even Jack remains cautious to an extent, keeping his friends info in his head.

RE: Annie linking the ministering and the nosebleed: simply that they occur in two sentences together. Ennis bled. Jack tried to blot the blood but didn't finish because Ennis punched him. This juxtaposition links the two events, nosebleed and its results, caring and punch. Therefore we have assumed that for some reason, the nosebleed and/or the caring cause the punch. The "some reason" can be variously assumed to be some combination of a. memories of Earl, triggering rejection b. memories of mother's tenderness, ie love, triggering rejection because of Earl and c. both a and b plus c, Ennis' rapidly building turmoil as guilt, shame, impending loss and fear boiling over as the blood and Jack's tenderness together trigger both flight and fight instincts.

As to out and proud, if you re-read it, you will see I was making a joke. For Ennis especially, though Jack also, Brokeback, however imperfect it may--or may not--have been, it was certainly Paradise compared to everything that followed it. Including the Reunion. On Brokeback, if he was not free, he was as free as he would ever be.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Desecra on January 17, 2008, 11:43:02 PM
I'm still not convinced that we know Brokeback was the best time for Jack.   He picks out the dozy embrace specifically, not the rest of it.   The DE itself is the best, and it happened on Brokeback, but that doesn't mean Brokeback was better than the rest.    He dismisses it later in the story, and then lets us know that he was trying to move on from Brokeback (unlike Ennis who seems to be trying to move back there).    I also don't see that Jack somehow didn't notice the restrictions or didn't care.   I think the DE shows us that he did.   He wasn't free at all - he had to tread carefully, and when he slipped up he was rejected, warned, and finally punched.

After Brokeback, Jack seems more positive - he's had Ennis's confession of love, and he continues to make plans for Ennis to move in with him - he really believes it's going to happen one day.   It's hard to say whether he's much happier, but seemingly he has a lot more to go on.   It's only at the end that he seems to look back and realise that they weren't making progress at all - that they hadn't got much farther than Brokeback.     That's what bothers him - not that they can't recreate Brokeback, but that they can't move on from it.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Desecra on January 17, 2008, 11:50:47 PM
I don't know when the shame begins, probably not so much the FNIT, as at the point when Ennis realises just how much Jack means to him. It is certainly something that grows within him as their relationship deepens, and as their stay on the mountain increases in length.

So a year after Brokeback?  I agree that that's when he starts really thinking about it - if he's going to think about Jack and what he felt for him, then he's got to face up to the shame to some extent - which he's able to do now that he fits the criteria for not being gay (wife, kids, etc.).     But it must have been there in the background all along.   It's not like it suddenly occurred to Ennis that being gay wasn't so desireable after all.   He's had the shame forced into him at an early age - that's the way he is, and the way he arrives on Brokeback.   The reason he doesn't seem to feel it is because he avoids doing things which would make him aware of it (and we don't know, but can guess that that maybe comes from long 'practice' - he's avoided anything which would tell him  he's attracted to men for years).   The restrictions he puts in place don't avoid the shame - they just avoid him thinking about it. 
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Desecra on January 18, 2008, 12:07:48 AM
Just as in the movie, but not shown as in the movie, from the moment he knows they are finished, everything is churning around inside him. This is the point at which I have some problems with the story. Though I believe the punch scene is gutted of both its impact and its meaning if you decide they were fooling around before hearing of the recall, the fact of the punch says Ennis is in fact in turmoil, which culminates in taking it out on Jack. That being the case, I have a really hard time believing he would be in the mood for sex after hearing of the recall--not because it would be queer, though that is a valid thought, but because he was really upset, as in the movie. Though I suppose Jack might have grabbed him, teased him and almost with relief he went for it, because that was what had come to be normal for them--but the feelings were still there, and the combination of blood and tenderness was the flashpoint. I wonder if indeed something like the punch might not have happened anyway, some kind of rejection, before the sex was completed. After all, having sex one more time kind of implies he needed to. Not good.

Something else got me thinking - the mention by Ennis that somebody could have seen us - I think it was CSI who suggested it might be tied to the recall and Aguirre or whoever coming up.   It seems to be something Ennis has noticed, but suspects that Jack hasn't (we don't know if he knows about Aguirre riding up and talking to Jack that other time, because Aguirre waited for him to go back to the sheep, and Jack might not have told.   So as far as Ennis is concerned, nobody has come up to the camp).     The punch happens, Jack is laid out, Ennis walks off back to camp.   What if the person came into camp then?   It would fit nicely with the recall being seen as a judgement, but would also explain Ennis worrying about somebody seeing them after the fact.

You see, I'm kind of with you on them not having sex while bringing the sheep down, for various reasons - 1. Somebody has just ridden into camp - the first time Ennis realises that they might have been seen (more pertinent if Ennis has already had the fear from the punch, of course), 2. They will be upset, as you said, Ennis not quite knowing why, 3. They are in a hurry to get the sheep off - we know Ennis has neglected them before, so might continue to do so, but if there is a sense of urgency, would they stop for sex? and 4. The outside world intruding, the 'safety' of the mountain disappearing, the mood lost - I don't know if they would. 

The punch before the recall, then.   I'm warming to the idea - particularly as unlike in the film, the recall isn't needed, necessarily, for the punch to happen.  The other factors are enough.

I kind of agree that the sequence of events in the punch are important - it's the ministering which causes the punch, but it's also the fact that it happens with the sex and the nosebleed.     There's that bit in the film where Jack 'ministers' to Ennis after he's confronted the bear - Ennis rejects it but doesn't act so violently without the other factors.   I think that even in the book, if it had just been the ministering after a non-sex-related injury, and without the nosebleed and blood all over them, it might have been different.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on January 18, 2008, 06:51:01 AM

So why is it the ministering and not the nosebleed which kicks it off? What specifically causes the dam to break, in your opinion?

And "out and proud"?  ;D ;D

Quote
Oh, I think it's both together. Annie links the two, after all, and it makes perfect sense
.
Can you explain this? I don't follow....

I don't agree with out and proud, though..I don't see any kind of pride, until he shows Jack off to Alma and in the end, is proud to take the ashes up-Pride being the opposite of shame. And not sure where the pride follows the out, in this story-even Jack remains cautious to an extent, keeping his friends info in his head.

RE: Annie linking the ministering and the nosebleed: simply that they occur in two sentences together. Ennis bled. Jack tried to blot the blood but didn't finish because Ennis punched him. This juxtaposition links the two events, nosebleed and its results, caring and punch. Therefore we have assumed that for some reason, the nosebleed and/or the caring cause the punch. The "some reason" can be variously assumed to be some combination of a. memories of Earl, triggering rejection b. memories of mother's tenderness, ie love, triggering rejection because of Earl and c. both a and b plus c, Ennis' rapidly building turmoil as guilt, shame, impending loss and fear boiling over as the blood and Jack's tenderness together trigger both flight and fight instincts.

As to out and proud, if you re-read it, you will see I was making a joke. For Ennis especially, though Jack also, Brokeback, however imperfect it may--or may not--have been, it was certainly Paradise compared to everything that followed it. Including the Reunion. On Brokeback, if he was not free, he was as free as he would ever be.
I see I didn't follow you.....thanks.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on January 18, 2008, 07:00:24 AM
Just as in the movie, but not shown as in the movie, from the moment he knows they are finished, everything is churning around inside him. This is the point at which I have some problems with the story. Though I believe the punch scene is gutted of both its impact and its meaning if you decide they were fooling around before hearing of the recall, the fact of the punch says Ennis is in fact in turmoil, which culminates in taking it out on Jack. That being the case, I have a really hard time believing he would be in the mood for sex after hearing of the recall--not because it would be queer, though that is a valid thought, but because he was really upset, as in the movie. Though I suppose Jack might have grabbed him, teased him and almost with relief he went for it, because that was what had come to be normal for them--but the feelings were still there, and the combination of blood and tenderness was the flashpoint. I wonder if indeed something like the punch might not have happened anyway, some kind of rejection, before the sex was completed. After all, having sex one more time kind of implies he needed to. Not good.

Something else got me thinking - the mention by Ennis that somebody could have seen us - I think it was CSI who suggested it might be tied to the recall and Aguirre or whoever coming up.   It seems to be something Ennis has noticed, but suspects that Jack hasn't (we don't know if he knows about Aguirre riding up and talking to Jack that other time, because Aguirre waited for him to go back to the sheep, and Jack might not have told.   So as far as Ennis is concerned, nobody has come up to the camp).     The punch happens, Jack is laid out, Ennis walks off back to camp.   What if the person came into camp then?   It would fit nicely with the recall being seen as a judgement, but would also explain Ennis worrying about somebody seeing them after the fact.

You see, I'm kind of with you on them not having sex while bringing the sheep down, for various reasons - 1. Somebody has just ridden into camp - the first time Ennis realises that they might have been seen (more pertinent if Ennis has already had the fear from the punch, of course), 2. They will be upset, as you said, Ennis not quite knowing why, 3. They are in a hurry to get the sheep off - we know Ennis has neglected them before, so might continue to do so, but if there is a sense of urgency, would they stop for sex? and 4. The outside world intruding, the 'safety' of the mountain disappearing, the mood lost - I don't know if they would. 

The punch before the recall, then.   I'm warming to the idea - particularly as unlike in the film, the recall isn't needed, necessarily, for the punch to happen.  The other factors are enough.

I kind of agree that the sequence of events in the punch are important - it's the ministering which causes the punch, but it's also the fact that it happens with the sex and the nosebleed.     There's that bit in the film where Jack 'ministers' to Ennis after he's confronted the bear - Ennis rejects it but doesn't act so violently without the other factors.   I think that even in the book, if it had just been the ministering after a non-sex-related injury, and without the nosebleed and blood all over them, it might have been different.
The one point that is new to my thinking on this is the ideaof Ennis being too upset to have sex if they were being recalled early.....I don't think he had any idea of being seen by anyone, and indeed, there may have been some titillation with the idea of getting 'caught'-because in his mind, they are not doing anything queer-just being bad boys, in a way. He does not associate, until the punch. So I don't think he is connecting the punishment of coming down early, with the sex-I think he is fearful he effed up on the job, and the sheep got mixed, and maybe somebody found out. Deep down, yes, there is always the underlying guilt.

Just another way to look at it.

I am going to reread that section again.

Keep in mind, to, the simple order of  relaying of events, during them happening, might be, from a timeline perspective, completely accurate-ie, the last afternoon was the last one they spent up there, and we get the narrative about them being pulled down early BEFORE that...I think the retro-narrative is strictly at the end. The pieces come together, in retrospect.

I still say we have to trust Ennis's shirt memory from that time-there is nothing in it that tells us he did not know at the time of the punch that it was their last time together-and it seems to indicate he knew at the time, that it was their last afternoon together-it seems tied up with the memory. Again, he learns something as Jack did thru new eyes, recalling in detail an emblazoned memory-for Jack it was the moment, the single one, of artless happiness; for Ennis, at the time,  his great memory is of a monumental failure regarding perhaps the only person, beyond his kids and family, that he ever really  loved.

The memories must be trustworthy, IMO.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on January 18, 2008, 07:08:38 AM
I'm still not convinced that we know Brokeback was the best time for Jack.   He picks out the dozy embrace specifically, not the rest of it.   The DE itself is the best, and it happened on Brokeback, but that doesn't mean Brokeback was better than the rest.    He dismisses it later in the story, and then lets us know that he was trying to move on from Brokeback (unlike Ennis who seems to be trying to move back there).    I also don't see that Jack somehow didn't notice the restrictions or didn't care.   I think the DE shows us that he did.   He wasn't free at all - he had to tread carefully, and when he slipped up he was rejected, warned, and finally punched.

After Brokeback, Jack seems more positive - he's had Ennis's confession of love, and he continues to make plans for Ennis to move in with him - he really believes it's going to happen one day.   It's hard to say whether he's much happier, but seemingly he has a lot more to go on.   It's only at the end that he seems to look back and realise that they weren't making progress at all - that they hadn't got much farther than Brokeback.     That's what bothers him - not that they can't recreate Brokeback, but that they can't move on from it.
Of course, and common sense: How can the BBM memory not be tarnished, after the punch? the single moment is just that, a single moment-the author SPELLS this out, literally;  and even that single moment is recalled by Jack 20 years later, with all the surrounding crap-'even the knowledge Ennis would not then embrace him f/f, because he did not want to see nor feel it was Jack he held.' Of course the memory HAS to be accurate and literal-we are the metaphor interpreters, not Jack.  He remembers things as they were; he was the one it happened to.
 It is illogical to question a pivotal memory, unless we are told it is inaccurate. This is not the real world-the story is a construct. We can't be so misled and then expected to understand the point, if Jack is so off and so is Ennis on their most crucial memories-the DE and the punch-then is just becomes, 'oh, darn people, we all just don't communicate well'-but that is not the stated point of the story.  Plus if we agree Ennis is seeing things/events accurately with his moment-why would Jack not be with his? Now, what they cull from those events is another story-but even that seems pretty clear, and drives the narrative forward.

Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on January 18, 2008, 07:13:24 AM
oH, and even on film, look how angry Jack is when he says, 'all we got is BBM!" He is putting it down, not holding it up....He sees the imagined power; him wanting to be buried up there is an early indicator that he's started to give up on Ennis-he wants his ashes where the DE was, something he starts to suspect he'll never feel again.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: janjo on January 18, 2008, 07:50:37 AM
oH, and even on film, look how angry Jack is when he says, 'all we got is BBM!" He is putting it down, not holding it up....He sees the imagined power; him wanting to be buried up there is an early indicator that he's started to give up on Ennis-he wants his ashes where the DE was, something he starts to suspect he'll never feel again.

Am I right in thinking that it is just Jack that you don't think had a wonderful time on Brokeback Mountain?
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on January 18, 2008, 08:14:25 AM
oH, and even on film, look how angry Jack is when he says, 'all we got is BBM!" He is putting it down, not holding it up....He sees the imagined power; him wanting to be buried up there is an early indicator that he's started to give up on Ennis-he wants his ashes where the DE was, something he starts to suspect he'll never feel again.

Am I right in thinking that it is just Jack that you don't think had a wonderful time on Brokeback Mountain?
That would not be accurate to say, really,  although I'm sure Jack enjoyed himself ..the campfire talk, and the sex....but looking back..He is frustrated...And again, Ennis had the 'wonderful time' because he was in denial of what 'it' meant. The prologue tells us that, that it 'seemed' that nothing was wrong. Are you seeing the difference?
I think we get so little of Jack's inner thoughts on BBM, perhaps only, 'but not a gd word', which I think kind of IS Jack talking. We know they had a high old time, and both knew they'd continue with the sex. But for Jack it was a mixed bag-and ULTIMATELY, when he bumps up the future, the now of the last scene, agains the past, that distant summer on BBM, he sees the fatal flaw.
Ennis gets to that years later....and I'm sure the time on BBM was marred for him, too, by what he did-the punch. But he is a different tool than Jack-he probably just moved on and compartmentalized it all, kept the imagined power in his sights,  until Jack's death sent the truth rocketing up-whereas Jack went over and over the dozy embrace-it solidified in his memory, and eventually, he got to the underlying truth, sooner than Ennis.

Jack; "maybe they'd not got much further than that'. he knows then.
Ennis: "when they owned the world and nothing SEEMED wrong.' he knows later.

Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: janjo on January 18, 2008, 08:41:01 AM
Quote from royandronnie

Yes. I agree with Janjo. We have to take Annie's word for this: while they were on Brokeback, they felt free, Ennis especially. She says this repeatedly in different ways--pawing the white out, finding companionship, laughing and snorting. Now, we argue again and again that he wasn't free, by OUR standards, but by his own, he was out and proud. He remembers it as a euphoric time, until the end, when the sudden recall crashed fun, fantasy and denial into reality and ruined everything. I would say his sense of shame did not develop like a rising tide, but like a dam breaking--it was in fact growing all the time but was safe behind their isolation and the guaranteed time they had alone. When those two things were stolen from him, with him as yet unprepared for the end, the dam burst and in grief, shame, anger and fear he punched Jack because he could neither bear to have his intimacy, nor bear to lose him.

                                                   -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

You see, I agree with Charlotte, I think we are told over and over again what a good time Jack and Ennis had up on Brokeback. It might not have been perfect, in fact if either of us had to live it, I suspect we would find it very uncomfortable, cold, wet, primitive etc. but to them it was the best time of their lives.
That is why Ennis was always seeking to recreate it. It was the best thing these two lonely and damaged boys had ever experienced.
That may seem very sad, but it seems to me it was so.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on January 18, 2008, 08:48:36 AM
No one said it was perfect of course...But, sure, they had a good time,and yes, Ennis tries to create the circumstances, the time before he knew the kind of feelings he had for Jack. He does not want accountability. That is why he always wants them away from people who might judge him, who might kill and humiliate him-as Mini said, they can't hardly be 'decent' in civilized circles-sadly, he's wrong. He does not realize just how much familiarity breeds-familiarity. ;)

How much fun they had I don't think has ever been an issue-and up until that time, it was the best time Ennis had ever had-we can assume the same for Jack.

But I don't think that in anyway murks up the queer-fear Ennis had, or the ultimate dissatsifaction Jack had. We are being told it was an illusion-a  happy one, but an illusion. The imagined power of Brokeback Mountain vanishes in his hands while he holds the shirts-and it took 20 years.

 My point is they look back and see the truth.

Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on January 18, 2008, 08:49:06 AM
Later, kiddies, I'm off today and have a breakfast thing to go to. :)
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Desecra on January 18, 2008, 09:23:47 AM
The one point that is new to my thinking on this is the ideaof Ennis being too upset to have sex if they were being recalled early.....I don't think he had any idea of being seen by anyone, and indeed, there may have been some titillation with the idea of getting 'caught'-because in his mind, they are not doing anything queer-just being bad boys, in a way. He does not associate, until the punch. So I don't think he is connecting the punishment of coming down early, with the sex-I think he is fearful he effed up on the job, and the sheep got mixed, and maybe somebody found out. Deep down, yes, there is always the underlying guilt.

Well, that's the thing - he doesn't seem to have any idea of being seen by anyone, and the one time he might have got that idea, he doesn't, because Aguirre waits for him to go back to the sheep before confronting Jack.   So we don't really know what would happen if he suddenly was confronted with someone who could have seen him - and that's what would have happened for the first time when Aguirre sent word up.   If the word comes before the punch, Ennis knows they could have been seen - he can no longer believe they are invisible.   I suppose the question is how much that affects him - it could just make him a little bit on edge during sex, or it could make him avoid sex altogether. 

Quote
Keep in mind, to, the simple order of  relaying of events, during them happening, might be, from a timeline perspective, completely accurate-ie, the last afternoon was the last one they spent up there, and we get the narrative about them being pulled down early BEFORE that...I think the retro-narrative is strictly at the end. The pieces come together, in retrospect.

I still say we have to trust Ennis's shirt memory from that time-there is nothing in it that tells us he did not know at the time of the punch that it was their last time together-and it seems to indicate he knew at the time, that it was their last afternoon together-it seems tied up with the memory. Again, he learns something as Jack did thru new eyes, recalling in detail an emblazoned memory-for Jack it was the moment, the single one, of artless happiness; for Ennis, at the time,  his great memory is of a monumental failure regarding perhaps the only person, beyond his kids and family, that he ever really  loved.

The memories must be trustworthy, IMO.

I agree that we can trust the memories - it's definitely the last afternoon.   There's nothing that tell us he didn't know - but also nothing that tells us he did.    And the earlier bit in the book when we hear about them coming down all runs together.   There isn't a point where you can tell that the punch slots in (maybe you can - you're better at that sort of thing). 

The next week Joe Aguirre sent word to bring them down -- another, bigger storm was moving in from the Pacific -- and they packed in the game and moved off the mountain with the sheep, stones rolling at their heels, purple cloud crowding in from the west and the metal smell of coming snow pressing them on. The mountain boiled with demonic energy, glazed with flickering broken-cloud light, the wind combed the grass and drew from the damaged krummholz and slit rock a bestial drone. As they descended the slope Ennis felt he was in a slow-motion, but headlong, irreversible fall.

Aguirre pays them off, they talk about next summer and we're told about Jack's bruise. 

He looked away from Jack's jaw, bruised blue from the hard punch Ennis had thrown him on the last day.

The way it reads to me, Jack was punched the day before (the 'last day' rather than 'that afternoon' or 'earlier that day'), and it sound as if as soon as they got word they started moving off, which would suggest that they got word the day after the punch.   Of course, it's very open to interpretation.   I'm not so much arguing for a particular timing as curious about why it's left so open.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Desecra on January 18, 2008, 09:33:34 AM
You see, I agree with Charlotte, I think we are told over and over again what a good time Jack and Ennis had up on Brokeback. It might not have been perfect, in fact if either of us had to live it, I suspect we would find it very uncomfortable, cold, wet, primitive etc. but to them it was the best time of their lives.
That is why Ennis was always seeking to recreate it. It was the best thing these two lonely and damaged boys had ever experienced.
That may seem very sad, but it seems to me it was so.

Yes, for Ennis it was the best time because of his denial.   While in denial, he could believe that what they were doing was fine, that what he felt for Jack was right and good, and he could accept Jack, and himself.   (We're not told much about the discomforts - I imagine they didn't affect them too much.)  So yes, he tries to recreate it, but he can't, because it isn't possible to recreate it without the denial. 

Jack, on the other hand, is not so much in denial and is aware of the restrictions.   He doesn't long for Brokeback, but for that one, single moment on Brokeback when the restrictions didn't matter because Ennis was openly showing love and acceptance.     I think it's clear when he thinks that maybe they never got much farther that he'd hoped for them to get farther - to move away from Brokeback, rather than to recreate it.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on January 18, 2008, 01:36:57 PM
You've got me thinking, Des, re timing:

The first snow comes on the 13th of August-they had 5 days before this that got blown getting the sheep unmixed, it appears, as we are not told Ennis does it in a storm-So it was only a short period for 'the whole night', like the first week in August-not arguing one or more night, just timing the beginning of his inkling that he's crossing a line with Jack. It's miserable because its hard to do, and he's worried. So he already has cause for fear of Aguirre, and he has the first sign, with the punishment of the sheep going astray. (And they thought themselves invisible, and Ennis is never there when Aguirre shows up, right? So like everything else, he just buries what he knows underneath, in order to do what he is driven to do-be with Jack.) Ok so far?

 For purposes of this, they could've spent all 7 nights together, and day 7 is the blowy hailstorm, is a possibility-Add the sheep getting mixed, 5 days, you've got day 12 or so, and on day 13 the storm comes in.  This is based on the theory that they spend every night in Aug up until the hailstorm...if not, then there could be a gap between getting the sheep unmixed, and the snowstorm-not sure if that means anything.

(I can't believe Ennis sees the storm of the 13th this as a forewarning-the sheep, yes-not the weather. He's grown up with it in Wyoming, it snows in August-it just came early that time....)

So, the next phase we have  is assuming he is not at this time sleeping with Jack all night, but just being with him during the day-'as it did go' for the rest of the summer-We have Ennis on edge anyway, because he knew the wrong sheep were coming down with them-he is going to worry about this until confronted by Aguirre. Work is very important to him, and going up to the sheep daily was also  his semblance of control with Jack, So...things as ususal, more or less, except for the sheep getting mixed-its both a job fear, and a sense underlying that he has been a bad boy-'everything seemed mixed'. (Again, the mixing of the masses, gay and straight, repped by the wandering sheep...He is feeling mixed about his desire for Jack.)

Jack meanwhile is beaming from the stay-over; again, be it one or seven nights, Jack MUST think of it as a wanted advancement; Ennis wants to spend 24 hours with him, straight-Ennis certainly thinks its a change-he is disquieted about it. It now feels mixed. We never have this before in the story-Ennis takes care to not do what he thinks is Q; so this feels q to him, obviously. So therefore, it must be a change-we are not told of anything sooner....

So, here comes the two ships crashing in the night: Jack thinks things are progressing;  Ennis begins having real fears about this advancement, perhaps regressing a bit, maybe staying away from Jack....Then, Aguirre calls them the next week-no day specified -and tells them to come down. We are NOT told he tells them this minute, or tomorrow, or whatever-but I do think there is a sense of urgency. In this light, I can't argue them having the sex/punch event, and the next morning being told to come down...because that is alot of money tied up in the livestock Aguirre has to be worried about....

Actually, if you read the way it happens on film, its all the SAME day, but they find out before the punch. So its compressed, for the sake of the action-we get no reprieve, and neither do they. So that both contradicts and supports points of the argument-they find out, but come down the same day, whereas it is afternoon when the punch happens in the book and Jack has to  find a moment to steal the shirt-makes me think he did it when Ennis went back up that night-he'd not risk it in camp with Ennis there, esp not after the punch. So where would Ennis be? Up with the sheep, at night......So yes, I guess it could happen that the next morning, they get word...and oh, wouldn't that be just a perfect cap-off to the warnings of a)the sheep getting mixed; b)the early snow and c) the comedown from the mountain, all happening after Ennis spends the whole night with Jack.

Again, sounds just so pat to me.....but it is entirely possible, no arguments. I do think a  lack of this confluence of events is more subtle, more realistic and works better-the triple play seems too predictable.  :-\

So, can't argue timing-I frankly can't see anything to dispute it from a timing standpt. I wonder if in the author's mind it seemed clear one way or the other, and she thought no more detail needed. She hasn't met us, obviously. Well, not all of us...... :D ;)



{Des make a great point, in that she's very clear on that August date, giving us limits of when what could happen-then gets vague again. Makes me feel she might be doing the pat thing, after all.}
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: janjo on January 18, 2008, 02:33:00 PM
You see, I agree with Charlotte, I think we are told over and over again what a good time Jack and Ennis had up on Brokeback. It might not have been perfect, in fact if either of us had to live it, I suspect we would find it very uncomfortable, cold, wet, primitive etc. but to them it was the best time of their lives.
That is why Ennis was always seeking to recreate it. It was the best thing these two lonely and damaged boys had ever experienced.
That may seem very sad, but it seems to me it was so.

Yes, for Ennis it was the best time because of his denial.   While in denial, he could believe that what they were doing was fine, that what he felt for Jack was right and good, and he could accept Jack, and himself.   (We're not told much about the discomforts - I imagine they didn't affect them too much.)  So yes, he tries to recreate it, but he can't, because it isn't possible to recreate it without the denial. 

Jack, on the other hand, is not so much in denial and is aware of the restrictions.   He doesn't long for Brokeback, but for that one, single moment on Brokeback when the restrictions didn't matter because Ennis was openly showing love and acceptance.     I think it's clear when he thinks that maybe they never got much farther that he'd hoped for them to get farther - to move away from Brokeback, rather than to recreate it.

I am sorry to say, Des, that I don't see this at all. I just don't think that is what we are being told.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on January 18, 2008, 02:34:42 PM
I'd love to see you address each of Des's points, if its not too late at night..it might help understand what you do see.  :)

what time is it over there, by the way?
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Rosewood on January 18, 2008, 03:53:25 PM
Quote from royandronnie

Yes. I agree with Janjo. We have to take Annie's word for this: while they were on Brokeback, they felt free, Ennis especially. She says this repeatedly in different ways--pawing the white out, finding companionship, laughing and snorting. Now, we argue again and again that he wasn't free, by OUR standards, but by his own, he was out and proud. He remembers it as a euphoric time, until the end, when the sudden recall crashed fun, fantasy and denial into reality and ruined everything. I would say his sense of shame did not develop like a rising tide, but like a dam breaking--it was in fact growing all the time but was safe behind their isolation and the guaranteed time they had alone. When those two things were stolen from him, with him as yet unprepared for the end, the dam burst and in grief, shame, anger and fear he punched Jack because he could neither bear to have his intimacy, nor bear to lose him.

                                                   -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

You see, I agree with Charlotte, I think we are told over and over again what a good time Jack and Ennis had up on Brokeback. It might not have been perfect, in fact if either of us had to live it, I suspect we would find it very uncomfortable, cold, wet, primitive etc. but to them it was the best time of their lives.
That is why Ennis was always seeking to recreate it. It was the best thing these two lonely and damaged boys had ever experienced.
That may seem very sad, but it seems to me it was so.


I agree.
It was THEIR time of happiness, not ours.
Despite the harshness of their surroundings, it was happiness found.
Not as WE would imagine it, perhaps.
But then, it's not our story.

Funny thing, when Jack says, finally, in the end: "...instead ALL we got is Brokeback Mountain!" (followed by something
like, "...that's ALL we got boy, know that if you don't know the rest.") I thought too that he was bringing it down.
Bringing it down to 'manageable' status. Corraling it. Roping it in for show. Throwing it in Ennis's face.
You didn't want a life together, so all we have is this fantasy. Jack is acknowledging the 'make-believe' facet
of it, I think. He understands that much. If he didn't, I don't think it would hurt him as deeply as it does.

But lately I've been thinking that yes, he is bringing it down, but at the same time, he is HOLDING IT UP.
It has, after all, sacred status in his heart. How do we know this?
He WANTS his ashes scattered there.
So his ALL WE GOT belies the truth that despite what he says, he WANTS TO GO BACK THERE,
even if it is only in death. EVEN IF it IS all they EVER have.

Jack is trying with ALL his might to call Ennis's attention to the FUTILITY of BBM,
of living in the past, of never getting BEYOND what they found there. And yet, at the same time,
he wants his ashes scattered on BBM for eternity. He is ALREADY thinking this, has mentioned it
at least within Lureen's hearing.

It's as if, having recognized the futility, he still cannot bring himself to break its 'imagined' spell.

I wonder if Ennis will have his ashes scattered on BBM, even though Jack's aren't there.
Probably not.

A fanciful aside:
I think I finally figured out why the 'halving' of the ashes by Lureen.
I think it was her symbolic way of holding on to her 'half' of Jack. The 'good' half.
The 'half' she fell in love with.

The 'bad' half she sends up to Wyoming.
'Bad', i.e. the impenetrable part of Jack. The part she never understood.
The part that may or may not have had a too intense relationship with some
guy up in Wyoming named Ennis.

Just a thought.



Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: gres on January 18, 2008, 04:16:52 PM
You see, I agree with Charlotte, I think we are told over and over again what a good time Jack and Ennis had up on Brokeback. It might not have been perfect, in fact if either of us had to live it, I suspect we would find it very uncomfortable, cold, wet, primitive etc. but to them it was the best time of their lives.
That is why Ennis was always seeking to recreate it. It was the best thing these two lonely and damaged boys had ever experienced.
That may seem very sad, but it seems to me it was so.

Yes, for Ennis it was the best time because of his denial.   While in denial, he could believe that what they were doing was fine, that what he felt for Jack was right and good, and he could accept Jack, and himself.   (We're not told much about the discomforts - I imagine they didn't affect them too much.)  So yes, he tries to recreate it, but he can't, because it isn't possible to recreate it without the denial. 

Jack, on the other hand, is not so much in denial and is aware of the restrictions.   He doesn't long for Brokeback, but for that one, single moment on Brokeback when the restrictions didn't matter because Ennis was openly showing love and acceptance.     I think it's clear when he thinks that maybe they never got much farther that he'd hoped for them to get farther - to move away from Brokeback, rather than to recreate it.


I wonder whether it was denial or fear. IMO denial cannot generate the i'm-not-no-queer comment but fear can and fear precedes denial which is the self-preservation mechanism a man uses to protect himself of the fear of suspicion of s'thing about your own self. In any case i still believe that for Ennis BBM was the place where everything was allowed, cus that place had had everything that could let Ennis enjoy what he had with Jack and later wanted to recreate. That place released Ennis from his fear but never by sending him to a denial state, IMO. I think denial comes later in his life, after BBM and when Jack comes back in his life by asking from Ennis a life together.

(I know i haven't commented in ages here but reading the last pages this is what all those posts made me feel and think  :) )
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Ministering angel on January 18, 2008, 04:24:08 PM
Hi Gres! Nice to see you here again. An interesting post.

I want to make sure I'm getting this right. Are you saying that Ennis would fear being queer before he had any knowledge that he actually was queer? He would know what happens to queer men and so would worry first about that ever happening to him.

So he's having sex with Jack and knows such an activity would get him killed in other circumstances and so he has to make it clear that he is NOT queer, he just looks that way. Is that it?

You've set my brain working.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: royandronnie on January 18, 2008, 07:38:35 PM
Desecra, it is Jack who makes the remark about someone seeing them. I'm not going to quote the fairly lengthy passage, but even though AP does not show the change of speaker from "It scares the piss out of me" (Ennis) to "Got to tell you friend, maybe somebody seen us that summer" (Jack), the second sentence of "Got to tell you" is Jack talking about returning to Brokeback and then "changing his mind" and going to Texas instead.

That said, I think perhaps the most curious--not to say queer--thing in the whole story is Ennis' complete lack of reaction to something which should have disturbed him deeply. It should have provided him with more ammo for not living together, etc, yet he makes no comment on this admission, nor are we shown any mental reaction or physical gesture which would suggest how he felt. Jack's words seem to drop into an empty well.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on January 18, 2008, 08:31:12 PM
Janjo just lost a feline family member, folks...She told me she's not up to posting right now. FYI.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on January 18, 2008, 08:34:42 PM
Desecra, it is Jack who makes the remark about someone seeing them. I'm not going to quote the fairly lengthy passage, but even though AP does not show the change of speaker from "It scares the piss out of me" (Ennis) to "Got to tell you friend, maybe somebody seen us that summer" (Jack), the second sentence of "Got to tell you" is Jack talking about returning to Brokeback and then "changing his mind" and going to Texas instead.

That said, I think perhaps the most curious--not to say queer--thing in the whole story is Ennis' complete lack of reaction to something which should have disturbed him deeply. It should have provided him with more ammo for not living together, etc, yet he makes no comment on this admission, nor are we shown any mental reaction or physical gesture which would suggest how he felt. Jack's words seem to drop into an empty well.

I noticed  that once before, R&R-the only thing I can come up with is it is just another example of how easily Ennis denies, shuts things out.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on January 18, 2008, 08:39:53 PM
Remember, though, regarding Annie's word-it is contradicted, on the surface, by some of the other stuff she tells us about-WE too, are applying our own idea of happiness, by assuming it was face to face lovemaking, or whatever...So given that, the only resolution is that she is generalizing on the euphoria-which implies a heightened state,not a day to day reality-and not telling us any details about what actually makes them euphoric, beyond, again 'the sex'-What she does tell us specifically, are the limitations therein, with the sex. So I just don't see how it makes sense to say 'anything goes' with the sex-its the only part she tells us had restrictions! Des made that nice list up of them-I LOVE LISTS.....
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Desecra on January 19, 2008, 12:00:30 AM
Desecra, it is Jack who makes the remark about someone seeing them. I'm not going to quote the fairly lengthy passage, but even though AP does not show the change of speaker from "It scares the piss out of me" (Ennis) to "Got to tell you friend, maybe somebody seen us that summer" (Jack), the second sentence of "Got to tell you" is Jack talking about returning to Brokeback and then "changing his mind" and going to Texas instead.

That said, I think perhaps the most curious--not to say queer--thing in the whole story is Ennis' complete lack of reaction to something which should have disturbed him deeply. It should have provided him with more ammo for not living together, etc, yet he makes no comment on this admission, nor are we shown any mental reaction or physical gesture which would suggest how he felt. Jack's words seem to drop into an empty well.

You're right - I must have misunderstood CSI's post (or whoever it was that I thought said that Ennis said it).     That takes the 'somebody' out of the equation then (as Jack already met Aguirre when he rode up that time). 

Ennis not reacting - I think it may just be because he's already been all through this.   The sex out in the open, in daylight, etc. is something he wouldn't have done if he hadn't been in denial.   Later, when he looks back on it, it's overshadowed by the tire iron - he feels it was more dangerous.  By the time he meets up with Jack again, he knows they took a risk.   Or again - it might have been the person coming up with the message to bring the sheep down which confirms the risk for him.   He already knows they might have been seen.  (Although Annie Proulx mentioned that Aguirre wouldn't have bothered - and when he does see them, nothing bad happens.   But of course, Ennis doesn't know that).   Jack's story also follows on from Ennis saying they can't be decent together - it maybe confirms that for him too.  It then leads in to the punch as if the two are connected ....
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Desecra on January 19, 2008, 12:00:57 AM
Janjo just lost a feline family member, folks...She told me she's not up to posting right now. FYI.

I'm sorry about your loss, Janjo.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on January 19, 2008, 07:26:04 AM
It's true, Ennis could have already wizened himself up to the danger they may have been in; sometimes this does get over-thunk. But I like the idea of him just whizzing by Jack's comment, and the enormity of it's implication. Think also, if they were spotted way the hell out in the middle of nowhere-and Jack tells Ennis this, is it because Ennis has no proof, and thinks Jack is being overblown? (pardon the expression  ;)) He knows Jack is a bit of a blowhard, right?? And he is reactionary, too.....
Here's a more burning question, IMO: Why does Jack mention this? Is he trying to say someone knew about it  and nothing happened, so relax? It seems like it might be a lead-in to Jack's offer of the C&C, ie, the world is not as dangerous as you think, Ennis. I think they, as two males, understand the codes, or the unspoken thoughts, better than a woman would....the fears are different. A woman is not paranoid about appearing manly enough.....Somehow AP understands this coded stuff very well, as  many men have implied here.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on January 19, 2008, 07:30:53 AM
You know as I think of it, Jack will tell Ennis they may have been seen, but not that they WERE seen, and he won't mention the comment about stemming the rose-so clearly we know its about anal sex, because Jack doesn't bring it up; if it were benign, ie, you guys just goofed off all the time; he'd mention it, probably. So much for the argument had many moons ago that stemmin the rose doesn't mean-stemming the rose....

So he implied they MAY have been seen, but does not confirm they WERE seen and seen going at it. So Jack is totally manipulating this portion of the convo-he is downplaying the risk factor, while concealing the ACTUAL risk. He knows intuitively to avoid THE TOPIC itself, as Ennis seems to avoid it, by not responding to Jack's comment about 'maybe' being seen. He just won't go there....Jack is very good at reading people, but Ennis is a bit complicated.

...this probably belongs in the Reunion thread.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: janjo on January 19, 2008, 09:04:38 AM
Janjo just lost a feline family member, folks...She told me she's not up to posting right now. FYI.

I'm sorry about your loss, Janjo.

Thank you so much for that, Des. It is lovely to know you are thinking of us.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Ministering angel on January 19, 2008, 06:31:03 PM
My sympathies too, Jess. I know what it feels like.

CSI, I've often puzzled over Jack telling Ennis. It strikes me that he's walking a fine line between, as you say, telling Ennis the world won't fall down on them, and scaring the bejesus out of him. Ennis says that he's scared about them acting as they did outside the apartment, i.e. hugging and kissing, and Jack seemingly plays with fire by saying to this paranoid man, no worries, we've maybe been spotted before. Yet he doesn't mention the sex.

Question:  why is Ennis less freaked out by a suggestion that he may have been seen having sex with Jack than he is about the possibility of being seen hugging and kissing?
Answer (IMHO): because sex is just sex, and he can always explain it away, but love is another matter entirely. That is downright queer. He held a man in his arms, kissed him passionately and called him little darlin? Ye gods. That takes a lot of selftalk to get over. He needs the full complement of a wife and kids to handle that one.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on January 19, 2008, 08:27:41 PM
Good point!...uh-oh: this makes me think, how did Aguirre let them pass, when he watched them for 10 minutes? Was that coincidentally the ONLY time they did not do certain things that they did the rest of the time? Lucky kids...Had Aquirre seen what you described, like Ennis, it would take it from the realm of the expedient poke into something else altogether-keep in mind, he watched them for 10 minutes that day..
Hmmm...I think he would've sent them down much sooner, and perhaps a bashing would've been awaiting them....The fact of the intercourse was bad enough for Aguirre.

Now I think I know why AP let us know it was for 10 minutes. Put it on your list, Des!!!

 ;D ;D ;)
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: royandronnie on January 19, 2008, 08:49:10 PM

 Jack's story also follows on from Ennis saying they can't be decent together - it maybe confirms that for him too. 

You know, that's kind of interesting. I wonder if Jack's admission that Aguirre seemed to him to have known was supposed to be a reassurance to Ennis that he shouldn't worry about the consequences of being seen? This is before the Earl story, though. But that's another thing I've always found strange--that Jack, who did a good bit of lying to Ennis, would volunteer something as disturbing as that to Mr. "Ain't no Queer." Is this Jack trying to deepen the trust between them? But he's already lied about "other guys." It puzzles me.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: wintersweet on January 19, 2008, 10:38:44 PM
As AP stated before that the sheep operation owners would sent herders out in pairs so they could take care of their needs in case. I think Aguirre was used to the happening of sex between his herders. I don't think Aguirre would be the threat to E and J. Aguirre was rather unsatisfied with E and J's herding work (let the dog watch the sheep) than their having sex, imo.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on January 20, 2008, 07:01:07 AM
Wintersweet, hi:

Agreed. Yes, she did. The expedient poke was acceptable...its not about two men being in love; its about lonliness and horniness-and that is understood and accepted by men. And in that situation, the poking is expected...it happens in ANY environment where men are stuck together with no access to women for long periods. This is pretty well known..

I'll explain my pov on this with a bit more detail:

The Reunion passion and tenderness would not fall under this expedient, casual category- and that is why two things don't happen with regard to the time on BBM:

1)Aguirre doesn't freak when he sees them-for 10 MINUTES-he's probably seen it before,
and
2) Ennis doesn't freak over Jack's telling him they might've been seen. He should have been much more paranoid, if they were doing what he tells Jack scares him: 'if what happened back there [at the apt] grabs on us, etc.' Why wasn't he worried on BBM,once Jack told him Aguirre visited with the news of Uncle Harold, and he knew they were not indeed invisible? How could he not think 4 years earlier that what they did was scary then, but somehow, think it now, after the Reuniion session? And how could he go forward with it, on BBM, all summer, knowing they were alone up there-AND could be seen? I think that is AP's point about Ennis's denial. This removes the possibility that anything goes because they thought themselves invisible....once Aguirre makes his presence known, Ennis knew they were not.

See, Jack is trying to connect BBM with the Reunion, somehow.....because for him, he KNEW how he felt about Ennis. Ennis did not-its a major revelation to him.  And with the advancement of the lovemaking in BBM, Jack is now even more frustrated, since he assumes at first Ennis is now acting like a man in love-like Jack. But, what Jack didn't know and Ennis explains is,  now he is scared, and the shaky ground he built for himself-married, with children, once subconsciously, now solidified, after not being attracted to anyone knew for 4 years-puts him in alien territory: How does he define how he feels NOW, upon feeling the hot jolt scalding him? And how does he control himself, so what happened at the Reunion, for the first time, does not happen where they could be seen?  Cuz he admits he did not know for a year how he felt-it all fits and I thank Marian for filling in the missing puzzle piece.

So it makes perfect sense he'd not be too bothered by Jack's revelation that they may have been seen on BBM-Because back then, Ennis did not associate what they did with love. And he 'acted' accordingly-quick and rough, not 'Lil darlin'.

Mini hit the target, I think. And it also explains why AP had Aguirre watch them for so long, with so minor a reaction, as glaring at Jack.... Clearly, what happened back there at the apt, didn't happen before, or Ennis would be saying something else, not 'IF' what happened, happens again...actually, if that were the case, they still would not have not been bashed the second time, so maybe Ennis would feel less worried!  ;)

 
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: 123bbm on January 20, 2008, 04:18:35 PM
Quote
This removes the possibility that anything goes because they thought themselves invisible....once Aguirre makes his presence known, Ennis knew they were not.

show me  in the story or film  where Ennis knew Aguirre watched them before Jack told him. I can't find it. maybe I'm missing your point. I removed my second question becasue I found the answer in a thread that was closed and do not want to start a banned controvery. Sorry!! :-[
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Ministering angel on January 20, 2008, 04:57:33 PM
I think what CSI was saying is that Ennis may have known that Aguirre came up to tell Jack about his uncle. He clearly didn't know (and neither did Jack) about the 10 minute perv until later.

Yet when he DOES find out that Aguirre (or "someone") saw them - and Jack makes it pretty clear to him that it was Aguirre - he is unphased. Not a hint of worry. Aguirre lived in the same small town as Ennis's brother, and Ennis later returned to work there, so he wasn't worried about lingering gossip. Why not? The only explanation I can see is that, as far as he was concerned, nothing they did in daylight in the open on Brokeback was worthy of a tire iron. It was expedient poking, the sort of stuff that randy men in isolated situations have been doing since sex was invented.

The August night, and the DE, with their undertones of something far softer than just sex, were under cover of darkness.

On the last afternoon Ennis, with his uncommonly quick reflexes, does not react to a knee in the nose but when Jack ministers he's knocked out cold.

So Ennis is okay about being seen for ten whole minutes. It would not have mattered which ten minutes Aguirre watched because Ennis knew there was nothing to see which couldn't be easily explained away as rampaging gonads finding expedient relief.

But hugging and kissing outside his apartment - that cannot be explained away. They "can't hardly be decent" doing that sort of thing. If that carries on, it can only happen way the hell out the back of nowhere. That is too much like love and affection, the sort of stuff that Jack was demonstrating when he got laid out in the wild columbine.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: royandronnie on January 20, 2008, 06:25:41 PM
MinAngel and CSI,

Well, your idea is thought-provoking, that Ennis didn't react to hearing that "somebody" might have seen them on BB, because what they did on BB was explainable. I wonder, though. If Ennis' dad had been the one with the binos, would he have laughed it off?

I think it was only okay as long as the wrong men didn't catch them. I wonder if Ennis' complete lack of reaction is not simply, or at least partly, denial. The idea that "it was okay because it was just sex" is a good one, but I don't think it's complete, anyway. I wonder if Ennis' instinctive reaction is not to go "la la la I am not listening to you you did not say that." It would not be something he wanted to hear. Because we know that however long it REALLY took him to realize he really cared about Jack, he DID know on that mountain that there was more going on than just sex: "In a disquieting way, everything seemed mixed." And "Ennis felt he was in a slow-motion, but headlong, irreversible fall." Oh, he knew something, all right. I make no claims as to what. But the awareness started a long time before "about a year."

Also, while Aguirre may have had some understanding about what two guys got up to on the mountain, I doubt he told the boys. And don't you think that if Ennis had known, with his background, he would never have gone up there in the first place? His reactions to Earl are knee-jerk: avoid this at all costs. Up alone on the mountain, he relaxes BECAUSE they are alone. And because his desire for Jack, AS Jack, is too strong to overcome once made overt. No, I think that there might have been some degree of understanding among grown men that when it's just guys for a long time, things happen. But it's still not something the average guy is going to volunteer. Back then, those who had done it would have known, and those who are always on the lookout for such behavior would have suspected it, but I don't think anyone who knew was talking. It could not have been general knowledge, or accepted practice. Good grief, the gov't would have shut down such a potentiator for perversion! Don't you think?

And I think that Aguirre's watching them is meant to seem slimy, if not a warning or foreshadowing. He doesn't even have to be gay. He is intruding, stealing something from them. It doesn't matter if he doesn't do anything. Perhaps it's a way of suggesting they never were as hidden as they thought. But Jack has sex with numerous guys while in rodeo--if he "wasn't rolling his own" even if you accept there's got to be some exaggeration in that statement, it suggests he got gay sex pretty regularly--and nothing ever happens to him. Another interesting lacuna.

Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on January 20, 2008, 06:58:09 PM
Char, I don't see a flaw in Mini's proposal, not one, really.

Aguirre as slimy? Sure but what does that have to do with him not reacting much to lovey-dovey stuff? 10 minutes-and the sex was quick and rough according to AP. We are meant to think he saw  pretty much one whole session-If an average is 20 minutes, and this was quick and rough-there you go, half it. And he didn't stroke out. So clearly, it was man/man expedient sex; nothing he would have thought was queer. Do we now say Aguirre would be ok seeing what we saw at the Reunion? come on.....

The idea of the 'wrong' guy seeing them-that's interesting, but it is extraneous to the story, I think. I think the info is contained within-the characters we need for Ennis to do battle with are there, either in his head or in his life. So Aguirre is the one-he is the guy from Sage, on BBM, and there is no way to explain away how Ennis had to have been told by Jack that his Uncle had pneuomonia by Aguirre-but he STILL continues to have sex with Jack, knowing its possible to get caught.  And it takes a trauma-the bloody nose and the ministering to do that in the end..where was it with the idea of being SEEN? There is no fear on Ennis's part-not because he has no risk of being seen-that's over with when AGuirre shows up-but he will not be seen as queer. He will be seen as an expedient poker. ;)

I see you are arguing the year later-but why? AP tells us when AJ was born; Ennis's comment is tied to that time-the sucking and the squalling of the baby recalls the squalling of Jack's harmonica...Why is this point so heatedly argued? It always puzzles me... Does it really not follow? I think it's quite clever and both the author and Ennis agree on it..again, why is he lying as he lays pouring his heart out to jack, naked in bed? Is he also lying about how he feels about Jack? Can that be a lie, then? If we pick and choose, it has to fit in with the rest of the story, doesn't it? Not knowing for a year fits in with his denial-it doesn't really fit with anything else, because if he knew how he felt on BBM, or upon leaving-he'd have behaved somewhat differently. We would not have exactly the same turn-out as we do, I don't think.

Again, i think Mini has produced IMO, of course, an airtight finding that tells me ever more that Ennis was in denial, and prevented them from doing anything that would take him out of it; and there is no way Aguirre would have let the kind of passion we see in the Reunion go by without doing someting about it, or saying something about-the most he can muster is, 'you boys screwed up, spent too much time away from the sheep ,etc, etc.' He never actually calls him queer......

In addition, one of the main arguments here has been that Ennis could do ANYTHING because he had no fears of being seen....now its clear, if he was doing what has been imagined, he WOULD be very scared, once he knew Aguirre made trips up to see them. The argument no longer stands, in that light.

I know I sound maybe too certain... It clicked into place for me with Mini's point.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Desecra on January 20, 2008, 11:21:02 PM
They already knew they could be seen, I think - Aguirre told them to pack up the higher camp every day because people were snooping about.   And there are the constant reminders of people (lights, barking dogs, etc.).   They always knew that they could be seen, I think - they just believed themselves 'invisible'.  I do think that needs to be questioned, because Ennis never feels like that again - and I do think the restrictions and the denial were what allowed him to feel that way.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on January 20, 2008, 11:34:24 PM
They already knew they could be seen, I think - Aguirre told them to pack up the higher camp every day because people were snooping about.   And there are the constant reminders of people (lights, barking dogs, etc.).   They always knew that they could be seen, I think - they just believed themselves 'invisible'.  I do think that needs to be questioned, because Ennis never feels like that again - and I do think the restrictions and the denial were what allowed him to feel that way.

I must've missed that..he told them to put the fire out in case the forest service snoops around, no?  They have to come DOWN to the bridge-no one else is expected actually in their camp, but yes, the forest service could show up on the allotment where the sheep are-but that's no risk, because J and E are separated, one in camp, one with the sheep.

My point is that Aguirre doesn't react much when he DOES see them; and now that you mention it, if there were an idea they could be seen at ANY time, that actually does reinforce the denial even more.  :) No way could Ennis proceed if he was doing anything q.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Desecra on January 20, 2008, 11:38:23 PM
Yes, he said to roll up the tent too.   They knew from the beginning that the forest service could be around - presumably all over the place, not just at the higher camp. 
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on January 20, 2008, 11:48:40 PM
That makes the argument even stronger...I think in the beginning, Ennis had no idea what would happen between them, so being seen was a non-issue; so he must get around it, like he does the rest of their relationship, once it starts and the potential for getting caught-esp by the boss-exists..
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Ministering angel on January 21, 2008, 12:13:15 AM
If he knew at the start that they might be seen but went ahead with it anyway, he certainly was not stressed by what they did. If he knew but had been worried but went ahead while feeling worried, then finding out later that they HAD been seen should cause a reaction. It doesn't. This homophobic and fearful man knew the Forest Service might be around (and the Game and Fish in the film) yet he believed himself invisible because it suited him to think that. And when he found out they hadn't been invisible -- nothing, no big deal. Because he wasn't queer, according to his view of things.

Thanks for the Forest Service reminder, des. It's hard to keep all the balls in the air sometimes (as Jack Twist said to the Mexican hooker)  ;)
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on January 21, 2008, 07:10:37 AM
Makes sense...I know it seems a stretch, sometimes, but the expedient poke was an inspiration to AP-it is critical to Ennis's denial-its the source of the way the sexuality plays out between them on BBM. Ennis tells himself what he needs to-and it fits with not knowing, being innocent of his feelings, or maybe thinking the feelings evolved into something else in Jack's absence. That is a path we can't chart, except to say Ennis's awareness was not there until the first baby came along.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: janjo on January 21, 2008, 11:22:51 AM


The no “face to face” thing has for me a further connotation that has not occurred to me until recently. Please don’t worry mods; this is not about “kissing” quite the reverse.
We realize that Ennis could not “face” Jack because at that moment he did not want to feel it was Jack he held. What we have not properly considered is the importance of Jack coming face to face with Ennis at that time. That is the DE looked at from Jack’s point of view.
I see now that this not coming “face to face” is crucial to Jack in his understanding of that embrace.
The DE is Jack’s supreme moment; because that is the time he was most accepted and loved by Ennis.
Why is this so when I would contend that they have been having the time of their lives?
I would suggest that it is the quality of the embrace, and that it echoes parental acceptance of the kind that Jack never got from his father.
If Ennis had been “face to face” with Jack then this quality would be at worst completely lost, or at best confused with other more sexual feelings.
That is not the purpose of this scene IMO.
I go back again to a quote I have made before from Frank Morse in “Farm Boys” by Will Fellows, and published by the University of Wisconsin.
In speaking of his father he says,

“I wanted to have him recognize my performance, and my achievements, but it never happened. In High School he never attended my football games, track, wrestling or plays. He never said ‘You’ve done a good job, or ‘Thanks for doing that,’ or ‘I’m proud of you’.
Part of my yearning to be with a man is a yearning for that kind of recognition.”


This I think demonstrates what Jack was looking for from Ennis apart from the love, the sex and the companionship.
He wanted to find that quality of sexless, artless love that was denied him by his father. This is why the DE supersedes in Jack’s mind, the motel reunion, the Jack “fuckin’ Twist” moment and the rest of the time of “Paradise Gained” that they found on Brokeback Mountain.
To achieve this emotion Jack has to have the feeling of the embrace and love from Ennis, but also to know that he has finally gained acceptance from a man who in some senses could be, or could be said to represent, his father.
This is the kind of acceptance that a child has, or should have from its parents, not asking or demanding anything, other than a pure, non sexual, undemanding love, that is the foundation of all truly secure personalities.


Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on January 21, 2008, 11:33:19 AM
yes, J, this echoes convos we had way back then..I do agree that it is a parental love he is missing, which is triggered by the sexlessness of the embrace-its all tied in with Jack being accepted as a person, not just used as a lover.  Parental love is theoretically unconditional, total, about the person, not what the person can do or how attractive they are....The exact reasoning you state about Jack not being able to keep the illusion of being loved unconditionally f/f,if I follow you,  is the same reasoning for Ennis not being able to face him: Ennis would KNOW it was a man he held, and that illusion that he is no doing something queer, would not stand, either. Not sure I'd see Jack not deliberately turning around- I think though, what motivates Jack to stay still, is he has capitulated control to Ennis early on, offering himself: Being butted up against Ennis was an ok to go ahead-as it did go, for the rest of the summer. So he doesn't dare alter the conditions that have allowed Ennis to do the dozy embrace-He is in charge, and Jack leaves it be, hoping perhaps, for more.

And if you follow that thru, Ennis would then be likely to have an association of the DE with his own infant daugther, with the rocking and the lullaby; and in the prologue, another DE: Ennis being rocked inside the trailer-the shirts, shuddering in the draft. (Alma shudders when Ennis brings her off....)

Sex and Love have finally become one for him and  it = Jack.

There is a nifty pattern of echoes with the DE throughout the story-its THE moment that defines the relationship.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Desecra on January 21, 2008, 11:50:50 AM
I would suggest that it is the quality of the embrace, and that it echoes parental acceptance of the kind that Jack never got from his father.
If Ennis had been “face to face” with Jack then this quality would be at worst completely lost, or at best confused with other more sexual feelings.

The first sentence, yes.   The second sentence - that's not quite how Jack seems to recall it.   He sees the lack of face to face as negative not a positive - maybe they didn't get much farther.   Ennis didn't want to see or feel him.    He doesn't see it as something that enhanced the DE.   It was only something which allowed the DE. 

I do agree that having the DE in that position (if you believe that they were literally in that position) helped to avoid sexual feelings - that's why I think it happens that way.   Ennis really is avoiding seeing and feeling and Jack.    However, I don't think Jack is anti  the sex - he's happy to have the sex but also wants the acceptance.   He's looking for parental, accepting love, but doesn't need the relationship to be non-sexual.   The only time Ennis can show that acceptance is back on Brokeback when the sex is restricted and he doesn't see them as lovers but as close friends. 

It's not better because it's not face to face.   In fact, Jack sees that as something that might be expected to mar it.   If you imagine a face to face DE - would it really be any less satisfying?   Less accepting?   Even if it led to sex?   I don't think so.  Parents don't always avoid being face to face when cuddling their children - it's possible to show parental love and acceptance whilst being face to face.

What allows Ennis to do the DE is his denial.   And what allows his denial is the restrictions.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: janjo on January 21, 2008, 12:18:54 PM
I am not trying to say that Jack saw it as a good thing that they weren't face to face, rather that it was necessary for the author to make the point that Jack connected the embrace with the parental love that Jack never had, at least from his father.
If they had kissed face to face AT THAT POINT then that illusion could have been destroyed.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Desecra on January 21, 2008, 01:16:27 PM
What Ennis is showing isn't really an illusion, though - it's what he really feels for Jack.   The illusion is there's nothing 'queer' about it, that they're just friends.   I think what's showing the 'parental' aspect is Ennis using a phrase from his childhood - he's speaking to Jack the way a parent would speak to a child.  That's what it brought it to mind for me, rather than the positioning itself, because parents often embrace children face to face.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: janjo on January 21, 2008, 03:50:13 PM
But don't you think a lover face to face is more likely to be interpreted by the receiver of the embrace as a sexual approach?
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: frunner on January 21, 2008, 04:05:48 PM
I thought of the movie actors in the '40s, who were talking to each other while standing un-naturally close, because they ought to be inside the frame, you know?
I do not want to disturb the discussion here, but I remember thinking about the "single column" description in DE as very convenient for filming, and how did she got away with it.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Ministering angel on January 21, 2008, 05:14:19 PM
But don't you think a lover face to face is more likely to be interpreted by the receiver of the embrace as a sexual approach?

Not in the case of two men whose only described sex is anal sex from behind. AP keeps her story lines remarkably pure, I think. Even in a general sense I don't agree with your question. With some couples you could say, Yes, with others, No.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Ministering angel on January 21, 2008, 05:41:45 PM
janjo - I think there is some sort of general agreement around these parts that the DE has strong and crucial elements of parental love both given and received. On various threads at various times, I've mentioned Ennis's strong maternal qualities (the only way he knows to give love, through example, since the usual route of man to woman is not going to work for him) and Jack's attachment to Ennis through a desire to "get it right" with his old man (as well as love, of course).

There are odd sensory connections between the DE and the pissing scene, oddly enough. Maybe they are unintentional but they are there. And there is the clear connection between the pissing scene and Ennis's collapse at the end of the argument, when Jack must feel he has blown the chance to ever get it right with Ennis. So he recalls the DE with its promise of acceptance, and understands it ain't goin a be that way.

But back to the DE - the position is a negative for Jack, and we are told why. It has the possibility of marring an otherwise perfect moment. The fact that it doesn't mar his memory, (rather than the embrace itself) shows how important this memory is to Jack, as if we didn't already know. At the time Jack took it as the next step in their progress and was perfectly happy with it.

You are saying, I think, that even if he could have turned to Ennis at that moment, he wouldn't have, because that would have ruined the illusion of parental love. I don't agree. I think if he knew he could do it, he might very well have turned to Ennis and still retained the sexlessness. Even if it had segued into sex, the intrinsic importance of that first sexless (i.e. loving) embrace would remain.

The point is that neither were doing it as foreplay, as a means to an end. The sexlessness was an end in itself. If it progressed naturally into something else, that would have been okay. Ennis may often have come up behind Jack and held him as a prelude to sex, but this time was completely different, and Jack knew that. This was, in a way, Ennis's restrictions defeating him - he had his physical restriction - no f2f - but couldn't stop the feelings of love anyway (although I don't think he saw it that way; I think he just got caught up in his own happy memories and was oblivious to the significance of what he was doing - I think this might require a whole new post so I won't go on).

Jack would have turned if he could have, I suspect, because he understood the big picture much better than Ennis. He didn't have to separate out his feelings. He wanted a lover who would love him completely, as brother, father, lover, friend, soulmate. Ennis had to separate out the different elements - Jack was the best friend that he also happened to fuck.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Ministering angel on January 21, 2008, 05:50:54 PM
I thought of the movie actors in the '40s, who were talking to each other while standing un-naturally close, because they ought to be inside the frame, you know?
I do not want to disturb the discussion here, but I remember thinking about the "single column" description in DE as very convenient for filming, and how did she got away with it.

That single column is such a powerful image. The two as one, just as the shirts are later found to be. And it works so well on film, almost as if AP had seen it in that medium (although I'm sure she didn't). We can have two beautiful faces in a tight shot, without anything much having to happen. No wonder Ang Lee echoed it in the motel, and contrasted it with the first Alma/Ennis sex scene.

I think that because it has connections with love on various planes (parental, friend, sexual) we can all identify with the emotions when we see stills of it. We go Ahhhh! automatically.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: royandronnie on January 21, 2008, 06:47:12 PM
Aguirre as slimy? Sure but what does that have to do with him not reacting much to lovey-dovey stuff? 10 minutes-and the sex was quick and rough according to AP. We are meant to think he saw pretty much one whole session. And he didn't stroke out. So clearly, it was man/man expedient sex; nothing he would have thought was queer. Do we now say Aguirre would be ok seeing what we saw at the Reunion? come on.....

Then why did he deliver the news of UH's recovery "fixing Jack with his bold stare" and "not bothering to dismount?" It doesn't sound to me as though he was completely cool with it, either. He was at least patronizing, at most contemptuous.

The thing is that Aguirre watched the entire act, certainly most of it and the end. "…watched them through his 10x42 binos for ten minutes one day, waiting until they'd buttoned up…" How polite of him, not to interrupt or embarrass his hired hands at their expedient sex. He was being a voyeur. We are meant to react negatively to his intrusion on their privacy--he enjoyed the show, then waited so they wouldn't know he'd been watching--because watching could also be construed as queer.

Different men in the story react to them in different ways, all negative, but only Ennis' father is seen as dangerously homophobic. There may be a message here, too--as you say below, Ennis' demons are there in his head by BB: that while the danger is real, Ennis makes it worse than it is.

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The idea of the 'wrong' guy seeing them-that's interesting, but it is extraneous to the story, I think.

Do you? I don't. Ennis has no way of knowing what kind of guy is going to see them. Not a good risk to take.

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I think the info is contained within-the characters we need for Ennis to do battle with are there, either in his head or in his life. So Aguirre is the one-he is the guy from Sage, on BBM, and there is no way to explain away how Ennis had to have been told by Jack that his Uncle had pneuomonia by Aguirre-but he STILL continues to have sex with Jack, knowing its possible to get caught.  And it takes a trauma-the bloody nose and the ministering to do that in the end..where was it with the idea of being SEEN? There is no fear on Ennis's part-not because he has no risk of being seen-that's over with when AGuirre shows up-but he will not be seen as queer. He will be seen as an expedient poker. ;)

I do understand what you're saying. But nobody was sitting up there parsing whether it was queer sex or okay sex. The concept of being queer wasn't one Ennis had closely examined at 19. I'm sure of that. (Four years later, faced with the knowledge that he loved Jack, he had bolstered himself with this "I'm STILL not queer" idea.) There were two kinds of sex--with women, and queer. Mansex=queer=dead. Earl was a horror that simply shut down any intellectual examinations or exceptions he might have made into the question of whether it was okay to have sex with a man under any conditions. The problem was that then he found himself in a situation where he discovered, by accident and with the help of booze and a late hour, that he wanted to have sex with a man. It's certainly not irrelevant that their first encounter is from behind, but it also serves to emphasize Ennis' tendency to dominate, and the sudden, almost unavoidable aspect of the encounter. They were pulled together like magnets. There's no reason it couldn't have been f2f, leaving Ennis' denials aside for the moment, but artistically, the savage quality of it does show the passion that overcame Ennis' fears and loathing and the immature quality of their early relationship as well as hinting that Ennis even in the throes of passion had some reservations about the whole thing.

Again, not being a man, I don't know--would all fours be the default position, the one that would first be chosen? That's not an irrelevant consideration either, but I suspect the answer would vary. Certainly it is a position that gives Ennis tremendous power, which is also relevant. He is setting the pace.

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I see you are arguing the year later-but why? AP tells us when AJ was born; Ennis's comment is tied to that time-the sucking and the squalling of the baby recalls the squalling of Jack's harmonica...Why is this point so heatedly argued? It always puzzles me... Does it really not follow?


It isn't that it doesn't follow. I'm not saying it didn't take a year for Ennis to ADMIT, to allow himself to understand, what was really wrong. I'm just saying that "everything seemed mixed" and "headlong fall" show quite clearly that Ennis was AWARE of emotional turmoil with regard to Jack, and what they had been doing, long before a year. This is before the dry heaves, too: he was already sick.

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Not knowing for a year fits in with his denial-it doesn't really fit with anything else, because if he knew how he felt on BBM, or upon leaving-he'd have behaved somewhat differently. We would not have exactly the same turn-out as we do, I don't think.

Why not? I would call hauling off and belting your best friend/lover over an accidental nosebleed and the aftermath, and then pretending like nothing happened, ESSENTIAL denial. Because if you admit even to yourself that something was wrong enough to cause that punch, you admit there is a real problem. And Ennis was busy deciding it was food poisoning.

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Again, i think Mini has produced IMO, of course, an airtight finding that tells me ever more that Ennis was in denial, and prevented them from doing anything that would take him out of it; and there is no way Aguirre would have let the kind of passion we see in the Reunion go by without doing someting about it, or saying something about-the most he can muster is, 'you boys screwed up, spent too much time away from the sheep ,etc, etc.' He never actually calls him queer......

In addition, one of the main arguments here has been that Ennis could do ANYTHING because he had no fears of being seen....now its clear, if he was doing what has been imagined, he WOULD be very scared, once he knew Aguirre made trips up to see them. The argument no longer stands, in that light.

I know I sound maybe too certain... It clicked into place for me with Mini's point.

Ah, but there's denial, and there's denial. You and MinAngel make, for me, too fine a point; that as long as Ennis restricted the hell out of everything, it was okay if ANYBODY saw it, just two horny men doing what they needed to do. I think that Ennis shut down any thinking the moment he woke up in the red dawn and saw what he had done.And we must not forget that the trigger for the punch is not only the bloody nose, but also the knowledge, forced on him by the early recall before he's finished building the nice neat little box in which it would have been put away forever, that he's been having sex with a man. If all these restrictions made him so comfortable with the sex, then why would the bloody nose and a bit of wiping with a sleeve bother him? Because some part of him knows IN THAT MOMENT that it wasn't expedient, no matter what they didn't do. Because some part of him knows IN THAT MOMENT that he feels something "wrong." As long as he could pretend no one knew, no one saw, it was okay. He wasn't cool at all with being seen, he simply chose not to believe he could be seen. MUCH easier to believe nobody saw you, or could see you, than to parse what seeing you might mean. Girls don't think they're going to get pregnant. Boys don't believe they're going to have problems driving drunk. These are blanket denials, made by inexperience. When you're nineteen, you're bulletproof. You can believe ten impossible things before breakfast. Ennis didn't worry about being seen because he didn't believe anyone saw them. The door is still wide open. If you're going to fit his behavior into what's written, don't forget these words either:

"There were only the two of them on the mountain, flying in the euphoric, bitter air…suspended above ordinary affairs… They believed themselves invisible…"
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Ministering angel on January 21, 2008, 07:02:16 PM
~snip!  It's certainly not irrelevant that their first encounter is from behind, but it also serves to emphasize Ennis' tendency to dominate, and the sudden, almost unavoidable aspect of the encounter. They were pulled together like magnets. There's no reason it couldn't have been f2f, leaving Ennis' denials aside for the moment, but artistically, the savage quality of it does show the passion that overcame Ennis' fears and loathing and the immature quality of their early relationship as well as hinting that Ennis even in the throes of passion had some reservations about the whole thing.

Again, not being a man, I don't know--would all fours be the default position, the one that would first be chosen? That's not an irrelevant consideration either, but I suspect the answer would vary. Certainly it is a position that gives Ennis tremendous power, which is also relevant. He is setting the pace.

Where do you see Ennis's tendency to dominate? Do you mean in general or just with Jack? We are told he has a body built for fighting yet we only hear of three fights, and one of them is against a bigger brother.

I would say that all fours is most definitely the default position. Raised on farms, it would be obvious, and I seriously doubt that Ennis would have any concept of f2f anal sex. Where on earth would he get it from? He does Alma from behind too. Nothing sweet about it - he is recreating what he did with Jack.

I don't think he had a choice of positions. I think he would have had but one idea on how to do it.

Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Ministering angel on January 21, 2008, 07:10:14 PM
Ah, but there's denial, and there's denial. You and MinAngel make, for me, too fine a point; that as long as Ennis restricted the hell out of everything, it was okay if ANYBODY saw it, just two horny men doing what they needed to do. I think that Ennis shut down any thinking the moment he woke up in the red dawn and saw what he had done.And we must not forget that the trigger for the punch is not only the bloody nose, but also the knowledge, forced on him by the early recall before he's finished building the nice neat little box in which it would have been put away forever, that he's been having sex with a man. If all these restrictions made him so comfortable with the sex, then why would the bloody nose and a bit of wiping with a sleeve bother him? Because some part of him knows IN THAT MOMENT that it wasn't expedient, no matter what they didn't do. Because some part of him knows IN THAT MOMENT that he feels something "wrong." As long as he could pretend no one knew, no one saw, it was okay. He wasn't cool at all with being seen, he simply chose not to believe he could be seen. MUCH easier to believe nobody saw you, or could see you, than to parse what seeing you might mean. Girls don't think they're going to get pregnant. Boys don't believe they're going to have problems driving drunk. These are blanket denials, made by inexperience. When you're nineteen, you're bulletproof. You can believe ten impossible things before breakfast. Ennis didn't worry about being seen because he didn't believe anyone saw them. The door is still wide open. If you're going to fit his behavior into what's written, don't forget these words either:

"There were only the two of them on the mountain, flying in the euphoric, bitter air…suspended above ordinary affairs… They believed themselves invisible…"

I think most assume that a part of him knew what was going on at some level. That's what denial is about. You can't deny what you don't know. Of course he feels that something is wrong when Jack ministers but that doesn't mean he clearly sees everything as wrong, just that the concept of tenderness between men is wrong. "When they owned the world and nothing seemed wrong" - that's not about the punch but the times before it.

Ennis has had four years to pick up any gossip via his brother, and nothing happened. Why do you think the brother lives in Signal? Why is Ennis not freaked by the idea of being seen? Why is he happy enough to work in Signal again years later?
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: royandronnie on January 21, 2008, 07:58:51 PM
I just had a thought, just interested me--Jack's interpretation of the DE contains the following words: "…in their separate and difficult lives." Even while he is feeling bitter that their relationship did not progress much further than the DE's single moment of unalloyed happiness, he seems here to forgive Ennis, to offer a level of understanding we might not expect from him. "Let be" is something of a turning away, a "cut your losses"--though I don't say I think it is a direct "quit" message--but the previous words suggest Jack understood, however he might have railed about short fucking leashes and HAFs, that Ennis had it hard too.

It's an interesting insight into the innate kindness of his character, I think. Though perhaps it belongs on Jack's Character.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on January 21, 2008, 09:07:45 PM
I just had a thought, just interested me--Jack's interpretation of the DE contains the following words: "…in their separate and difficult lives." Even while he is feeling bitter that their relationship did not progress much further than the DE's single moment of unalloyed happiness, he seems here to forgive Ennis, to offer a level of understanding we might not expect from him. "Let be" is something of a turning away, a "cut your losses"--though I don't say I think it is a direct "quit" message--but the previous words suggest Jack understood, however he might have railed about short fucking leashes and HAFs, that Ennis had it hard too.

It's an interesting insight into the innate kindness of his character, I think. Though perhaps it belongs on Jack's Character.
That may actually be a narrative point, ie, AP telling us their lives apart were difficult-I never saw it as Jack assessing his and Ennis's lives and coming to this conclusion. I think he just drank.
For Jack, it was the shining moment-I think we are being told the broader meaning of it, with regards to the absence of such moments in their own lives.... It was a moment they both shared, from the hunger persprective, which Jack could not know-he could not know it was the same feeling they both had of emotional hunger and not belonging... and I'm kind of glad you brought that up.

I agree that 'let be' is an extraordinary concession made for love-and it is exactly what kills Jack. He absolves Ennis and takes the pain on himself, I think.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Desecra on January 21, 2008, 11:54:46 PM
I just had a thought, just interested me--Jack's interpretation of the DE contains the following words: "…in their separate and difficult lives." Even while he is feeling bitter that their relationship did not progress much further than the DE's single moment of unalloyed happiness, he seems here to forgive Ennis, to offer a level of understanding we might not expect from him. "Let be" is something of a turning away, a "cut your losses"--though I don't say I think it is a direct "quit" message--but the previous words suggest Jack understood, however he might have railed about short fucking leashes and HAFs, that Ennis had it hard too.

It's an interesting insight into the innate kindness of his character, I think. Though perhaps it belongs on Jack's Character.

I agree - I've always thought that he doesn't seem to blame Ennis, as you might expect of somebody in that situation.    Some of that ties into that childhood memory, I think.   He has difficulty seeing him as worthy enough to deserve Ennis's love.  But I think there's also maybe kindness too - he recognises that Ennis can't do it, rather than that he doesn't want to, and that the relationship was bad for him too.  He remembers that maybe 'they' didn't get much farther than that, rather than that Ennis didn't - as though it was a joint endeavour that they both failed at. 
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Desecra on January 22, 2008, 12:08:59 AM
The problem was that then he found himself in a situation where he discovered, by accident and with the help of booze and a late hour, that he wanted to have sex with a man. It's certainly not irrelevant that their first encounter is from behind, but it also serves to emphasize Ennis' tendency to dominate, and the sudden, almost unavoidable aspect of the encounter. They were pulled together like magnets. There's no reason it couldn't have been f2f, leaving Ennis' denials aside for the moment, but artistically, the savage quality of it does show the passion that overcame Ennis' fears and loathing and the immature quality of their early relationship as well as hinting that Ennis even in the throes of passion had some reservations about the whole thing.

I think it's too much of a coincidence that Ennis avoids being face to face both during the FNIT and during the DE.    I don't think it's just about dominance, because what part does that play in the story?   In the added SNIT, the film chose to show Ennis as not particularly sexually dominant - I know that's the film, but still.    He's unusually dominant in the FNIT, but not shown as unusually dominant at other times - to me, he's being shown as having a need to act a certain way in the FNIT, for a certain reason.    There's a reason for them having anal sex in that position, and a reason why we need to know that (rather than being left to imagine it like the rest of their sex). 

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It isn't that it doesn't follow. I'm not saying it didn't take a year for Ennis to ADMIT, to allow himself to understand, what was really wrong. I'm just saying that "everything seemed mixed" and "headlong fall" show quite clearly that Ennis was AWARE of emotional turmoil with regard to Jack, and what they had been doing, long before a year. This is before the dry heaves, too: he was already sick.

He's aware that something's up, but he doesn't consciously know what it is.   Later he thinks that 'nothing seemed wrong' - he wasn't aware.

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If all these restrictions made him so comfortable with the sex, then why would the bloody nose and a bit of wiping with a sleeve bother him?

Because the bloody nose and the blood all over them brings to mind an image of Earl's body, I think.   And then the wiping with the sleeve is close, loving, face to face AND in the context of sex (unlike the DE) and violence (blood, pain, the reminder of Earl).   

Of course, I'd agree that all this was lurking under the surface waiting to blow at some point.   The miracle is that it didn't blow with that first handgrab.   That's because Ennis seems to have instinctively done things that would avoid that thought/feeling surfacing too far.   That starts not with the red dawn, but right at the moment of the handgrab, I think - he feels desire when he touches Jack and instantly makes it NOT about touching Jack's cock.    He avoids knowing.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Desecra on January 22, 2008, 12:18:16 AM
But don't you think a lover face to face is more likely to be interpreted by the receiver of the embrace as a sexual approach?

It could be.   In Jack and Ennis's case, where we see that Ennis was behind Jack during sex, an approach from behind might come across as just as sexual to the receiver. 

For lovers who are happy and comfortable with each other and what you're doing, I don't think you'd tend to see these clear distinctions.   Sometimes sexless embraces will segue into sexual ones, and vice versa.   That acceptance is something that would be expressed from day to day, not as a one off.   There are two big surprises with the DE itself - that Ennis could do it, and that it only happened once.  (And then the later surprises, that Ennis didn't want to see or feel Jack and that they didn't get much farther).    We know that Ennis continued to love Jack, so the puzzle is why he didn't do anything that felt like this to Jack ever again.   I think that comes down to his denial on the mountain (not being face to face, avoiding seeing or feeling Jack) allowing him to do it - Jack is his straight friend.   That's why it's only once, because after Brokeback Ennis knew too much.  That's the killer - this isn't all in Jack's head - Ennis really doesn't accept hiim.   He shows that in the Mexico argument. 
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on January 22, 2008, 03:16:56 AM
I am not trying to say that Jack saw it as a good thing that they weren't face to face, rather that it was necessary for the author to make the point that Jack connected the embrace with the parental love that Jack never had, at least from his father.
If they had kissed face to face AT THAT POINT then that illusion could have been destroyed.
hmmm.....I  don't think Jack needed to favor the parental love over the complete love/sex package that he clearly wanted by asking Ennis to do the C and C later..what I mean is, he craved the feeling of pure, unconditioanl love, not because he wanted it all by itself; but because he did not see, feel it otherwise from Ennis, during the sex only. I'll agree the love part is more important to him, which is why he singles that moment out; but it only is singled out, because he is being forced to choose, because he does not feel the that DE love during sex, on BBM. If he DID, we'd not have the DE as a standout memory.
We'd have some moment when they had sex and Ennis somehow expressed love to Jack and Jack knew it. This does not appear to happen on BBM..and the shocker of the dE at the end, seems to imply, he did not feel it after that; he knew it was there BECAUSE of the DE-but he simply did not feel it , before or after.
That's the whole point of the DE. Its a 'single moment' in Jack's life. And the author is telling us they shared it, for once.

R&R: Now as I think of it, Jack did experience what the author is explaining, because he can't define it: 'some' shared and sexless hunger, so I stand corrected-but I'm not clear myself on how much is Jack and how much is AP, completely. I think most of it is Jack, but I'd wager the objective 'separate and difficult lives' is a narrative statement, wheras the 'single moment' is Jack's.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on January 22, 2008, 03:30:51 AM
But don't you think a lover face to face is more likely to be interpreted by the receiver of the embrace as a sexual approach?

It could be.   In Jack and Ennis's case, where we see that Ennis was behind Jack during sex, an approach from behind might come across as just as sexual to the receiver. 

For lovers who are happy and comfortable with each other and what you're doing, I don't think you'd tend to see these clear distinctions.   Sometimes sexless embraces will segue into sexual ones, and vice versa.   That acceptance is something that would be expressed from day to day, not as a one off.   There are two big surprises with the DE itself - that Ennis could do it, and that it only happened once.  (And then the later surprises, that Ennis didn't want to see or feel Jack and that they didn't get much farther).    We know that Ennis continued to love Jack, so the puzzle is why he didn't do anything that felt like this to Jack ever again.   I think that comes down to his denial on the mountain (not being face to face, avoiding seeing or feeling Jack) allowing him to do it - Jack is his straight friend.   That's why it's only once, because after Brokeback Ennis knew too much.  That's the killer - this isn't all in Jack's head - Ennis really doesn't accept hiim.   He shows that in the Mexico argument. 
RE: bolded: By most lovers, yes...but Jack is accustomed to sex from behind with Ennis....it would be a significant love/sex experience; and we know this because when it is combined, with the ministering by Jack, Ennis's walls are down, and it is likely he sees reflected back what he really feels deep down-because he is looking into Jack's face and vice versa. This is incredibly important, both as character development and plot development. If we miss this point, it alters the entire story-Ennis loses his character motivation-to both ultimately have Jack for 20 years- and be in denial overwhy. The punch seals thier fates. It is the non-lethal version of the tire iron-except indirectly, it IS lethal; Jack's death is tied to it, forever.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on January 22, 2008, 04:18:21 AM
ok, second attempt to leave Themes for good..... :D


'they keep pulling me back IN.....'
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: janjo on January 22, 2008, 11:37:34 AM
But don't you think a lover face to face is more likely to be interpreted by the receiver of the embrace as a sexual approach?

It could be.   In Jack and Ennis's case, where we see that Ennis was behind Jack during sex, an approach from behind might come across as just as sexual to the receiver. 

For lovers who are happy and comfortable with each other and what you're doing, I don't think you'd tend to see these clear distinctions.   Sometimes sexless embraces will segue into sexual ones, and vice versa.   That acceptance is something that would be expressed from day to day, not as a one off.   There are two big surprises with the DE itself - that Ennis could do it, and that it only happened once.  (And then the later surprises, that Ennis didn't want to see or feel Jack and that they didn't get much farther).    We know that Ennis continued to love Jack, so the puzzle is why he didn't do anything that felt like this to Jack ever again.   I think that comes down to his denial on the mountain (not being face to face, avoiding seeing or feeling Jack) allowing him to do it - Jack is his straight friend.   That's why it's only once, because after Brokeback Ennis knew too much.  That's the killer - this isn't all in Jack's head - Ennis really doesn't accept hiim.   He shows that in the Mexico argument. 

If Jack had been able to see Ennis face there would not, however, have been any way that Jack could have confused the love he was receiving as the parental love he had never received from his father. I say "confused" I am not suggesting in any way that he had a delusion that Ennis was his father, but rather a confusion in emotional feeling.
Also, what is said about the DE is "nothing marred it" so Jack was obviously not unhappy about the situation.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Desecra on January 22, 2008, 12:28:46 PM
Nothing marred the DE, not the not being face to face, though.   Ennis's avoidance is something that Jack brings up as something that might have marred the DE but didn't - if he sees it as positive, why would he think of it as something that might mar his happiest moment?  He was unhappy about it - but that memory transcended it. 

If you take away Ennis's homophobia and denial (and end up with no story, of course) then I don't see why Jack would object to him showing that sort of love face to face.    If he could have looked into his eyes in an embrace and seen that parental love and acceptance there, I think he would have treasured that even more than the DE.   I don't see that that would have been a worse experience for him because Ennis's avoidance wasn't there.     It's not that Jack wants Ennis's avoidance - he makes it clear that he sees it as rejection: Ennis did not want to see or feel him.  Why do you think Jack would be happy that Ennis felt that way?   Why would he want that?
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Ministering angel on January 22, 2008, 03:24:32 PM

If Jack had been able to see Ennis face there would not, however, have been any way that Jack could have confused the love he was receiving as the parental love he had never received from his father. I say "confused" I am not suggesting in any way that he had a delusion that Ennis was his father, but rather a confusion in emotional feeling.
Also, what is said about the DE is "nothing marred it" so Jack was obviously not unhappy about the situation.

But, janjo, Jack knew it was Ennis who was holding him, and if we subscribe to the "missing parental love" theory as I do, then Jack also feels in some manner that he is getting that love which his father did not give, getting it from a man who has come to replace Mr T in Jack's eyes. It makes no difference whether Ennis holds him from the front or the back in this respect. Jack knows, or thinks he knows, or feels that he is getting that "missing material" at last. The DE is that moment when, just as their shadows are as one, the two of them complete one another in a way they never do again. Their positioning is irrelevant.

However, later on, when Jack begins to understand the depth of Ennis's problems, he begins to realise why Ennis did it that way, and why he behaved in such a restrictive way on the mountain. At that time he must start to feel the incongruity of his memory - it is so good because he feels he is getting what he needs, yet at the same time it is set up in a certain way because Ennis cannot truly give Jack what he needs., i.e. full acceptance of who and what he is. It's a very cruel arrangement. This is where the positioning becomes crucial, not because of how it makes Jack feel but because it tells us and Jack how Ennis feels, which is the basis of the story.

But Jack lives in hopes until he gets the final proof that Ennis cannot accept him. He reveals the thing he has concealed- his true sexuality - and sees Ennis first threaten him and then collapse. And so he at last understands that the promise of the DE was false. The DE has been fossilised in memory just as the shirts are stiff with long suspension. When he finally takes it out that last time and remembers it again (rather like a security blanket) he understands at last that it was (apparently) based on a fallacy.

Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: mrbluebird on January 23, 2008, 03:14:28 AM

If Jack had been able to see Ennis face there would not, however, have been any way that Jack could have confused the love he was receiving as the parental love he had never received from his father. I say "confused" I am not suggesting in any way that he had a delusion that Ennis was his father, but rather a confusion in emotional feeling.
Also, what is said about the DE is "nothing marred it" so Jack was obviously not unhappy about the situation.

But, janjo, Jack knew it was Ennis who was holding him, and if we subscribe to the "missing parental love" theory as I do, then Jack also feels in some manner that he is getting that love which his father did not give, getting it from a man who has come to replace Mr T in Jack's eyes. It makes no difference whether Ennis holds him from the front or the back in this respect. Jack knows, or thinks he knows, or feels that he is getting that "missing material" at last. The DE is that moment when, just as their shadows are as one, the two of them complete one another in a way they never do again. Their positioning is irrelevant.

However, later on, when Jack begins to understand the depth of Ennis's problems, he begins to realise why Ennis did it that way, and why he behaved in such a restrictive way on the mountain. At that time he must start to feel the incongruity of his memory - it is so good because he feels he is getting what he needs, yet at the same time it is set up in a certain way because Ennis cannot truly give Jack what he needs., i.e. full acceptance of who and what he is. It's a very cruel arrangement. This is where the positioning becomes crucial, not because of how it makes Jack feel but because it tells us and Jack how Ennis feels, which is the basis of the story.

But Jack lives in hopes until he gets the final proof that Ennis cannot accept him. He reveals the thing he has concealed- his true sexuality - and sees Ennis first threaten him and then collapse. And so he at last understands that the promise of the DE was false. The DE has been fossilised in memory just as the shirts are stiff with long suspension. When he finally takes it out that last time and remembers it again (rather like a security blanket) he understands at last that it was (apparently) based on a fallacy.



At this point, after Heath, it may seem odd to defend the Dozy but in that world you have to accept constraints if you want to stay there.  Jack would just need to wait a bit 'til child support was finished, or perhaps make his own hard decisions.  Why not quit his job and move near Ennis?

Perhaps the Dozy is just a brief mirage, and both are not gay enough to stick by it!

Maybe it's all ok, and their time was like a break in the battle in the wretched life of a lonely heart. Then it's back on the train, back on the chain gang.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Ministering angel on January 24, 2008, 07:20:23 AM
That last post of mine was done yesterday. I read it through then decided to modify it. When I hit the Modify button the News Box updated with the news about Heath. Everyone knows how much I love these threads but I won't be back in the foreseeable future. When I do, look out! But until then ..... someone will have to keep the seat warm for me.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Desecra on January 24, 2008, 08:03:05 AM
I look forward to seeing you back again.

I've deleted my last post (don't worry, you didn't miss much).  I feel as if I'm intruding on people's grief here, so I'll bow out for now as well.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Ministering angel on January 24, 2008, 10:49:56 AM
No, never intruding! I just can't wrap my head around literary arguments at present when a real person has died. And yes, I've wept buckets over literary Jack and Ennis, the realest fictional characters I know.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: janjo on January 24, 2008, 11:08:43 AM
Hopefully when the pain eases we will be able to consider the literary Ennis and Jack again. It is a testament to Heath's work that we feel as we do about the character of Ennis del Mar, and if he felt so strongly, maybe we should continue to love Ennis the literary character as a tribute to that great piece of work.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Desecra on January 24, 2008, 12:14:02 PM
Well said, Janjo. 
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: royandronnie on January 30, 2008, 09:41:58 PM
It's been a week and a day, and this is the first time I've even been really curious enough to come in here. I feel like Auden: "Stop all the clocks." Well, that seems to have happened in here.

I have nothing to add either. Except that I just wanted to add something.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Dal on January 31, 2008, 05:46:42 AM
I find I also have no interest in the niceties of fiction at the moment.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: janjo on January 31, 2008, 10:29:38 AM
I feel that I will want to consider fictional matters at some time in the future, after all Ennis del Mar did have a literary life before he met up with the wonderful Mr Ledger, and as a tribute to everything, and everyone that Ennis stood for, and to everyone and everything that Heath Ledger made him stand for, I would like us to continue.

Not yet though.

Apologies for not being present much these last few days. My Broadband has died, and I am left with a very slow dial up connection which I can't use very often. Hopefully normal service will be resumed at some point.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Rosewood on February 08, 2008, 02:49:55 PM
I am in a mood to spout poetry, or at least to share it with someone.
In fact, for reasons that I can't quite intellectualize,
I am getting through this dark time by reading poetry;
bits of Shakespeare and/or anyone else that catches my peripatetic eye.
Somehow I am being comforted.
But I must say that I will NEVER be the same person I was before.

"If you press me to say why I loved him, I can say no more than
it was because he was he and I was I."
                                                       Montaigne

The romantic in me, hell, the whole of me, would love to think that
this is how Jack and Ennis felt all along, but just couldn't elucidate.
In fact, I'm sure that's how they felt. I'm sure this is how a lot of us
feel about Heath Ledger as well.



Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Rosewood on February 08, 2008, 03:16:36 PM
These few words capture those weeks on Brokeback
better than anything else I've ever read in critique or
interpretation. But, in truth, maybe there was too much of this in
Heath Ledger, the restless young actor, and in the end, it is what
did him in. I hope not. Either way, the words soothe me.
Hope they help someone else.

"Two lads that thought there was no more behind
But such a day tomorrow as today,
And to be boy eternal...
...We were as twinn'd lambs that did
frisk i' the sun,
And bleat the one at the other: what
we chang'd
Was innocence for innocence."

from Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: janjo on February 11, 2008, 06:09:43 AM
Or this piercing shard from the "dial up" hell that I find myself in at the moment:

"Golden lads and girls all must, as chimney sweeper's come to dust"

I think it's from Cymbelline. W. Shakespeare anyway.

Just keeps going through my head.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on February 11, 2008, 06:29:49 AM
I am in a mood to spout poetry, or at least to share it with someone.
In fact, for reasons that I can't quite intellectualize,
I am getting through this dark time by reading poetry;
bits of Shakespeare and/or anyone else that catches my peripatetic eye.
Somehow I am being comforted.
But I must say that I will NEVER be the same person I was before.

"If you press me to say why I loved him, I can say no more than
it was because he was he and I was I."
                                                       Montaigne

The romantic in me, hell, the whole of me, would love to think that
this is how Jack and Ennis felt all along, but just couldn't elucidate.
In fact, I'm sure that's how they felt. I'm sure this is how a lot of us
feel about Heath Ledger as well.




If I may, to just twist it a little: "...it was because he was me and I was he." Apologies to Montaigne
It's the same thing that draws us all here-underneath, we are a lot the same.

Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Marcos on February 13, 2008, 07:36:01 PM
they were in synch,completely connected and worlds completely apart just as much...they were both aloof and aware...they deep inside knew what was coming.They were destined to go through all that and they did.One of the greatest love stories of all times.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on February 13, 2008, 07:44:47 PM
So well put, ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Rosewood on February 14, 2008, 01:27:55 PM
they were in synch,completely connected and worlds completely apart just as much...they were both aloof and aware...they deep inside knew what was coming.They were destined to go through all that and they did.One of the greatest love stories of all times.

Yes, absolutely.
"...aloof and aware..." I like that very much.
It would also describe HL and JG in their own realities.

Harry Eyre's comments in (of all things) the London Financial Times, says: "The message of King Lear and Brokeback
Mountain is that we must all have our hearts broken."

(Eyres very effectively compares BBM to Shakespearean tragedy in one of the best, if not THE best review of BBM
AND Heath Ledger's performance I've ever read. For those of you who missed it, the comments are posted over on
Farewell To Heath - sorry, don't know how to do thread-thread link)

Eyre's comments got me to thinking that in BBM, it is possible that we're ALL waiting for Ennis Del Mar's
heart to break. And when it finally does, in the end, in that spare room, in that desolate farmhouse, we get
some measure of satisfaction. Yes, you fool, LOVE was what it was all about.

This is the beauty of HL's performance, he makes us weep, he makes us angry, he makes us review everything
we thought we knew about love and heartbreak and despair.
And finally, he makes us FEEL everything for a man for whom 'depth and/or display of emotion' was anathema.
We take on the aspects of Alma and Jack and Cassie and everyone else who fell for Ennis and wondered why
he could not reciprocate.

Eyres says that for whatever reason, Ennis is one of those characters who is 'opaque' to himself.
So beautifully understood.


Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Ministering angel on February 21, 2008, 11:18:18 PM
Satisfaction?? Rosewood, it's not a word I would have used to describe my feelings at that moment! Far from it.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Rosewood on February 22, 2008, 02:51:37 PM
Satisfaction?? Rosewood, it's not a word I would have used to describe my feelings at that moment! Far from it.

I hoped I was being ironic.
Perhaps I also meant the perverse 'satisfaction' of being proven right.
We KNOW all along, and very smugly too, that what Ennis is feeling/fighting/refusing is LOVE.
Love, dammit.
If he finds even a measure of it in that bleak farmhouse bedroom, then yes, I'd say I found some
'satisfaction' in just knowing that FINALLY, Ennis sees a measure of truth and FINALLY, has arrived
at a moment of acceptance.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Ministering angel on February 24, 2008, 04:27:38 AM
Satisfaction?? Rosewood, it's not a word I would have used to describe my feelings at that moment! Far from it.

I hoped I was being ironic.
Perhaps I also meant the perverse 'satisfaction' of being proven right.
We KNOW all along, and very smugly too, that what Ennis is feeling/fighting/refusing is LOVE.
Love, dammit.
If he finds even a measure of it in that bleak farmhouse bedroom, then yes, I'd say I found some
'satisfaction' in just knowing that FINALLY, Ennis sees a measure of truth and FINALLY, has arrived
at a moment of acceptance.


You see, I'd disagree with "smugly" too. I could never pass any sort of judgment in any form whatsoever on Ennis at this point. His pain is too real and too overwhelming that all I can do is feel it right along with him. I can't place myself above or apart from him. It wasn't his fault he had the conditioning he had. It's just too cruel to judge him IMO.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Rosewood on March 03, 2008, 02:34:52 PM
Not sure it this post belongs here or on Symbols and whatever, but I'll take
a chance and begin here and then we'll see what develops - if anything.

Garyd and I were dishing on a piece from TNY in that thread and got onto
the improbability or not of either Jack or Ennis having discussions on the phone
with either of their grown children HAD Jack NOT died when he did OR had
Ennis died instead.

Anyway, Gary said something about how neither character ever felt 'safe' enough
to be the kind of person to have the kind of phone call we'd been talking about and
that got me thinking about the depth of Ennis's fears and Jack's lack of self-acceptance
and base fear that his father was right about him: he could never do anything
right - a self-fullfilling prophecy if there ever was one.

Okay, so here's the thing:
And I am prepared for outrage, but honestly, I'm not putting Ennis down,
I'm just having a closer look at him. From a slightly different point of view,
perhaps.

What if, in the end, after all the heartbreak and loss and discovery of truth,
what IF part of what Ennis feels is SAFETY. He is, at long last, safe.
Jack's death = safety from harm for Ennis.
Safe from his own desires. His need for Jack.
His inability to control 'this thing' that happens between them.

SAFE from being found out and destroyed, as the rancher was.
What if Jack's death comes as some sort of relief for Ennis?
Yes, he's crushed by sadness and heartache, but might not there be
just the littlest spark of relief? Unacknowledged, unwanted but
there, nonetheless?

All I'm saying is: it would not surprise me.
And this, of course, only adds to the tragedy.
Makes it that much more horrible.

As for Jack, it would not surprise me if, on some level he gives Ennis what
he [Ennis] wants, by dying. Or at least, allowing himself to get careless enough
to bring on death. In some measure, bringing Ennis peace.
Finally 'getting something right.'

I don't know if we've ever discussed this before. Don't remember if we did.
But this is something that Gary's words brought to mind for me.
So blame him.  ;)




Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on March 03, 2008, 05:10:43 PM
We've discussed the loss of threat to Ennis with  Jack's death; he is safe to feel the love and grief. I think you are spot on, and it would be totally outside his control..

I'm not sure I'd go with 'relief'-I think the grief and loss outweighs the relief. Even years later, he is still in 'desolation' as AP put it. I speculated with Marian that the prologue represents the kind of healing where you wake up one morning and the cloud has lifted. But now I think, not; I think the cloud never lifts, completely.


As to Jack doing Ennis that favor...I think Jack had given up on Jack, not on Ennis. So I agree that his father's damage was well done. Deep down, it was always about how Jack felt about himself, in the end. He felt unloved and a failure, IMO, which is enough to drive some people to suicide by accident.

Ennis finally saw Jack's lack of self worth, and realized how he contributed to it. How horrible for his poor soul.

So this is very serious and important stuff you are bringing up here, IMO. I hope we don't get depressed over it... ;)

HUGS.
Jo
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Ministering angel on March 03, 2008, 05:43:23 PM
Rosewood, the idae that Ennis was able to finally see Jack and their love once Jack was dead has been thrashed out. No need to feel as if you are going to bring outrage down upon yourself. It's one of the central tragedies of the story, that Ennis feared the thing that he loved and needed, that happiness could not coexist with the source of that happiness except briefly on fishing trips, and even then it was not fully realised. It's a story where all the good elements cannot happen in the one place at the one time - except maybe the DE.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Rosewood on March 03, 2008, 06:14:27 PM
Or to paraphrase Jane Austen's Miss Elizabeth Bennet,
"There is just enough between the two to make one good man."

Yes, yes, I exagerate. Well, it is a paraphrase, after all.
And NO, I don't mean that either Jack or Ennis
were not inherently 'good'.
What I mean is that both are damaged.
So between them, you have the makings, perhaps of one
undamaged man?
One 'whole' man.
My fancy.
Ignore it if it offends.

At any rate, this idea of 'relief' discomfits me.
But I have to admit that an element of it probably exists in Ennis.
Though I suspect he would fight to the death, after the discovery of
the shirts, to deny it.

Oh Jo, that prologue speaks of nothing 'ended' nothing 'begun' to me.
And yes, I agree that Jack NEVER gave up on Ennis. He gave up on himself
and his own ability to make his dreams come true. In the end, he probably
accepted that his father's opinion was the true one.
That is one of the tragedies of Jack Twist.

I don't know, however, that I agree completely that Ennis ever truly
realized how Jack felt about himself, how much he needed the approval
that never came. I don't know that Ennis, even towards the end of his
life, was ever that aware of Jack's inchoate neediness.

Oh, he finally realizes that Jack loved him from the getgo, that much is
evident, but I don't know that Ennis was able even then to put two and
two together and realize the depth of Jack's despair.
The visit to the farmhouse shows Ennis what Jack
ran away from and how having a father like the 'stud duck' would
have shaped him, but...I just don't see Ennis doing a great deal
of soul-searching and analyzing. He was just not that kind of person.

In fact, in the short story, he ALREADY knows about the pissing in
the bathroom episode when he goes to the farm. It was there in memory
and still Ennis couldn't figure out how this sort of thing might impact
Jack's need for approval. Although seeing the father in person probably
helped ferment an idea or two.

Try as we might, we are never going to have our happy ending.  :)
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Ministering angel on March 03, 2008, 07:02:04 PM
I think, Rosewood, that just as he remembers or learns certain things, like the divorce trip where he turned Jack away, like the fact that Jack drank a lot, like the pissing scene, the shirts, etc. so he will slowly come to put them all together. He is like the reader in this respect - we only know Jack's full story after he's gone. Ennis WILL come to understand the awfulness of it in the end.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Desecra on March 03, 2008, 11:52:06 PM
We have discussed it before, but not for a long time.  Story-wise, Ennis needs Jack's death to get out of his own loop.   I wouldn't call it 'relief', but I agree about the feeling of safety.   Because he's safer, the barriers he's put up to protect himself start to come down and he can start to let Jack in - if only in his mind.   And the dreams start coming, as we talked about earlier.

There is some sort of peace in the prologue, and Ennis didn't seem to be able to reach that peace with Jack alive. 
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on March 04, 2008, 06:05:26 AM
Rose says:

'In fact, in the short story, he ALREADY knows about the pissing in
the bathroom episode when he goes to the farm. It was there in memory
and still Ennis couldn't figure out how this sort of thing might impact
Jack's need for approval. Although seeing the father in person probably
helped ferment an idea or two.'


IMO, the point that seems to be why the story is structured as it is, a la the Mobius Strip idea, is that you are not really aware of what is happening as you move along the strip; you may think you are going somewhere else, but if you keep going, you wind up back to where you were, eventually. So the early scenes, contain answers we don't see as we move thru them-but we get to the end, and we realize, what happened, 'back there' is where we are standing now, ie, think of the entire description of the time on BBM-there are things missing from that description. But we just move along, filling in the blanks in our head-I forebare to mention what in particular I think is missing, but I am just using it as an example. Not arguing the point itself.

Then, when we get much further along the strip-or the story-we get hit with 'he would not then, blah, blah'-and immediately you go back to the time on BBM  in your mind, and start scrambling for the truth back there, when the truth is hitting you at the further point on the strip, if you will. If you agreed with my pov, that is. Then we have the DE memory, and for some of us, a certain truth falls into place-as it does for Jack at that moment. But the DE happened two decades before.

that is also what happens with the bathrrom scene: We have no idea that somewhere along that strip, the story got told. And then, when we hear it, we like Ennis, realize what it meant-back there,during all that stuff that happens. It helps explain why Jack-again, back along the strip somewhere-drove 1200 miles to see Ennis for nothing. He was so desperate for love-ennis's love-that he dropped everything on a word, 'some little word', no doubt, and ran to Ennis. It all leads back to a memory of Jack's childhood, that only NOW, Ennis gets the significance of. He is the only soul we hear if from, so his version must carry the truth.

As Ennis goes thru the paces after Jack's death, he goes backwards, remembering all these associations, but he is really still moving forward-towards a destination-that brings him back to Brokeback Mountaiin, the beginning-in a way. He's made the full loop, coming to the realization he missed at the starting point: It was true love between them.


I think. :D
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Ministering angel on March 04, 2008, 06:24:15 AM
You could also say that the story is played out once in real time and once in Ennis's memory (or dreams). Thus the panels of the dream are the second trip around the strip.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on March 04, 2008, 07:42:34 AM
ah, yes, the Prologue. Can't forget that! The second trip around, seeing BBM in a different light, when nothing SEEMED wrong-that is the memory part.
In real time, ON BBM, to him, nothing was wrong.

But now he knows it just seemed that way.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: janjo on March 04, 2008, 11:16:26 AM

I know that Rosewood got all philosophical the other day, and I have been hit with the same complaint today, I wonder if it's infectious.
I was hit by the fact that really in symbolic terms, the whole of the fundamentals of the story of Brokeback Mountain, are expressed in the the couple of lines or so of the "song" "Water Walking Jesus." Yes I know it sounds ridiculous!
Here is how it struck me:

"I know I will meet you on that final day"............addressed to Jesus..............or Ennis?

I think it's Ennis, and it signifies that Ennis and Jack will be together into eternity. No quit there then!

"Water walking Jesus"........................ Jesus, who can walk on water and can therefore reach "Ennis," "Ynnys," the "Island in the sea," uses Jack to reach across those rocky straits and to reach Ennis' heart,  "take me away"...................and Jesus did take Jack away, therefore showing Ennis the error of his ways, bringing him to "salvation" and thus ensuring that he would indeed qualify to spend the rest of eternity with Jack.

Strange, symbolic, spiritual, and definitely as far as I can see a mobius strip in the way that this is sung at the beginning of their relationship, in order to guarantee the eternality of it, which we are given indications of at the end, which in the case of this story is the beginning.
All very odd, and not at all the sort of symbolism that usually does anything for me!

Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Rosewood on March 04, 2008, 12:18:30 PM
You could also say that the story is played out once in real time and once in Ennis's memory (or dreams). Thus the panels of the dream are the second trip around the strip.

I like this, Angel.
It would explain much about the structure of the story in a fairly simple way.
(As it applies to the short story.)
At least, simple enough for me.  ;)
Don't know about that 'strip' stuff, though.

And, in fact, it doesn't really apply to the film, as interpreted by Ang Lee.
But we can't have EVERYTHING!
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Rosewood on March 04, 2008, 12:26:26 PM

....As Ennis goes thru the paces after Jack's death, he goes backwards, remembering all these associations, but he is really still moving forward-towards a destination-that brings him back to Brokeback Mountaiin, the beginning-in a way. He's made the full loop, coming to the realization he missed at the starting point: It was true love between them.


I think. :D

Oh, absolutely.
One of several reasons why I've always maintained that great stories remain 'fluid'.
This fits in with Angels's theory as well.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Rosewood on March 04, 2008, 12:37:00 PM

I know that Rosewood got all philosophical the other day, and I have been hit with the same complaint today, I wonder if it's infectious.
I was hit by the fact that really in symbolic terms, the whole of the fundamentals of the story of Brokeback Mountain, are expressed in the the couple of lines or so of the "song" "Water Walking Jesus." Yes I know it sounds ridiculous!
Here is how it struck me:

"I know I will meet you on that final day"............addressed to Jesus..............or Ennis?

I think it's Ennis, and it signifies that Ennis and Jack will be together into eternity. No quit there then!

"Water walking Jesus"........................ Jesus, who can walk on water and can therefore reach "Ennis," "Ynnys," the "Island in the sea," uses Jack to reach across those rocky straits and to reach Ennis' heart,  "take me away"...................and Jesus did take Jack away, therefore showing Ennis the error of his ways, bringing him to "salvation" and thus ensuring that he would indeed qualify to spend the rest of eternity with Jack.

Strange, symbolic, spiritual, and definitely as far as I can see a mobius strip in the way that this is sung at the beginning of their relationship, in order to guarantee the eternality of it, which we are given indications of at the end, which in the case of this story is the beginning.
All very odd, and not at all the sort of symbolism that usually does anything for me!



Yeah, watch out world when I get philosphical...You just never know.  :D

No, Janjo, your theory does NOT sound ridiculous. Not at all.
I like it.
I've always been touched by that scene of Jack 'singing' those fateful lines.
And yes, it isn't much of a leap to imagine that it is a prescient moment.
For both boys.

And there's no getting around the fact that, yes, in a way, '...water walking Jesus'
does take Jack away...Perhaps, even, with Jack's acquiescence.

Though I'm not big on religious symbolism, I can easily see Jack and Ennis together in
some place approximating eternity. I like to think that somewhere the idea of Jack and Ennis
lives on. (As I suppose it does in our minds and hearts and maybe that's enough.)
I like to think that there might be a place where broken hearts can mend.
A sappy notion of mine.

Oh jeez, I've made myself misty.
Never mind.

Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Dal on March 04, 2008, 01:04:22 PM
I propose that the Moebius Strip is what Ennis does while Jack is peeling potatos.  He takes his clothes off, turns as he washes, and then puts his clothes back on.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Rosewood on March 04, 2008, 01:32:35 PM
I propose that the Moebius Strip is what Ennis does while Jack is peeling potatos.  He takes his clothes off, turns as he washes, and then puts his clothes back on.

Ha!  ;D

Thanks, Dal, you made the mist go away.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: janjo on March 04, 2008, 01:32:35 PM

I know that Rosewood got all philosophical the other day, and I have been hit with the same complaint today, I wonder if it's infectious.
I was hit by the fact that really in symbolic terms, the whole of the fundamentals of the story of Brokeback Mountain, are expressed in the the couple of lines or so of the "song" "Water Walking Jesus." Yes I know it sounds ridiculous!
Here is how it struck me:

"I know I will meet you on that final day"............addressed to Jesus..............or Ennis?

I think it's Ennis, and it signifies that Ennis and Jack will be together into eternity. No quit there then!

"Water walking Jesus"........................ Jesus, who can walk on water and can therefore reach "Ennis," "Ynnys," the "Island in the sea," uses Jack to reach across those rocky straits and to reach Ennis' heart,  "take me away"...................and Jesus did take Jack away, therefore showing Ennis the error of his ways, bringing him to "salvation" and thus ensuring that he would indeed qualify to spend the rest of eternity with Jack.

Strange, symbolic, spiritual, and definitely as far as I can see a mobius strip in the way that this is sung at the beginning of their relationship, in order to guarantee the eternality of it, which we are given indications of at the end, which in the case of this story is the beginning.
All very odd, and not at all the sort of symbolism that usually does anything for me!



Yeah, watch out world when I get philosphical...You just never know.  :D

No, Janjo, your theory does NOT sound ridiculous. Not at all.
I like it.
I've always been touched by that scene of Jack 'singing' those fateful lines.
And yes, it isn't much of a leap to imagine that it is a prescient moment.
For both boys.

And there's no getting around the fact that, yes, in a way, '...water walking Jesus'
does take Jack away...Perhaps, even, with Jack's acquiescence.

Though I'm not big on religious symbolism, I can easily see Jack and Ennis together in
some place approximating eternity. I like to think that somewhere the idea of Jack and Ennis
lives on. (As I suppose it does in our minds and hearts and maybe that's enough.)
I like to think that there might be a place where broken hearts can mend.
A sappy notion of mine.

Oh jeez, I've made myself misty.
Never mind.



I started by wondering why Annie Proulx wrote two lines of dialogue for a fascimile of a hymn in the film, when they could have just chosen an old Pentecostal one, then all was revealed.
I am really not all that religous at all, I always describe myself as a Christian going on a Pagan, because I tend to just go to church to mark the changes in the seasons, that sort of thing, but I keep finding religous imagery in this story, even when I'm not really looking for it.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Rosewood on March 04, 2008, 01:41:11 PM
That IS interesting, isn't it?
I thought, at first, that it WAS an actual hymn, since I'm not familiar with
that sort of music at all. (Well, except for the obvious ones that everyone knows.)

Then I asked a church-going friend of mine if she'd ever heard of this particular
hymn and she said she hadn't. That got me thinking.
But not enough to come up with anything solid.
Your interpretation makes sense, though, janjo.
At least, within the context of the story.
(Though we KNOW that AP, herself, is NOT religious.)

Why DID she do this?
Maybe she just couldn't find anything already written that jibed with
what she had in mind? Hard to fathom, but writers are quirky.

A good question to ask, the next time she allows an interview.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: royandronnie on March 04, 2008, 05:44:05 PM
ah, yes, the Prologue. Can't forget that! The second trip around, seeing BBM in a different light, when nothing SEEMED wrong-that is the memory part.
In real time, ON BBM, to him, nothing was wrong.

But now he knows it just seemed that way.

Ah, but does he know that now? Because if he does, then he knows that their entire relationship only "seemed" as well. Which is not the point I think any of us are making. I think that this quote is Ennis' version of the DE memory: it was perfect on Brokeback, but then he spent most of the next twenty years pretending that what had happened up there was just two friends having sex, which then was found to be a good thing to keep on doing, as opposed to being two homosexual men falling in love and later finding they couldn't do without each other. I think that in the adult part of the relationship, it was hard to pretend they were still just buds who liked sex with each other, which strained the effortlessness of "not no queer" allowing whatever they did do up there.

I think this could be Ennis' bitter realization that while on Brokeback it was okay, later he had to game it and spin it. The word seemed is important: on Brokeback, "nothing seemed wrong;" the other half of that sentence is that later, EVERYTHING seemed wrong. It isn't that it wasn't okay on Brokeback, he only thought it was; it's that what they had was always okay, it was always right, but he wasted his time together with Jack worrying about it being wrong.

But it only seemed that way.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on March 04, 2008, 06:14:59 PM
R and R, your quotes:

Quote
Ah, but does he know that now? Because if he does, then he knows that their entire relationship only "seemed" as well.
That's right...he could not give what he owed to Jack while Jack lived.

 
Quote
Which is not the point I think any of us are making.
I am... ;D...he told himself something other than the truth for 20 years.

 SNIP

Quote
I think this could be Ennis' bitter realization that while on Brokeback it was okay, later he had to game it and spin it. The word seemed is important: on Brokeback, "nothing seemed wrong;" the other half of that sentence is that later, EVERYTHING seemed wrong. It isn't that it wasn't okay on Brokeback, he only thought it was; it's that what they had was always okay, it was always right, but he wasted his time together with Jack worrying about it being wrong.


Ok, I'm a little confused on the temporal aspects above, but I think I've worked it out:
You are saying, things WERE ok on Brokeback, but Ennis somehow later denied it so he could continue, once he knew it was more than just lust? Is that right?  I hope I got that right..

I still think you are reading 'seemed' as 'was'. Ennis is looking back, and saying, well, I thought things were ok on BBM-that is what 'seemed' means. Apply it to any other situation and you'll seewhat I mean. I don't agree if you are saying he is going back and remembering BBM as being right, even though things went to pot later-?.


What it really means to me, is, he was under an illusion that what was going on , ie, how he was behaving towards Jack on BBM was ok, back then. He has discovered, since, that it only seemed that way.  He now knows otherwise. Its pretty basic a sentence, I think. The proof is he was under a delusion that it was something other than LOVE for 20 years-and that shatters with the shirts.We know that, we are told by the author. Ennis could not conceive the sentence as she wrote it, I don't think. Its third person, IMO.

The diff between BBM and after, is Ennis explains the love away, so the behavior can continue, albeit a bit more advanced, perhaps. And that is because he knows he felt something MORE than he realized on BBM.  And that is because he has a realization AFTER BBM, that he should not have let Jack out of his sights. But he still does not realize its love-not until the shirts. Its a progress, not a knowing,  then  a denying. He denies all the way thru....When the threat of knowing comes up, he promptly swats it down-violently.
So how could BBM have been ok, later on, in his 20/20 hindsight? Its the mobius problem-he has no choice but to re-look at his past, his journey over that strip, to get to'nothing seemed wrong.', by going back and facing it, in his heart and soul.

I don't think he's twisiting anything in his memory here,either; he is older now, but over time, as an adult, he's figured it out....IMO.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on March 04, 2008, 06:32:38 PM

I know that Rosewood got all philosophical the other day, and I have been hit with the same complaint today, I wonder if it's infectious.
I was hit by the fact that really in symbolic terms, the whole of the fundamentals of the story of Brokeback Mountain, are expressed in the the couple of lines or so of the "song" "Water Walking Jesus." Yes I know it sounds ridiculous!
Here is how it struck me:

"I know I will meet you on that final day"............addressed to Jesus..............or Ennis?

I think it's Ennis, and it signifies that Ennis and Jack will be together into eternity. No quit there then!

"Water walking Jesus"........................ Jesus, who can walk on water and can therefore reach "Ennis," "Ynnys," the "Island in the sea," uses Jack to reach across those rocky straits and to reach Ennis' heart,  "take me away"...................and Jesus did take Jack away, therefore showing Ennis the error of his ways, bringing him to "salvation" and thus ensuring that he would indeed qualify to spend the rest of eternity with Jack.

Strange, symbolic, spiritual, and definitely as far as I can see a mobius strip in the way that this is sung at the beginning of their relationship, in order to guarantee the eternality of it, which we are given indications of at the end, which in the case of this story is the beginning.
All very odd, and not at all the sort of symbolism that usually does anything for me!


OH,  J, I think WWJ has a lot of Symbolism in it, so I agree. I like the idea of the foretelling of Jack's demise...and at the end, as you point out, being the beginning, we get the echo of the water again, with the real estate shark-it could be dangerous on that particular highway, which is water, Ennis being an island. Not to go too far into the deep end on this...I also think we've talked about who's who, ie, is Jack saving Ennis, or vice versa? I always feel a poignancy, in him asking Ennis to 'take me away from all this', ie, the isolation of his entire  life, as symbolized by the isolation of LF at the end.

I'm still not sure we've caught even near to everything this story has to offer, no way!
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on March 04, 2008, 07:02:42 PM
I propose that the Moebius Strip is what Ennis does while Jack is peeling potatos.  He takes his clothes off, turns as he washes, and then puts his clothes back on.
I am reading, "Angels and Deamons", I'm embarrassed to admit,and in it, a Mobius strip is referred to! Very weird-one character says her father could argue both sides of a mobius strip and the narrator states its a twisting piece of paper that appears to have one side (paraphr.)
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Desecra on March 04, 2008, 11:38:59 PM
There's a good summary of the difference between film Brokeback and book Brokeback in Tellyouwhat's review of 'On Brokeback Mountain' on the Daily Sheet.   It's something we've pointed out before, I know, but it's nicely summed up over there.   '

Quote
We also know that SNIT (second night in the tent) is a construct of the film.  However, it is easy to lose sight of the fact that Ennis’ reaction to FNIT,  his wordless departure from camp, his distress at finding the dead sheep, and the difficulty between him and Jack leading up to the second night in the tent, are all missing from the story.      


At this moment, in the story, Proulx says Ennis and Jack
"both knew how it would go the rest of the summer."  There
is no mention of Ennis struggling with this on the day after FNIT.
   

The conclusion that, while on the mountain, Ennis felt that they were “above ordinary affairs,” (and the use of the word “affair” is intended) – gives new meaning to a line at the beginning of the story.  Ennis’ dreams of Jack bring back the feeling of "that old, cold time on the mountain, when they owned the world and nothing seemed wrong."

In the film, the idea of 'nothing seemed wrong' is left out - we don't have that time on Brokeback (Ennis conflict is added, as above) and we don't have Ennis looking back at it that way.  Brokeback isn't a time apart, but the start of the rest - they don't seem to avoid Brokeback on their travels and seem to have returned there at the last meeting.

But back to the book - I think 'nothing seemed wrong' means that nothing really did seem wrong - those added scenes (the mutilated the sheep, etc.) didn't happen - they knew how it would go, were suspended above ordinary affairs, believed themselves invisible.   I think that's a big clue - Ennis feels no fear.    He's terrified at the thought of them being seen kissing, but had no worries about sex out in the open in broad daylight where they could be, and were, watched.  The tire iron hasn't entered his head yet.  He doesn't experience fear - and doesn't experience shame either.   Without the shame, nothing seemed wrong.  That's why there's a DE then and not later (another difference in the film - we're not told about the DE, just shown it, and it comes across as a happy, perfect memory rather than a one-off).   That's why it's Ennis's shame - his rejection of Jack because of Jack's sexuality - that leads to the DE thought, and Jack recognising the signs of Ennis's denial, the denial which prevented him feeling that shame.

And when Ennis is looking back on it, 'nothing seemed wrong' has a double meaning - Ministering Angel pointed out that it's also about his regrets over how he treated Jack.   He didn't know he was treating him badly then - that he was rejecting him, when they were truly in love. 
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Ministering angel on March 06, 2008, 04:40:06 AM
I propose that the Moebius Strip is what Ennis does while Jack is peeling potatos.  He takes his clothes off, turns as he washes, and then puts his clothes back on.
Only to find they are on inside out and back to front.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Ministering angel on March 06, 2008, 04:46:14 AM

I know that Rosewood got all philosophical the other day, and I have been hit with the same complaint today, I wonder if it's infectious.
I was hit by the fact that really in symbolic terms, the whole of the fundamentals of the story of Brokeback Mountain, are expressed in the the couple of lines or so of the "song" "Water Walking Jesus." Yes I know it sounds ridiculous!
Here is how it struck me:

"I know I will meet you on that final day"............addressed to Jesus..............or Ennis?

I think it's Ennis, and it signifies that Ennis and Jack will be together into eternity. No quit there then!

"Water walking Jesus"........................ Jesus, who can walk on water and can therefore reach "Ennis," "Ynnys," the "Island in the sea," uses Jack to reach across those rocky straits and to reach Ennis' heart,  "take me away"...................and Jesus did take Jack away, therefore showing Ennis the error of his ways, bringing him to "salvation" and thus ensuring that he would indeed qualify to spend the rest of eternity with Jack.

Strange, symbolic, spiritual, and definitely as far as I can see a mobius strip in the way that this is sung at the beginning of their relationship, in order to guarantee the eternality of it, which we are given indications of at the end, which in the case of this story is the beginning.
All very odd, and not at all the sort of symbolism that usually does anything for me!



Jess, some time ago on the strange and wonderful S&I thread, I detailed all the similarities between FNIT and the water-walking Jesus passage out of Matthew. They are quite striking, and fit in nicely with the idea of Ennis as the island. And while we are speaking of salvation, don't forget that Ennis came from Sage. This story is so convoluted that it's hard to get a grip successfully on a single part of it.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Ministering angel on March 06, 2008, 04:54:49 AM
I started by wondering why Annie Proulx wrote two lines of dialogue for a fascimile of a hymn in the film, when they could have just chosen an old Pentecostal one, then all was revealed.
I am really not all that religous at all, I always describe myself as a Christian going on a Pagan, because I tend to just go to church to mark the changes in the seasons, that sort of thing, but I keep finding religous imagery in this story, even when I'm not really looking for it.

Not that the lines appear in the story. And in older scripts you get more than the two lines in the film.

"When the oceans shall boil, and the sky turn to fire,
the wicked recoil from the Almighty's power,
I know I shall meet you on that final day.
Water Walkin Jesus, take me away..."

Make of that what you will.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: janjo on March 06, 2008, 05:04:51 AM


That I think has echoes of the Pentecost, but as another old folkie, I am sure you too will have in your mind the numerous traditional songs that have lines like, (and here I quote from "The Lovers Ghost"), "when the seas run dry, love, and the fish they fly, love, and the rocks they melt by the heat of the sun". Only one
example of many!

I strongly suspect that it means, I will love you forever!
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Ministering angel on March 06, 2008, 05:57:53 AM
It certainly has echoes of the descent from the mountain with the broken-cloud light and the boiling demonic energy and so forth. Perhaps more in keeping with that than with "I will love you forever" songs. It's a Day Of Judgment song as written in the longer version. I don't know who actually wrote the extra lyrics. It's credited to Annie Proulx, Stephen Bruton and James McMurtry, so she may only have contributed the title as per the SS.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on March 06, 2008, 06:01:37 AM
I always get an eerie feeling when I read that passage where Jack sings and the coyotes yip-the whole thing, the howling (grief) and the 'dirge' like slowness-is very funereal in its descriiption.

I think the film echoes that feeling with the utter silence surrounding them, except for his voice...are there any yipping coyotes in the movie? If not, it was deliberate..there is something almost ominous and at the same time beautiful in that long shot done of them, just as Jack finishes, and Ennis says, 'very good.' Its like, the only affirmation Jack gets is in the middle of Brokeback Mountain, somehow.

It was both his birth and death.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Ministering angel on March 06, 2008, 06:12:07 AM
Ooooo, birth and death. Death in the song, and the birth into love about to happen. And Ennis banging one phallic symbol against another phallic symbol. That's really playing the symbols.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Sandy on March 06, 2008, 08:16:42 AM
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
In which case, this might be more profitably pursued on S&I.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Ministering angel on March 06, 2008, 03:52:30 PM
Yes indeed. I have some thoughts on the subject, if I can just remember where I left them.
*gathers skirts, runs to S&I*
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: royandronnie on April 05, 2008, 09:42:47 PM
I was having a conversation with CSI, repeating myself I'm afraid with the idea that I think Aguirre's reaction to seeing them--watching them for ten minutes until they were done--suggests that Aguirre was enjoying himself watching. And of course he comes back again; there is just the most delicate suggestion that he was trying to catch them, or did, at it a second time, I believe. She came back with the brilliant thought that Aguirre didn't see anything wrong with watching because they were two guys. I really like this: I posted on S&I about the three reactions to homosexuality of the three adult men in the story, and had touted Aguirre's as surprisingly neutral. Her shading is better, because it suggests he held them in a certain degree of contempt, decided they didn't deserve privacy, because they were being queer, which is not violent, but still a negative reaction: they are subhuman, almost. I followed this up with another not-new observation that I have always gotten a sense of grubbiness from this scene, Aguirre taking something from them--their privacy--while sullying it with his heavy breathing and his "big-ass" binos the better to zoom in and miss nothing.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Ministering angel on April 05, 2008, 11:01:55 PM
FWIW the script says that he doesn't like what he sees, doesn't like it at all. My feeling when I saw this scene was that he clearly disapproved, and it was reinforced by his comment to Jack the following year.  He's in a cleft stick - has to tolerate what's going on because he'll not get anyone new up there at that stage, yet disapproves greatly. I don't get the feeling he is perving for his own pleasure. I think he waits because he doesn't want the embarrassment of them knowing he knows. (I'm saying that HE would be embarrassed.) Two of them together would have him at a disadvantage. There's nothing he could do except show his disapproval. He still has to employ them. But a year later he can afford to turn Jack down and express his disgust.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Desecra on April 06, 2008, 01:17:33 AM
I was thinking about this.   I think if you were in Aguirre's situation - you get your binoculars out (perhaps checking where the guys were) and you see something like that, you probably make a decision at the beginning about whether you're going to keep watching or not.   If nothing stops you after that first glance, then you probably would keep watching, just because you've got to hang back and you might as well have something to watch while you're waiting.   I'm not saying that's what's happening, just something that occurred to me.   Although we get the feeling of privacy being invaded, it's not really true - they ARE doing it out in the open where anyone can see.   They have a tent they can use.

In the Story to Screenplay book, Annie Proulx says that the complication was falling in love - the sex was acceptable, even to Aguirre.  Maybe he'd done it himself when he was younger.  Maybe Jack did it the year before and maybe Aguirre knew.   The year before Aguirre had two guys sleeping in camp and he lost a lot of sheep.   This year, he decides to separate them - instead of having sex in the tent at night, one will be looking after the sheep, and just coming back for meals.   When Aguirre catches them they're not having a meal (the herder is only supposed to be there at breakfast and supper) but having sex, while the sheep are neglected - hence the 'stemming the rose' comment.   And then it's Ennis who goes back to the sheep, not Jack - so he knows they're breaking the rules he set. 
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on April 06, 2008, 08:39:23 AM
I do agree it is mostly about working, and AP we know emphasized in the Screenplay book, that she knew of the rancher who sent the two men up in case, they needed a 'lonely poke.'
So this HAS to be the basis for much of what she did with Aguirre in the story-she's telling us this.

I think though, what Char brings up is a point I agree with, and it is something on a symbolic level: there is a sense on another level of Big Brother feeling it has the right to spy on homosexuals. Its almost a political statement of support by the author, along the lines of 'to each their own and mind your own business.' I tend to agree with that, of course, if that is what she means. Aguirre is playing the authority figure in this, and there is the inherant hypocrisy of, "it's ok for you to make money for me, but it's not ok for you to be queer'-hence, the 'stemming the rose' and the bold stare..which has to be more than about them switching roles. We know 'stemming the rose' is NOT in this case about only dereliction of duty; it is a Victorian leftover for anal sex-and AP could have used another phrase to express the shirking of duties.

I feel it is an echo of the summer before, perhaps, where Aguirre may now realize, Jack is indeed 'queer'. Its just an underlying feeling I have, because he has allowed Ennis to take the traditional hunter/gatherer role, and he is obviously ok in the kitchen. The whole set up, seeing Ennis top Jack-I'm assuming that, due to my reading of 'as it did go'-then seeing they switched and Ennis went off to the sheep, is saying something in Aguirre's straight little mind about Jack, I think.

There is no getting around, however, that they did neglect their duties, to a certain extent. And I'm sure that, lets say the situation was a boy and girl neglecting work to have sex-he still would be pretty pissed, and he'd still spy on them...Perhaps even more.

I think its Randy Quaid's fault, with that $10 million dollar sneer, that just screams disgust and contempt. ;)
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Rosewood on April 06, 2008, 03:17:54 PM
I think also, in the short story, it says that Aguirre shows his contempt by
not bothering to dismount as he approaches on horseback. In the film,
he looks down on Jack with obvious disgust.
I suppose maybe cowboy etiquette requires a dismount when approaching
to speak to a person. Makes sense.

At the very least, Jack doesn't seem embarassed or look away.
He just looks uneasy, glances around. Figures out the binoculars are
there for a reason.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on April 06, 2008, 04:10:06 PM
I'm glad Des reminded us that they have disobeyed him by switching roles..it adds some dimension to that look Aguirre gives Jack upon leaving; it must dawn on Jack, too. that they got caught for doing that, so he must wonder what else Aguirre's been seeing, at least later on.

Funny that they continue, apparently, to think themselves invisible...both are in a degree of denial, it seems.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: royandronnie on April 06, 2008, 08:02:50 PM
I wouldn't think it would really matter to Aguirre that they changed places, unless he had a reason for making Jack the herder, such as wanting to punish him for poor performance the summer before--after all, if the job's all he's worried about, then does it matter who does it? For all he knows, they take turns and sometimes Jack IS the herder.

Of course I am talking about the story in suggesting that Aguirre is perving. I'm not sure why McMurtry/Ossana--or was it Schamus?--felt it necessary to have him disapprove, unless it was to make sure nobody thought we were going to have a porn scene where Aguirre licks his chops at the free show. At this point in time, no one had read Annie's essay about how herder sex was tolerated. And of course, everyone in their world must disapprove of them--at the very least--to hammer home the point for straight audiences that what they were doing estranged them from their entire culture. I think the implication, couched in the watching through the binos for 10 minutes, is pretty clear. He doesn't need them to see what the boys are doing. He doesn't have to wait until they're done--if he worries they're derelict in their duties, what better punishment than to interrupt them and humiliate them? Do you think they'd--Ennis--would ever have done it again after that if he had? So why does he leave them alone? Because, having caught them, indifferent and contemptuous of their unmanly weakness, he enjoys himself watching. Although perhaps enjoys is too strong a word. There is nothing to suggest pleasure. The words are drily factual. He took advantage of their privacy because he could.

And yes, he was invading it--so far as they were concerned. "They believed themselves invisible, not knowing that Joe Aguirre…" Sounds like they considered what they were doing to be private, and themselves alone. And it troubles Jack enough for him to bring it up four years later.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Desecra on April 07, 2008, 02:51:19 AM
At this point in time, no one had read Annie's essay about how herder sex was tolerated. And of course, everyone in their world must disapprove of them--at the very least--to hammer home the point for straight audiences that what they were doing estranged them from their entire culture.

That's a good point.   I think that on reading the book, we do tend to take the sex as something that could have happened between two straight men - as it does in public schools, prisons and some other all-male environments.   Aguirre's lack of action seems to back that up, although I think there is still some disapproval in the book (the bold stare, not bothering to dismount).   But I think things feel different in film - for people who watched the film first, did you believe that the first night in the tent could have happened between straight people?  I agree that the film may be taking a different tack altogether on this. 

Quote
And yes, he was invading it--so far as they were concerned. "They believed themselves invisible, not knowing that Joe Aguirre…" Sounds like they considered what they were doing to be private, and themselves alone. And it troubles Jack enough for him to bring it up four years later.

I think there is a small difference between believing it was private (they shouldn't be watched) and believing they were invisible (they couldn't be watched).  I agree about it troubling Jack -  it seems strange that he brings it up, doesn't it?   And why does he only think of it when he sees the binoculars the next summer - doesn't it occur to him that Aguirre might have been watching before he rode up that time?  Apparently not.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: royandronnie on April 07, 2008, 07:21:44 PM
That's a good point.   I think that on reading the book, we do tend to take the sex as something that could have happened between two straight men - as it does in public schools, prisons and some other all-male environments.   Aguirre's lack of action seems to back that up, although I think there is still some disapproval in the book (the bold stare, not bothering to dismount).   But I think things feel different in film - for people who watched the film first, did you believe that the first night in the tent could have happened between straight people?  I agree that the film may be taking a different tack altogether on this. 

I sure didn't. Of course, I knew that this scene was going to occur--but the obvious passion between them makes it pretty apparent that this was something they wanted for itself: they wanted each other, not just sexual release. I picture sex between two straight guys as beginning more tentatively than that, more horsing around, careful not to go too far until both are sure it's okay, joking, etc--though I can't speak from experience!

Quote
I think there is a small difference between believing it was private (they shouldn't be watched) and believing they were invisible (they couldn't be watched).  I agree about it troubling Jack -  it seems strange that he brings it up, doesn't it?   And why does he only think of it when he sees the binoculars the next summer - doesn't it occur to him that Aguirre might have been watching before he rode up that time?  Apparently not.

You're right. They never drew this distinction, because they didn't know they were being watched. Obviously, they wouldn't have wanted that, Ennis especially. Jack does say in both versions "nobody's business but ours," though he was really saying "it doesn't matter because no one is going to know," rather than saying "others better leave us alone about this." I do wonder whether Jack thought Aguirre might have seen them. Surely he must have had a flash of fear seeing him arrive so soon after Ennis leaves, though in the movie Ennis is given enough time to get up to the sheep, presumably a couple miles, and an hour, away.

Wonder what Aguirre was doing in that hour…
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on April 09, 2008, 06:11:23 AM
Two things:

I take 'they thought themselves invisible' quite literally, insofar as anyone seeing them going at it is concerned; Jack connects the big-ass binocs with Aguirre's statement to him the following year, which he makes once he is done with them. It shows how the work was more important to him than the stemming the rose was abhorant to him. and it supports, too, that Jack also thought them invisible...and with good reson, given the remoteness.

This idea may also support the sense of the purity of what they felt for each other, even without actually being able to call it love. The feelings superceded guilt,  and Ennis figured he had found the best friend ever, and was enjoying harmless manly sex with him.

The guilt for Ennis happens more towards the end of the summer, as he begins suspecting there is more depth than he thought between them-'everything seemed mixed'.

and
I agree the attraction is person-specific between J and E, but Ennis needs to categorize it, which is why the expedient poke idea is so important.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: royandronnie on April 14, 2008, 08:40:11 PM
I think I've missed something. Over and over again, Ennis' acceptance of what happens on Brokeback is explained as being okay with him because it's just something straight guys do when there aren't any women around: shepherd sex, like prison sex. But how does he come by this knowledge? Nowhere in the story, or in the movie, is this "it's okay because" situation referred to in any way, giving Ennis his comfortable area of denial. We only know about this nudge-nudge-wink-wink because Annie tells us about it in "Getting Movied." I have a hard time reconciling any open awareness of this practice with the intensely homophobic culture they lived in. It happened, sure, but I doubt if anyone who had done it went around talking about it. If he did, he might seem to be nostalgic, might seem like he missed it. Might seem queer. I guess boys might joke about it, but not with any actual knowledge--their dads didn't say to them, "sure, me and Billy went at it like bunnies that summer, just the natural thing to do." Uh uh.

Don't you think that if Ennis did know that men sometimes had sex with each other when alone for a summer he would have washed dishes before he'd have put himself in a situation where other men could assume he had done that? I mean, we don't have any reason to believe his dad et al caught Earl and Rich together; the only obvious sin they committed was sharing a ranch, so other men ASSUMED they were lovers (which they probably were.) But the way Ennis would likely have reasoned it would be, of course I wouldn't have sex with a guy no matter what--but other men would know it happens. And they might figure I did do it, and kill me because I was queer. NO thank you. I'll just shovel asphalt, thanks.

And don't you think that armed with this knowledge, he would never have taken Jack at all--that the "touched fire" moment would have been followed straight away by the punch? Could he afford to let any doubt creep in? Not the Ennis I know.

With all of which I mean to say that I don't think Ennis rationalized Brokeback as "straight shepherd sex." He rationalized it, I think, as something unique to him and Jack. We have often suggested Ennis' mental and emotional development stops at nine; that he is a child; that he sees things in black and white, and deals with things very simply, without subtlety. Harking back to the old question "did they have previous gay experience," I think we're all agreed that whatever Jack may have done, Ennis was so closed down, by Earl if nothing else, that he hardly even dealt with people at all, let alone fooled around with boys. So I don't see him having even the usual "knowledge" he would have gotten from boys talking together about anything sexual. And for sure he'd have been so spooked that any mention of anything between guys would more likely have provoked an attack on the speaker than curiosity or interest. Don't you think? I would think that he would naturally associate any kind of sexual stuff between men that "he'd heard" others did as equivalent to Earl and Rich. He wouldn't make fine distinctions. He'd reject all of it, just to be safe. So when it starts with him and Jack, it's nothing anyone's done before. Just to be safe. Just two guys wrasslin or something, only more fun. And if they kiss, or not, it doesn't mean anything, because it's certainly not really sex between men. CSI has suggested that Ennis decides it doesn't mean anything wrong because it's shepherd sex, but with further thought, I think he decides it doesn't mean anything wrong because it's not any kind of sex, in a way. It's just play between two guys with strong sexual overtones. Okay, STRONG sexual overtones. 76 trombones-sized sexual overtones. Ennis is okay with it not because he's found a comfortable place for it within his frame of reference, but because he places it outside ANY frame of reference. Unfortunately, by the end of their time, it's gotten all mixed up with things like Earl and queers: the lie was wearing thin, because it was so transparent a lie. But it was the best he could do.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Dal on April 14, 2008, 09:06:22 PM
~ Nowhere in the story, or in the movie, is this "it's okay because" situation referred to in any way, giving Ennis his comfortable area of denial. ~ I think he decides [sex] doesn't mean anything wrong because it's not any kind of sex, in a way. It's just play between two guys ~~Unfortunately, by the end of their time, it's gotten all mixed up with things like Earl and queers: the lie was wearing thin, because it was so transparent a lie. But it was the best he could do.
Sounds about right, to me.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Ministering angel on April 14, 2008, 09:27:11 PM
R&R, way back in the Stone Age I suggested that if Ennis had thought there was a chance of any hankypanky being a possibility up on Brokeback he wouldn't have gone near the place. He wasn't THAT "hungry for a job". I think it's advisable to forget that AP ever said that when getting into the story. I have never liked the "expedient sex" argument when it comes to working out what they did and didn't do on the mountain. The sex, I feel, has to hit Ennis like a bolt from the blue, exactly as the shirts (and the love) hit him at the end.

As a kid he may not have known what Earl and Rich did (or didn't do) but after Earl's death and after getting a bit more knowledge under his belt there's no way he couldn't have put two and two together, and the answer would have been "Sex with a man gets you killed". So sex over the summer of 63? No thank you. He wouldn't have touched the job with a bargepole if he'd thought there was a chance.

When Jack makes his move, Ennis has to be taken completely unaware, I think - although his body and his natural desires are clearly working against him on this one. The story gives us (me) no sense that when Jack grabs his hand, Ennis is thinking "Okay, here we go. Took a while." No, his reaction is one of sudden surprise, the hand touching fire and rapidly withdrawn. I'd disagree that he knew very little - story Ennis is not so withdrawn as you make out -  but he knows the bare essentials, anal sex, no mushy stuff, all quick satisfaction of lust.

And he knows it is dangerous and "bad" - I don't want a be dead and I don't want a be like them guys ...

So you are right, I think, that if he had thought such a thing could be possible and yet he was still stuck on a mountain because he really couldn't find any other work, then the handgrab would have been followed by the punch. In fact, he'd most likely have NEVER got in that tent with Jack, not even dizzy drunk on all fours. The Ennis I know would have slept up a tree. With the 30-30.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: royandronnie on April 14, 2008, 10:19:03 PM
Wow. We are agreed!

Which brings us back to a stubborn question: IF we agree that it was all right with Ennis because he didn't expect it, didn't know it could happen, found a way to put it outside any dangerously gray areas altogether--then why doesn't he react at all when Jack tells him he "thinks someone might" have seen them screwing? It's been explained as Ennis doesn't care because it was shepherd sex, nothing to worry about. I can't agree with that. I have explained it as Ennis simply not hearing what he doesn't want to hear. Nobody really saw them because nobody could see them, something--anything. You can push anything away if you want to, if you try hard enough. I just think it's significant that he has no reaction in word or thought or action. It's no small thing that someone spied on them. Or is it just irrelevant because it was four years ago? --Don't like that one either.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Ministering angel on April 14, 2008, 10:43:19 PM
I suspect that if he had known about them being spotted straight afterwards he would have been mortified. He learns after four years and by that time he has his explanation in place. They are straight men with a thing for each other, unique in the world. No need for expedient shepherd sex as a reason. In a way, the fact that they might have been seen and yet nothing came of it, sort of reinforces his view. His brother lived in Signal - I always remember that - and yet nothing got back to Ennis in that four years so if they were spotted then it must have been all right.

Ah hah! I can hear you saying, so why did he insist on them meeting way the hell out the back of nowhere? And the answer, I'm afraid, is in that reunion embrace. "We can't hardly be decent if what happened back there" - nodding his head in the direction of the apartment - "comes on us, wrong place, wrong time."  Sorry, I don't have the text handy but that's near enough. Clear split - if we get caught doing what we just did, falling into each other's arms and kissing truly, madly, deeply, we are up shit creek. Yet we maybe got caught having sex and nothing came of it.

IMHO (note that, folks) there IS a qualitative difference between what happened on the mountain and what happened at the reunion, and the difference explains Ennis's attitude to being seen. Plus, of course, four years of missing Jack and finding excuses.

And it is the difference which comes into play at the end of the mountain time, when sex starts turning into love, when the Dozy Embrace happens, and the August night, when feelings start getting mixed, and finally when Jack does his ministering act and Wham! Goodnight, nurse. If Ennis thought Aguirre had seen that, it would have been a different story.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on April 14, 2008, 10:56:47 PM
Hmmm, I don't agree about the poke...I think Ennis probably does have an awareness that things happen between men; even on ranches, we know now that there can be a very active homoerotic subculture going on, in the sense that it is kept quiet.
I could see him thru osmosis, getting the idea its about relieving one's self when away from women....a version of 'needing it' when in a remote womanless location.
I think AP tells us about the expedient poke for a reason-its where she got the idea of the two shepherds going up instead of one-in case one gets lonely.So she had indeed given Ennis his rationalization.

So I'd say  there is no other way Ennis could justify this to himself, if he still did not realize how he felt up there; and in the story, we are told he doesn't, until he comes down, a year later.

As to why he does not react later, in the bed,when Jack mentions it, he must either think they were actually not seen, because he does not particularly trust Jack's perceptions; or he knows he was behaving in such a way that would shake off any sense that he and Jack were in love, more or less. And we are given back-up to this with Aguirre: He barely reacts to what he sees in the binocs, that we are told anyway. I think movie Aguirre is played a bit more homophobic.

But I shall reread both of your posts and see if I missed something, some new insight, before I say anything more.  :)
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Ministering angel on April 14, 2008, 11:02:27 PM
But she doesn't tell us within the context of the story. I know she expects her readers to work but does she expect such a critical aspect to hang on such reader knowledge? She didn't say it until 2005.  Okay, I'm willing to concede that he might have known about such goings-on but I can't see him feeling okay about it.

I think he's thinking with his penis on the mountain (how very unmanly  ;)) and any thoughts only come after the event.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on April 14, 2008, 11:10:10 PM
I don't know...I've taken it for granted that he'd know something about sheepherding and he would have heard stories, even on ranches. I think at the time, of course, he's not thinking of anything, just reacting, very fearfully; but I think he comes to categorize it a certain way, because if he is not queer, plus he intends to marry Alma, than he has to see it in that murky category of what men do when horny and without women. It is only later, when he realizes he has feelings for Jack, that is becomes a 'thing'.
IMO.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Ministering angel on April 14, 2008, 11:17:36 PM
I'm inclined to think, however, that someone who has seen what other men can do to a queer man, and who on some level is very likely to have some sort of strange inklings about himself, even if he can't pin them down, is going to be far more wary about getting into a sexual situation, even one which is sort of sanctioned by a section of society.  The fact that his shield is up seems to come across in his instinctive physical reaction to having his hand placed on Jack's penis. He's got to know on some level that it is WRONG.

I really don't see that in the talk about expedient poking that he might have heard, there would have been a lot of specifics. What would have been said? Don't touch the cock because that's queer? You can perform anal sex on your mate and still be straight and by some miracle of nature he will stay straight too? If they both do it on each other that's okay? This "knowledge" starts getting a bit vague once you begin to ask what he might have actually  known.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on April 14, 2008, 11:45:22 PM
Oh, yeah, I agree he thinks its wrong. I still stick by my theory that where Jack is concerned, Ennis does work-arounds to have his cake and eat him, too. Not that he does that...only AP knows for sure. And the Slash gang. And our imaginations.... ;)

Besides, look at the two of them...Ennis doesn't imagine Jack would overcome him, does he? It may indeed be something that causes him to feel safe-He doesn't see Jack as threatening. And Jack does keep his non-alpha place, too. He requests that Ennis touch him, basically-he is not in a position to force himself, really, on Ennis. His siezure of Ennis's hand, shows he had to make a bold, aggressive move to get what he wants-or thought he was getting.

As to what he may have heard, it could be gossip, along the lines of-and this is grossly imagined fiction-, 'did you hear that Bob and Tater had themselves a few pokes up there....I'd have to be pretty desperate to poke Tater.' :D I mean just the suggestion is enough, so that there is a dim awareness, I think. But I think there is more that goes on in the world of men than we gals are privy too; I think AP got herself an inside track. And these rural characters do indeed seem to make there own entertainment, in AP's way of thinking. After all, do you understand screwing sheep?? I don't ...but I bet if a man could choose, he might take another man over a damn sheep. although I don't know about that either....Frankly, I'm way over my head, but I do tend to accept AP's word on that; I can't answer where she explains it to Ennis in the story, but I'll be danged if I won't look thru it again.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Desecra on April 15, 2008, 01:42:29 AM
Annie Proulx wrote about the poking shepherds when she was explaining whether it was 'plausible' for the characters to get into a sexual situation.   The old shepherd's story seems to be an addition to the other factors which she thought it made it plausible ('high lonesome situation, a couple of guys - expediency rules).    By plausibility, I don't think she's talking about gay men in general - obviously it would be plausible that gay couples might get in to a sexual situation - but Jack and Ennis, Ennis being believing he's straight.    In other words, this has to be something that straight guys might conceivably do.

We don't know if Ennis knows that or not.   (If he did know, I think that it's not connected to Rich and Earl, or being gay, when he hears about it - the guys talk about it in an approving, bawdy way instead of the violent, disapproving way they would talk about gay men).   I think what matters is whether it seems 'plausible' to him at the time.   Annie Proulx gives the impression that it does - there is no obvious fear or shame.  (And certainly no second night in the tent, which would not have seemed 'plausible' for two straight guys).  I don't think we pick that up at that time - when we first read about Brokeback, I think we assume that Ennis must know what's going on.   We don't expect to see fear and shame because we don't yet know how burdened Ennis is with fear and shame,   It's only gradually that the pieces of the puzzle (the reunion conversation, the dozy embrace thoughts, the punch) are revealed.    Then it becomes clear why we didn't see fear and shame on Brokeback, why the dozy embrace could happen then but not later, why Ennis is scared of them being seen at the reunion but not on Brokeback, etc.

It IS a bit of a stretch that a gay guy in denial could have sex with another guy and not think 'this is gay'.     But it's 'plausible' and I do think we are shown that - where do we see him worrying about being gay, or the tire iron on Brokeback?   We don't.    We see that what initially seemed like a gay guy who was comfortable enough with his sexuality was actually a gay guy who was so repressed by his fear that he didn't know he was expressing his sexuality.    The complication was falling in love.   I think that if that hadn't happened - say, if Jack really had been a straight friend, and Ennis hadn't fallen for him, he would have gone away and never seen the sex for what it was. 

Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: janjo on April 15, 2008, 10:56:32 AM
A question for the men here. How likely is it that two "straight" men, (and myself I have serious doubts that two completely heterosexual men would do it), would have sex when they were shepherding, and then tell anyone about it, seriously or in fun?
Is it not more likely to have been someone who saw them, or employed them, that might mention it rather than the men themselves?
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Desecra on April 15, 2008, 11:07:03 PM
No men weighing in yet, so I'll give it a go.    You're asking generally, I think, whether sex between straight men could come to be known about, rather than whether Ennis knew?    Annie Proulx hints that it's not talked about - but it also seems that people know (the guy who talked about sending two guys up at once).    How these things come to be known if nobody talks about them, I'm not sure :).    It could be passed from person to person - one guy gets the idea one summer, and passes it on the next.   But I think that sometimes it can become commonly known.    We all know about English boarding schools.    We all know about the Navy (supposedly, the Navy tried to eradicate sex between men in the 1960s but found that about about half of their men were indulging - some would have been gay, I imagine, and some might have been straight men having sex in an environment which was conducive to it.  Don't ask me how they found out!).   Somehow or other, word seems to get around. 

Whether a straight (rather than closetted) man could have sex with another man - why not?   The preference is going to be for a woman, obviously, so it won't tend to happen in situations where sex with women is available.   And if the men are homophobic, then it needs circumstances where the sex isn't seen as 'making' them gay.   But it happens, I'm sure.    Apparently, in the days before reliable contrraception and when women were supposed to wait for marriage some straight men would have sex with men because of the availability.   
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Desecra on April 15, 2008, 11:13:53 PM
In Jack and Ennis's case, specifically, Annie Proulx seems to be presenting it as being passed from person to person.   Aguirre doesn't give any hint that he's sending them up to have sex - the opposite if anything.   He separates them and makes sure they aren't sleeping together.    There's the hint that Jack had 'experience' the previous summer.   If so, I'd guess that his advance to Ennis might be similar to the advance made on him.   No talking, just a hand grab at an appropriate moment (they would have been sharing a tent the previous summer, so plenty of opportunity). 
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Ministering angel on April 16, 2008, 10:25:48 AM
A question for the men here. How likely is it that two "straight" men, (and myself I have serious doubts that two completely heterosexual men would do it), would have sex when they were shepherding, and then tell anyone about it, seriously or in fun?
Is it not more likely to have been someone who saw them, or employed them, that might mention it rather than the men themselves?

Are you querying whether the sex would happen or whether they would tell anyone about it?

Sex between straight men happens frequently in situations where they are deprived of womenfolk. It's frequent enough that it's sort of generally known about. Thus the assumption might be made that two shepherds might very well get up to something during four months on a mountain. The men themselves wouldn't really need to say anything, except maybe to deny it happened  ;)

I don't see any problem with Ennis acquiring such knowledge by some means or other. I'm not saying he did, only that he could have.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: janjo on April 16, 2008, 04:14:44 PM
What I was asking was how likely it would be that the men indulging in the sex, if they were indeed "straight" would TALK ABOUT it to any one?
I'm not querying whether men in isolated situations would have sex with each other, I imagine that would have a lot to do with where they were on the sexuality spectrum as much as anything.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on April 16, 2008, 04:40:14 PM
Well, that rancher talked to Annie about it....hard to say. I think somehow Ennis knew, though, or else he'd have no way of accepting it with Jack. If it happened, anyway, I think the consequences would've been even worse, did he not have some way of remaining un-queer.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: royandronnie on April 16, 2008, 07:08:11 PM
Ah, but the guy who talked about it with Annie didn't say HE had done it--only that sending two men up there facilitated the men doing it to each other. It is not stated that he KNEW it happened, only that he assumed it did. And was that entirely factual? I mean, what's to stop a man wanking? I think there could be rather more important reasons for sending two men up together: companionship--four months is a LONG time to be alone; assistance--if one got sick or hurt; safety--there are bears and probably mountain lions up there; as a check on each other--one guy might just disappear, deciding he'd had enough; to allow for just what happened with Ennis and Jack--the shepherds finding that they preferred the job the other guy had been given. And one guy alone could poke sheep, sure enough. I'm sure there was "shepherd sex." But I wouldn't go so far as to decide that this was expected, and certainly not that it was a real reason two guys were sent up together. What does the foreman care about whether his employees are getting enough? And four months is a little different than years, as in a prison sentence. I think plenty of guys would have declined.

Interesting that you take a totally different slant than I did on this--that Ennis used the straight shepherd sex idea as comfort, as denial material--just straight horny buddy sex, approved of and understood. I think, psychologically, it does work better if he knows nothing beforehand about the possibility of the guys having sex. Forewarned is forearmed--against such a potentially queer occurrence. I was reading today that most gays know they are different by 7 or 8, and I think from what I've read here that this statement would get general agreement on the Forum. Even given that Ennis had a limited ability for self-understanding, and a vested interest in NOT realizing this, I would think that by the time he'd gone through puberty, he had some instinctual red flags going, flags that would have made him veer off immediately from a situation where ANYone would be given the opportunity to speculate that he might well be having sex with another man, seeing as that was "understood" to happen.   

Especially since, seeing as it was winked at, he might find himself being curious about trying it…
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on April 16, 2008, 07:22:04 PM
quibble, quibble  ;)-Whether the RL rancher did it or just knows about it-he might've done it,  too, and we have no way of knowing, do we??-it probably got talked about. Are we really denying that even though this is the basis of the two shepherds going up there in Annie's mind, and that Ennis is somehow able to get past the queer fear, that he really does not know the expedient poke exists?  Why does she tell us about it, if its not the basis for some of the action? Especially if Ennis doesn't act shocked at the thought of Aguirre seeing them.. I don't see how that can be....He's been around ranchers and farm animals all his life, and we know there is a long-standing subculture, ie, "Farm Boys"'...And even if he has just a clue, its enough to bring him to Jack's arms, cuz he has to be there.

I see it as  somethig that would be part of the cultural subconscious of the area/region/locale and maybe the era. I mean we even joke about it, 'where sheep are nervous.'

And I agree it doesn't have to be expected-it just has to be dimly known about, so Ennis can point to it as a scapegoat, ie, he just needs sex, period. and we know this is true, because of the Alma bookend-that is how he lives with himself up there; it feels great, but he's an engaged man and it will all be over soon. He just doesn't count on things getting mixed....as AP says, the complication is falling in love.

I frankly am not sure what the guys REALLY would think in that time and place; I'm just going by what Annie seems to be saying. However Ennis does it, he has to feel he is straight, and the only way he could do that is to know it happens sometimes..he can't see himself as some sort of freak, can he? He does not think in terms of a 'thing' between them, until he has to: Until he realizes how he feels.

I'm fine with us disagreeing, aren't you? keeps things lively..although, I'll admit, I don't have alot else to say about it. It seems simple to me, but then maybe I'm being simple. ;D Maybe he really had no idea, and just went with the flow...lemme give it some more thought, see if I can see what you're saying. :)
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: royandronnie on April 16, 2008, 09:58:10 PM
Are we really denying that even though this is the basis of the two shepherds going up there in Annie's mind, and that Ennis is somehow able to get past the queer fear, that he really does not know the expedient poke exists?  Why does she tell us about it, if it's not the basis for some of the action?

But IS it the basis? She was searching for a situation in which a deeply homophobic man could fall in love with another man, and express it (physically at least.) Obviously, they had to be alone for a good bit of time. There wouldn't be that many possibilities, in the 20th century. And as far as telling us about it, she doesn't--until several years later. We seem to have a bit of a rule here: if it's relevant, it's in the story. Otherwise, not. And it's not in the story, in word, or hint--unless you count Joe watching rather than tire-ironing a hint.

I see an Ennis who is severely isolated from people: an older brother with whom he has reached some kind of detente, a sister who exists only as being married, riding 43 miles to and from school every day--it's a given he didn't participate in after-school activities. This was a guy with no friends, who was not around anyone for any length of time, with Earl and Daddy always looking over his shoulder. I think it's entirely possible he would never hear about it. I just can't square what I understand of his character, from my own observations and others', with someone for whom any male-male sex would be acceptable unless he found a way to make it utterly different from any other kind of sex--not just straight-guy sex, but something even more different. This is the guy who punches his lover over an accident. We are not sure if it's the blood, or the ministering, or both--but here he is, taking no chances of having the relationship resemble anything he can identify: love (ministering) or E/R: blood. He doesn't know if Earl and Rich were in love. They just lived together. Other men killed them not for being in love, but for (presumably) having sex. I just don't see that a stunted and traumatized 19-year-old is going to make distinctions about what's queer and what isn't. Earl and Rich lived together and had sex. Maybe that was just shepherd sex, too. Ennis doesn't know. He and Jack were also living together, in a way, and having sex. It's too close. Nothing seemed wrong--because what they were doing wasn't wrong, because it was just him and Jack. I really believe that the only way he could live with it was because it took him totally by surprise, from the first left-handed grab. Then it could be something nobody had ever heard of, that he couldn't be blamed for, that couldn't be confused, in his mind either, with anything else. Otherwise, why have it be them drunk in the middle of the night, forced to share the bedroll? If he was so cool with it, he could just have grabbed Jack by the fire one evening. presumably after some joking and horsing around to check out Jack's receptivity.

And I think that is an important distinction, especially because Annie does not feel it necessary to tell us that it was anyone's common practice to assume the pairs of shepherds were having it off. That would be a pretty big weapon in Ennis' denial arsenal, I agree. But he didn't have it, because Annie didn't give it to him.

Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on April 16, 2008, 10:00:10 PM
^^^^^^^^^^^^^

still thinking...I'm not wed to it, emotionally; I just can't see it out intellectually, ie, that he doesn't know.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on April 16, 2008, 10:30:15 PM
author=royandronnie link=topic=28390.msg1266602#msg1266602 date=1208404690]

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But IS it the basis? She was searching for a situation in which a deeply homophobic man could fall in love with another man, and express it (physically at least.) Obviously, they had to be alone for a good bit of time. There wouldn't be that many possibilities, in the 20th century. And as far as telling us about it, she doesn't--until several years later. We seem to have a bit of a rule here: if it's relevant, it's in the story. Otherwise, not. And it's not in the story, in word, or hint--unless you count Joe watching rather than tire-ironing a hint.

But there are other things that she assumes we know about, too, in terms of common sense; for example, the marrying Jack does-we don't need to have Lureen called a beard to know that is what she is... or to see it as being implied, ie, the 'other things' from rodeoing. I think she said she expects her reader to have some knowledge of the subject..this is different than the actual narration of events. There may be Wyoming cowboys reading this going, 'ah-ha, been there, done that.'  If she does tell us of an impression, I also believe it. But if she does not tell us about an event as part of the narration, we maybe do or do not assume it..Just think of our heated debates over what happend on  BBM. (We have things we were not told, yet people have defended them to the death, saying they happened...)
The knowledge about the expedient poke is part of the lore and the subculture, apparently, that you and I may not know about. We know what we know about the culture when we go into the story; she elaborates on what perhaps she may think is critical to the narrative. She may assume we all know about the romance of sheepherding;  or again, think of the jokes.

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I see an Ennis who is severely isolated from people: an older brother with whom he has reached some kind of detente, a sister who exists only as being married, riding 43 miles to and from school every day--it's a given he didn't participate in after-school activities. This was a guy with no friends, who was not around anyone for any length of time, with Earl and Daddy always looking over his shoulder. I think it's entirely possible he would never hear about it.
Possible, yes. But I think unlikely-remember he is around ranchers all his life, and thus, cowboys. And though it's his first summer up on BBM, its not his first time around men or another man. And he was in school, too-kids hear all sorts of things there.. I sure did.

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I just can't square what I understand of his character, from my own observations and others', with someone for whom any male-male sex would be acceptable unless he found a way to make it utterly different from any other kind of sex--not just straight-guy sex, but something even more different.


I see what you are saying now: But its not really acceptable to him-He just rationalizes it. Do you see what I"m saying, the difference? I see it again, as him not doing it for the sake of having sex, as if he just needs that-I see him doing it because he can't help himself with Jack.  I agree, we do look at this differently.

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This is the guy who punches his lover over an accident. We are not sure if it's the blood, or the ministering, or both--but here he is, taking no chances of having the relationship resemble anything he can identify: love (ministering) or E/R: blood. He doesn't know if Earl and Rich were in love. They just lived together. Other men killed them not for being in love, but for (presumably) having sex. I just don't see that a stunted and traumatized 19-year-old is going to make distinctions about what's queer and what isn't.

But he does, doesn't he? "INNQ"-yet he messes around with Jack.  So he does see a difference....In our prior arguments, the topics tell me how he does it, but it is an area where we do not agree, strongly, so its pointless to get into it, right? IMO, he does show that he can distinguish it, very pointedly, several times.. And actually, we don't know that he did not realize Rich and Earl were in love....His parents were, probably; so he may be able to extropolate that to the two men, in his mind,, and its where he sees a diff between Jack and him. Its sex, not love. Friend, not lover. and that is exactly why he won't move in with Jack-he sees E and R for what they probablly were-lovers. Its not just about two guys running a ranch, as roommates. He knows why Earl's dick was torn off-someone made that clear, or as he grew, he figured it out...After all, he never tells Jack he doesn't get it, does he?  He learned his lesson.

 
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Maybe that was just shepherd sex, too. Ennis doesn't know. He and Jack were also living together, in a way, and having sex. It's too close. Nothing seemed wrong--because what they were doing wasn't wrong, because it was just him and Jack. I really believe that the only way he could live with it was because it took him totally by surprise, from the first left-handed grab. Then it could be something nobody had ever heard of, that he couldn't be blamed for, that couldn't be confused, in his mind either, with anything else. Otherwise, why have it be them drunk in the middle of the night, forced to share the bedroll? If he was so cool with it, he could just have grabbed Jack by the fire one evening. presumably after some joking and horsing around to check out Jack's receptivity.


That's possible, of course- But it does not address Ennis character, esp that last part. I don't think it does. I think we have to recall his state of mind, that we don't know about until later. I don't think he sees it as ok-he just rationalizes it, because he wants to go forward. He may have heard of it, and still think its wrong-but he needs the crutch. They never talk about it, because maybe, Ennis simply can't-but when he does? INNQ, is all he says. So he does distinguish-and you know how I think he manages that. I can't offer you my evidence on this forum, and if you don't agree, it wouldn't  matter if I did, would it?  ;D ;)...

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And I think that is an important distinction, especially because Annie does not feel it necessary to tell us that it was anyone's common practice to assume the pairs of shepherds were having it off. That would be a pretty big weapon in Ennis' denial arsenal, I agree. But he didn't have it, because Annie didn't give it to him.

I never said it was common-I don't think it was, actually. But if someone is grasping at straws, it would be typical to light on something like that, and exaggerate its common-ness...
So are you saying he was not in denial, then? How did he manage the denial? I can see other ways, too,  but I'm just curious-or is it that you don't see him  in denial? Uh-oh, the Bad Topic. ;)
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Desecra on April 17, 2008, 12:44:02 AM
When I read the story (before reading the Story to Screenplay book), if I remember, I thought it was 'plausible' that two straight guys might have had sex.   I didn't think that was what was happening when I first read about the sex, but later, when we find out about Ennis's denial, it made sense that that's what he thought was happening at the time.    But then, I do go along with the idea that the sex was limited - they weren't having sex the way lovers do, but the way you might expect straight men to do with each other.   

In the film, that aspect has gone altogether - there's no way Ennis really believes that they are two straight men, I think.    RoyandRonnie commented earlier that if you watch the film first, you don't get the impression that this would be 'plausible' between two straight men at all.  I'm wondering if this is maybe another thing that led to the second night scene - of course we know it's there to show the love, people would not have accepted the love without that scene.   But I wondered if the film-makers also realised that on film, people wouldn't accept the 'straight shepherds poking each other' scenario without a lot of setup.   It would have to have been spelled out.  I can believe that this may have been an aspect of the book which it was thought from the start that audiences wouldn't 'buy'. 

I agree that sex would be a trigger for Ennis - he mentions that his father would kill them for having sex when they're at the motel.   We also know that the sex didn't spark off anything for Ennis on Brokeback.   I suppose the 'open space' is how we rationalise that.   We're not told directly that Ennis would have known about the 'poking', and I don't have strong feelings either way.  If he knew, he believed that that was what was going on, and if he didn't know, he invented it for himself - it was 'plausible'.   
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Dal on April 17, 2008, 02:49:23 AM

~We seem to have a bit of a rule here: if it's relevant, it's in the story. Otherwise, not. And it's not in the story, in word, or hint--unless you count Joe watching rather than tire-ironing a hint.

But there are other things that she assumes we know about, too, in terms of common sense; for example, the marrying Jack does-we don't need to have Lureen called a beard to know that is what she is... or to see it as being implied, ie, the 'other things' from rodeoing. I think she said she expects her reader to have some knowledge of the subject..this is different than the actual narration of events. There may be [...possibly....maybe...if...wouldn't...couldn't...this and that..etc etc etc]


  :o Somebody call the police!  This person is claiming to be CSI which is quite impossible!  The real CSI always says "Show me the text" and "Show me where she tells us that" and so forth -- I must have read it 90 times if I've read it once!  Why, you would think she was from Missouri, not Arizona!   But now all of a sudden, this person claiming to be CSI is all like, yes but...., OK but possibly...., er ah maybe but if...   My question for this new CSI is:  "If what you say is true, show me what page it is written on.  No if, ands, buts, possiblies or maybes!"   :D But really CSI, can't have it both ways...

BTW:  "But there are other things that she assumes we know about, too, in terms of common sense"  I'm not entirely convinced about that idea -- i.e. that our knowledge of routine, run-of-the-mill expedient poking can be taken for granted, because we have common sense.  Is  that knowledge really to be compared with, say, knowing that Lureen is a 'beard?'  Annie herself didn't know anything about the expedient poking, until the ancient, wizened sheepman told her.  I don't think common sense can be relied upon here.  In fact, on the contrary. 
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Desecra on April 17, 2008, 03:52:37 AM
It's common knowledge that expedient sex does sometimes go on in all-male (and sometimes all-female), isolated circumstances*, so I think readers would be expected to know that.   It's often joked about.  (I'm sure I read something about Annie Proulx not giving the full background - she expects her readers to either know, or do their research.   It might have been from the time that Brokeback_1 and Tellyouwhat met her.   I'll see if I can dig it out).    That's the 'plausible' bit, I suppose - for the reader and Ennis.   What she doesn't make clear is whether Ennis would take it as a given that this went on in these particular circumstances (sheep herding) or whether he'd never heard of it. 

Of course, it's also 'common knowledge' that straight men don't normally have sex with each other, so you could say that there are two conflicting bits of knowledge.   In that case I'd go for the one that's hinted at in the story - a man has sex with another man and appears to think it's something straight men might do, and that reminds us of other situations where supposedly straight men have sex with each other.   We don't really need to know about the old sheep herder - for all we know, this could be the only time that two men had sex up there.    Again, I don't think it matters - it's the plausiblity:  Could it happen? rather than Did it happen frequently?  Was it talked about?

*Or is this just a British thing? :D  I'm starting to wonder ...
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: janjo on April 17, 2008, 04:30:34 AM

Yes, but, would "straight" men having sex with each other boast about it?
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Desecra on April 17, 2008, 04:41:12 AM
I suppose it depends on the circumstances.  It is talked about sometimes, and some people say they've done it.   I suppose I could imagine boasting in certain circumstances, particularly where it's done partly as a power thing (I'm thinking of prisons).  It would have to be a situation where boasting would 'earn points', if you see what I mean.  Annie Proulx says that nobody needed to talk about the shepherd sex so I don't imagine boasting.    If there hadn't been the 'complication' of falling in love and it had just been the sex, I still can't imagine Ennis boasting about it, although he wouldn't have worried about it so much. 
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: janjo on April 17, 2008, 04:53:05 AM
I haven't ever heard anyone mention it. People might snigger and make jokes about it, a little like sheep jokes, but it has never ever been told to me on a personal basis.
I wondered if it was something men talked about amongst themselves.
It is not something us women should try to second guess.
We don't know what they talk about when we are not around.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Desecra on April 17, 2008, 04:56:01 AM
Here's some mixed stories about public schools:

http://education.guardian.co.uk/publicschools/story/0,,1590151,00.html

At Eton, if you were a fag master you chose the prettiest fag from among the lower boys. You just liked to have a pretty fag - I suppose it was a substitute for girls. The funny thing was, if you shagged one of the maids you were instantly expelled, but if you had anything to do with boys you got a severe ticking-off.
.....................
When we got older, nearly all of us fancied boys who looked like girls, but I think it was pretty rare that anything actually happened - there was a curious platonic, romantic attitude.
.......
At my prep school, Copthorne, there was a fair bit of leaping in and out of beds in dormitaries, comparing notes, and general exploration.
............
Relationships were going on, but it was less the love that dare not speak its name than the fact that if you put 1,200 testosterone-fuelled boys in an enclosed space there is bound to be some cross-fertilisation.


Some 'talking about it' does seem to be implied (and possibly boasting) - 'comparing notes'.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: janjo on April 17, 2008, 05:33:02 AM
Interesting. Thank you, Des.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Ministering angel on April 17, 2008, 05:50:51 AM
"Straight" m2m sex certainly isn't just a British thing. My sister-in-law is a prison officer in a male maximum security prison here ..... But there's a lot of power games mixed in with that sort of situation so it's not quite as clearcut as two men on a mountain for four months. Still, there's footy teams and goodness knows what else.  ;) I just heard a Nobel Laureate (Australian) say on TV that he had never been into that masculine thing, footy teams, hot tubs, etc. He preferred women as companions as well as sexual partners. Now there's an odd way of looking at it. A bunch of masculine men in a hot tub. The idea that there might be some expedient poking is not so far-fetched.

I noted in "The Front Runner", written in 1974, that the author passes on the info that gays in Colorado were referred to as "sheepherders". I wonder why.

Janjo, I don't see that anyone would have to boast about such a thing. I think you are applying an all-or-nothing approach to this. There is a lot of space between perfect silence about such goings-on and boasting.  I find it feasible that Ennis could have known - not known that it was a given that sheepherders poked each other, just that it sometimes happened and so there was a handy excuse after the fact. I do think that his unconcern about Aguirre points to this.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Ministering angel on April 17, 2008, 05:54:29 AM
BTW when Des refers to "fags" in  the article above, she's not meaning gays, rather "a student at a British public school who is required to perform menial tasks for a student in a higher class."  I used to use the term "I can't be fagged", meaning I haven't got the energy or inclination to do something.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Desecra on April 17, 2008, 06:05:07 AM
It also means a cigarette here, just to add to the confusion :).    Alma would have asked Ennis to get her some fags.   

Thanks for pointing that out.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: janjo on April 17, 2008, 06:19:30 AM
"Straight" m2m sex certainly isn't just a British thing. My sister-in-law is a prison officer in a male maximum security prison here ..... But there's a lot of power games mixed in with that sort of situation so it's not quite as clearcut as two men on a mountain for four months. Still, there's footy teams and goodness knows what else.  ;) I just heard a Nobel Laureate (Australian) say on TV that he had never been into that masculine thing, footy teams, hot tubs, etc. He preferred women as companions as well as sexual partners. Now there's an odd way of looking at it. A bunch of masculine men in a hot tub. The idea that there might be some expedient poking is not so far-fetched.

I noted in "The Front Runner", written in 1974, that the author passes on the info that gays in Colorado were referred to as "sheepherders". I wonder why.

Janjo, I don't see that anyone would have to boast about such a thing. I think you are applying an all-or-nothing approach to this. There is a lot of space between perfect silence about such goings-on and boasting.  I find it feasible that Ennis could have known - not known that it was a given that sheepherders poked each other, just that it sometimes happened and so there was a handy excuse after the fact. I do think that his unconcern about Aguirre points to this.

I just wondered if it happened? It is usually only the sort of thing that is referred to as having happened to other people, unless it is in a negative context, ie John Peel. (see Des'd link).
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Ministering angel on April 17, 2008, 06:35:09 AM
It doesn't matter whether it happened or not. It's the perception which is important. If he thinks it may happen because he's heard it happens, then that's all that's needed. The truth of what actually does or doesn't happen becomes irrelevant to Ennis.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Ministering angel on April 17, 2008, 06:36:28 AM
It also means a cigarette here, just to add to the confusion :).    Alma would have asked Ennis to get her some fags.   

Thanks for pointing that out.

Yes, fags=smokes is having a run on the PhotoCap thread at present.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on April 17, 2008, 08:25:10 AM
It's common knowledge that expedient sex does sometimes go on in all-male (and sometimes all-female), isolated circumstances*, so I think readers would be expected to know that.   It's often joked about.  (I'm sure I read something about Annie Proulx not giving the full background - she expects her readers to either know, or do their research.   It might have been from the time that Brokeback_1 and Tellyouwhat met her.   I'll see if I can dig it out).    That's the 'plausible' bit, I suppose - for the reader and Ennis.   What she doesn't make clear is whether Ennis would take it as a given that this went on in these particular circumstances (sheep herding) or whether he'd never heard of it. 

Of course, it's also 'common knowledge' that straight men don't normally have sex with each other, so you could say that there are two conflicting bits of knowledge.   In that case I'd go for the one that's hinted at in the story - a man has sex with another man and appears to think it's something straight men might do, and that reminds us of other situations where supposedly straight men have sex with each other.   We don't really need to know about the old sheep herder - for all we know, this could be the only time that two men had sex up there.    Again, I don't think it matters - it's the plausiblity:  Could it happen? rather than Did it happen frequently?  Was it talked about?

*Or is this just a British thing? :D  I'm starting to wonder ...
Hi, well if its an American thing, its not talked about in open circles, I can guarantee you that.....! I do believe it is done of course, just not acknowledged, openly. America is still more homophobic, I'd say, than other places, and that is just from general observation.. A huge bulk of the population, our baby boomers, are, many of them, close to what Jack and Ennis's ages would be-so we have 70 million people from an era that was still quite homophobic , running the top positions in companies, running studios, etc, teaching in schools, doctoring/nursing. So though that particular torch may not get passed down anymore, it's still here. I see it every single day, more or less. But I am in a more conservative area of the country, so I can't speak for the Eastern urban areas anymore, for example, but even my relatives pass comments sometimes, and certainly, people at work still do. Another example is how the talk show hosts freaked out or didn't over Brokeback Mountain: the middle-aged ones, like Jay Leno and Dave Letterman, made hphobic jokes, to both JG and HL,  with gazillions of viewers watching, basically reinforcing the hatred/fear. And even some of the younger ones did. So the negative stuff is talked about-or joked about.

The point is, it would not be perceived as acceptable-'no way'. Whatever numbers of  people that 'tolerate gays' as is often  said, would still be appalled at the idea of  straight men letting off steam with each other, or at least I think they would-? Again, if not, they are not willing to talk about it, in a way that I could say, for example, I knew it happened. The loss of the Oscar for BBM should more than demonstrate that-most Academy members did not speak out against the movie-they just didn't vote for it.

Just some feedback..long way to go.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Ministering angel on April 17, 2008, 08:30:51 AM
I don't think it's got all that much to do with societal attitudes. It's just the fact that if you put a big bunch of men together, some of them will want to have sex with something other than their hand. The attitudes about homosexuality play little part. IMHO of course. They are, in their eyes, still straight. It may be rape a la The Shawshank Redemption, or it may be consensual, but I bet it goes on in the US as well.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on April 17, 2008, 08:35:31 AM
I don't think it's got all that much to do with societal attitudes. It's just the fact that if you put a big bunch of men together, some of them will want to have sex with something other than their hand. The attitudes about homosexuality play little part. IMHO of course. They are, in their eyes, still straight. It may be rape a la The Shawshank Redemption, or it may be consensual, but I bet it goes on in the US as well.
I realize that...my point was, its not talked about, and many people WOULD associate it with homosexuality. Trust me on this, in terms of America. We have a stubborn streak about iconic masculinity.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Sandy on April 17, 2008, 08:40:51 AM
It's common knowledge that expedient sex does sometimes go on in all-male (and sometimes all-female), isolated circumstances*, so I think readers would be expected to know that. ~snip~

Of course, it's also 'common knowledge' that straight men don't normally have sex with each other, so you could say that there are two conflicting bits of knowledge.  ~snip~

If I may add my $0.02.

Two straight men have sex for expedience's sake, like in prisons. The only time I think you expect to find two straight men having sex while working is on a porn set that has put two gay-for-pay guys together in a scene.

When I first read the story in the anthology many years ago, Jack and Ennis having sex on the mountain did not for me fulfill an expectation that the author had set up (it hadn't occurred or been hinted about in the previous stories), it came as a surprise. There was no background expectation other than it is possible that two men can have sex. The second peice of common knowledge, as des puts it, was operative.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on April 17, 2008, 08:58:05 AM
So as a man, you'd know depending upon the environment, right? You'd certainly know more than a woman might know, I'm guessing, about what happens between two men, gay or straight.  You would still have knowledge that a woman would not have, but as relates to Wyoming, you just would not have that particular knowledge about sheepherders. 'operational', as you pointed out.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Sandy on April 17, 2008, 09:57:58 AM
Jo,

Can't make heads or tails out of what you wrote.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on April 17, 2008, 10:03:41 AM
Jo,

Can't make heads or tails out of what you wrote.
Sorry-it seemed clear in my head!

See below, maybe that is more comprehensible-I'm trying to avoid nesting.

Of course, no obligation to reply.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on April 17, 2008, 10:14:43 AM
author=Sandy link=topic=28390.msg1266960#msg1266960 date=1208443251]
[/quote]

If I may add my $0.02.

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Two straight men have sex for expedience's sake, like in prisons. The only time I think you expect to find two straight men having sex while working is on a porn set that has put two gay-for-pay guys together in a scene.

So as as a man, you'd know depending on the environment, right?

Quote
When I first read the story in the anthology many years ago, Jack and Ennis having sex on the mountain did not for me fulfill an expectation that the author had set up (it hadn't occurred or been hinted about in the previous stories), it came as a surprise. There was no background expectation other than it is possible that two men can have sex.

You would still have knowledge that a woman would not have, but as relates to Wyoming, you just would not have that particular knowledge about sheepherders. 'operational', as you pointed out.

 
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Sandy on April 17, 2008, 11:28:55 AM
Still not getting you, Jo.

What an ordinary person, regardless of their sex, would know is that M2M sex between straight-identifying men takes place in such environments as prison and, perhaps, the navy (if they've heard Churchill's discourse on naval traditions, "sodomy and grog"), where it may be called "practising for marriage."

M2M sex typically does not take place while the men are working. The only work environment I can imagine where M2M sex typically occurs between two straight guys is on a porn set, in which case they'd be considered "gay-for-pay."

It's not a matter, particularly, of background knowledge men or women would have had from out in the world. When I read BBM as the last story of AP's anthology of stories, I had built up a whole set of expectations from the text raised about what men, people might be inclined to do in wild, wooly Wyoming. Wasn't particularly my own knowledge or family tradition about Wyoming that came into play.

Since you essentially repeated your previous post, I'm still can't sure what you were getting at so I replied to what I believe to be a fair reconstruction of what you intended, but it could be wrong.

Are you really saying that a woman, qua woman, wouldn't have as part of her background knowledge that two "straight" guys might have sex in certain instances? Where would that woman have been living the past 40 years?  :D

BTW, the word used about expectations was "operative," not "operational."
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on April 17, 2008, 11:38:42 AM
No, Sandy..

I'm saying Ennis would know some things about sheepherders that another class of society might not; and as to general m/m sex, since women are not included, they may not have the first-hand knowledge to the degree men do, so those arguing that Ennis would not somehow know, are perhaps operating from a bit of an outsiders's perspective.  Are you  comprehending that last part?? This is not a general point I'm making; its tied to the convo about What Ennis knew.

Obviously we ALL know sex happens between straight men...I am talking about degree, and how much that might affect one's opinion about What Ennis knew.

Its very simple, actually.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Desecra on April 17, 2008, 11:43:56 AM
I don't know if matters too much what we know when we start reading.   By the time we get to the sex, we already know that they're falling for each other (I think), and that Jack was hugely important to Ennis.  So I don't think we really think about whether straight guys might do this.   We see them as two guys who are falling for each other and probably have SOME awareness of their attraction to each other if not their love.     We don't know yet about Ennis's homophobia, and his denial.

It's only later in the story that Ennis's denial comes up, and it's only then that we get to thinking about whether it was 'plausible' (as AP puts it) that a guy who believed he was straight could do this.    It's useful that Annie Proulx elaborated in the Story to Screenplay book, but it's not necessary.   

So we don't think 'straight guys sometimes have sex' and THEN think 'that's what Ennis thinks he's doing'.   We're given the clues about what Ennis thinks he's doing first.  Maybe we have some 'common knowledge' about that or not, maybe we've heard something similar to the shepherd's story or not, but whatever we believe has to fit to the story, rather than the other way around.  (for instance, we can't think 'the story says Ennis believes he's straight' as well as 'it would be impossible for a man to have sex with a man and believe he's straight', or we'll just go round in circles).
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on April 17, 2008, 11:52:21 AM
In a way, Des, that supports what I we were discussing last  night: Ennis has to work around what he must do with Jack. It doesn't mean he thinks its acceptable, per se, but that he must come up with a rationalization. Jack comes first, IMO.

And clearly, he does.

 And the further evidence, I think, is that he does separate Jack and him, from Earl and Rich, later on. So we know he saw what they were doing as something not leading up to living together-in his mind. He is not going to be one of them guys....and he has to see Earl as 'queer' in order for the 'lesson' to be learned.

Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: royandronnie on April 17, 2008, 06:53:17 PM
~We seem to have a bit of a rule here: if it's relevant, it's in the story. Otherwise, not. And it's not in the story, in word, or hint--unless you count Joe watching rather than tire-ironing a hint.

  :o Somebody call the police!  This person is claiming to be CSI which is quite impossible!  The real CSI always says "Show me the text" and "Show me where she tells us that" and so forth -- I must have read it 90 times if I've read it once!  Why, you would think she was from Missouri, not Arizona!   But now all of a sudden, this person claiming to be CSI is all like, yes but...., OK but possibly...., er ah maybe but if...   My question for this new CSI is:  "If what you say is true, show me what page it is written on.  No if, ands, buts, possiblies or maybes!"   :D But really CSI, can't have it both ways...

Shit. I hate this. You are perfectly correct, Dal, and I must withdraw my line of reasoning. In my defense, I have to say that I did leap in with great glee to turn the usual NK-based argument--which also applies to any later incarnations of the DE--ie. "show me the place where she says it happened" back on those who are usually on that side of the argument: "Hey! You can't argue all the time that what's not in the story didn't happen and then say that something not mentioned/hinted at/alluded to in the story, concerning an important story point, should be taken as read!"

But I still think that it's important to the consistency of Ennis' demonstrated pattern of fear/retaliation/denial/avoidance, to the depiction of him as both shown and implied as ALONE, and to the depiction of him as a man without subtlety or emotional growth/maturity, that he does not come to Brokeback with ANY idea that, should he feel horny, it's okay to fuck the guy he's up there with. Sandy says much the same as I did last night: prison is one thing, where the sex would often not be consensual. Or being stuck on a ship for months with thousands of other horny guys. But one on one, for just a few months, especially if you weren't sexually experienced with anyone else, male or female--there just wouldn't be any assumption that sex would, or even could happen. You'd go up there expecting to wank a lot. And maybe them sheep would get to lookin pretty good after six or eight weeks. I had seen the movie by the time I read the story, and still, the abruptness of FNIT comes as a surprise. The movie doesn't exactly brim over with sexual tension up to that point, but the story is even more abrupt. You know something is going to happen, that's obvious from the beginning, but still--Ennis just screws him. It's a surprise.

And it's a surprise to Ennis. And that's why it's okay. He can say to himself "it's not like I WANTED it, it just happened, but being as it happened, and I'm not queer, well, it was fun, and he seems to be willing, so what the hell." It's Jack who says "one shot thing." Ennis isn't worried about anything but not being gay. And if he knew all about shepherd sex, then surely he would presume Jack did too--so why does he need to make a statement about it? It's just expedient sex. But the statement IS necessary, because Ennis was an island, drifting along in his silent, frightened world, not interested in people much, just living hand-to-mouth, interacting only when forced to. His isolation is critical to his fate, as well. There are two times the relationship is discussed. In both cases, Ennis rejects what Jack wants. In both cases, however, Jack puts up a fight and gets something for his trouble, though in the last case, though Ennis is moved, what leverage he might have been able to make of that is forever lost.

I'm really sleepy right now, so I can't bring my whole intellect to bear on this, but the major idea I'm trying to present here is that I think if you take Ennis as a whole, it's not consistent psychologically for him to walk willingly into a situation in which he knows that he might be approached for male/male sex, however fun or winked-at it might be. If we are to understand that gay boys realize early that they are different from other boys, then on some level, he must have known he had something to worry about. He would have avoided such a situation like the plague--because he would have been afraid of finding out he wanted to catch it. It's one thing to accept something that starts by accident, and rationalize it. All murder mysteries work that way: it's the first killing that's hard. For a woman, at least, losing your virginity is similar: it's the first decision that's the big one. Ennis would never have put himself knowingly into a situation where he had that decision to make.

Because he'd already made it, you see…
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on April 17, 2008, 07:07:06 PM

~We seem to have a bit of a rule here: if it's relevant, it's in the story. Otherwise, not. And it's not in the story, in word, or hint--unless you count Joe watching rather than tire-ironing a hint.

But there are other things that she assumes we know about, too, in terms of common sense; for example, the marrying Jack does-we don't need to have Lureen called a beard to know that is what she is... or to see it as being implied, ie, the 'other things' from rodeoing. I think she said she expects her reader to have some knowledge of the subject..this is different than the actual narration of events. There may be [...possibly....maybe...if...wouldn't...couldn't...this and that..etc etc etc]


  :o Somebody call the police!  This person is claiming to be CSI which is quite impossible!  The real CSI always says "Show me the text" and "Show me where she tells us that" and so forth -- I must have read it 90 times if I've read it once!  Why, you would think she was from Missouri, not Arizona!   But now all of a sudden, this person claiming to be CSI is all like, yes but...., OK but possibly...., er ah maybe but if...   My question for this new CSI is:  "If what you say is true, show me what page it is written on.  No if, ands, buts, possiblies or maybes!"   :D But really CSI, can't have it both ways...

BTW:  "But there are other things that she assumes we know about, too, in terms of common sense"  I'm not entirely convinced about that idea -- i.e. that our knowledge of routine, run-of-the-mill expedient poking can be taken for granted, because we have common sense.  Is  that knowledge really to be compared with, say, knowing that Lureen is a 'beard?'  Annie herself didn't know anything about the expedient poking, until the ancient, wizened sheepman told her.  I don't think common sense can be relied upon here.  In fact, on the contrary. 
Hard to not do nesting here, so I'll make an exception.

First of all, I'll try later whne I'm less tired  ;D to figure out the mockery... ;D ;D

Secondly, I'm open to revising my 'common sense' remark, no problem.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on April 17, 2008, 08:45:12 PM
After debating rather with our usual enthusiasm, person to person with Charlotte, I capitulated the following-not that anyone cares  :D :D:

1)If Ennis knows about m/m, he does not need to know it from the Sheepherding School of Expedient Poking;
I think he would know, somehow, about m/m, though. He is more likely to have heard about it, than not, IMO, being around people living with a certain degree of deprivation, ie, ranchhands...

2)I will retract that it is 'common knowledge', your honor, in that time and place-i agree it would be specilized knowledge if the only basis is sheepherding. I do think AP was using that as the context, though, because she brought it up. What is anther purpose of it, is my question, but to try to make it acceptable to-who, Aguirre? who if not Ennis?

3)If Ennis does not know about m/m, he still sees himself as straight, and the way he manages it has to do with a topic we can't talk about. Actually, we both agreed that they see themselves, or Ennis does, as straight. So however he does that, it allows him to continue.

FWIW
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Ministering angel on April 17, 2008, 09:33:47 PM


Are you really saying that a woman, qua woman, wouldn't have as part of her background knowledge that two "straight" guys might have sex in certain instances? Where would that woman have been living the past 40 years?  :D



There always have been situations that women as women don't know about, unless the beans are spilled by a man. And there's no guarantee that all women are ever privvy to such information. The football trips, the sort of alcohol-and-testosterone occasions where if a woman is involved she's usually been paid for, are kind of secret men's business. There's a bit of a nod and a wink and veiled references about what goes on, or might go on, but unless someone specifically says This or that happened, it's all a bit of a mystery.

And I suspect it is a mystery to a lot of men too, although they are more likely to get told about such happening since they are part of the club of men.

Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on April 17, 2008, 09:43:49 PM
I think in the past, that was very true. Today, we are exposed to so much damn knowledge....I have to admit , even as a teenager, I did not imagine straight men doin it-I definitely  would have thought them gay. I don't know when it became part of my consciousness, but it was not thru RL-it was literature, I think..I am guessing my first inkling was reading The Persian Boy and realizing that men could be married and still stud around with other guys...I don't recall thinking Alexander was actually gay, or anything.  But I had a very parochial, sheltered upbringing-I had a number of suprises awaiting me in adulthood! So I admit,  I represent only a certain percentage of the population back then....yet knowing what I know today,  I see now it was likely many others had knowledge I was removed from.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Desecra on April 17, 2008, 11:46:35 PM
I'm sure I've read personal accounts on this forum of straight-identified men having sex with men - if not here, I have definitely read about it (from the point of view of their gay lovers).  I think we all have, haven't we?    I think that in a homophobic society it's bound to happen - some men who want to have sex with men will deny what it means.   Make relationships between men more acceptable in a group, even if within limits, (as in the English public schools, ancient Greece, the navy, etc.), and you seem to get a fair bit of spillover - men who would otherwise be 'straight' having sex with men.   I think we all know that - we can take that as 'common knowledge'.   We really don't need to know the specifics of Annie Proulx's interview with the old sheepherder to know that. 

But the fact that she talks about it, is a hint of what's in the book.   She needed a situation where it would be 'plausible' that they would get together, and she elaborates by pointing out that straight men used to get together in this situation.     It's a clue to what she's telling us in the book (and what is missing from the film, perhaps, although it's debatable) - that Ennis was not aware of being gay, and that he could only have got together with Jack, initially, in a 'plausible' situation - a situation where he could continue to not be aware he was gay even while having sex, for a time. 

As soon as Ennis had the thought that what they were doing was gay, he was going to think of Earl.   I think for story Ennis, that if that had kicked in as soon as Jack made his advance, things wouldn't have gone any further.    Because it was plausible that they could have sex and still be straight, Ennis subconsciously clings to that (avoiding anything which would tell him otherwise, whether you think that's just limiting the sex to quick, rough, fun, speechless grappling, or if you think it's limited even further) because of his need to be with Jack.   That means that after the sex starts, his feelings can continue to develop, up until the dozy embrace, the full expression of love. 

We're given plenty of information in the book to know that.    We're not told for certain, whether Ennis had an idea in his head that sheepherders, in particular, sent two guys up for that reason.   I think it's possibly hinted that Jack knew and had had experience with a straight guy the year before. 
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Desecra on April 18, 2008, 12:59:41 AM
I'm really sleepy right now, so I can't bring my whole intellect to bear on this, but the major idea I'm trying to present here is that I think if you take Ennis as a whole, it's not consistent psychologically for him to walk willingly into a situation in which he knows that he might be approached for male/male sex, however fun or winked-at it might be.

Yes, I don't think he is thinking about sex when they start working together or even when he gets into the tent.   (They've already spent a sexless night in the tent together, after all).   The point is really whether he thinks the sex means he's gay once he starts doing it.   I don't think he does - whether that's due to prior knowledge of this happening with straight men (maybe he recalled some of the jokes), or because it's plausible that it could happen.    The sheepherder story is a later addition for us - we find out that not only was it plausible, but it was fairly common.   But it's not needed, I don't think.  I think it's also clear that from the beginning, Ennis's denial is instinctive rather than intellectual - he manages the first night in the tent in such a way that his denial isn't challenged too much.  (Later, it becomes more intellectual, of course).

I think most of us (not all) agree that he was in denial on Brokeback - he thought they were both straight, and that's why we don't see the fear and shame.   (And that's what the K/NK argument comes down to on the end - I think we agree on the denial, we just differ on how much Ennis actively avoided knowing the truth).
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on April 18, 2008, 05:23:54 AM
'Ennis subconsciously clings to that (avoiding anything which would tell him otherwise, whether you think that's just limiting the sex to quick, rough, fun, speechless grappling, or if you think it's limited even further) because of his need to be with Jack.   That means that after the sex starts, his feelings can continue to develop, up until the dozy embrace, the full expression of love.'

That to me is a good explanation in a nutshell. I always see Jack as the key; were Ennis not so in love with him, he would not need to do the mental contortions along with the stated physical ones..


This is a bit out there perhaps, but:
 I've been thinking about the 'torquing' in the end: It had to be awkward and a bit difficult, no? Torquing reguires some muscle, if you think of a torque wrench, right? So they kind of had to force the relationship backwards to a certain point-so Jack MUST have recanted some of what he said. I am guessing he told Ennis he didn't really mean it, about the quitting-but then had the DE thoughts later, and then whatever happened, happened. I don't think Ennis would've recanted the idea of killing jack-Not that that is what he actually meant to do-because that would be a step forward, no? they need to torque BACK to where they were, so there had to be some sort of recanting of things said. Because where they were was in a state of not verbalizing things, that they had to get almost back to-and to do that, there had to be a neutralization of whatever was said,  that got the door unlocked fore a few minutes. It had to be locked back up-almost. If you recall the Reunion, it had to go back to 'You do it with other guys Jack?' 'Hell,no.' But in this case, it would be, 'I just went to Mexico once or twice, it didn't mean anything.' If Jack had made Ennis wonder about the ranch neighbor, he surely got him to un-wonder..no way Ennis could move forward knowing that particular truth. An occasional whore is one thing-Ennis could associate that with what straight men do-visit whores, to relieve stress. And Ennis has already shown, he is willing to blame the wives-he felt short-changed with Alma.  But an emotionally needed relationship, well-its the whole reason, I think, he keeps the trips to a minimum, to reduce the appearance of a "relationship". I've always felt it was a lot more than just his jobs...


thoughts??
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Desecra on April 18, 2008, 07:21:18 AM
I don't think so - I still feel the torquing was largely silent - that the point of it was about putting the lid on things and not talking about them.   There was 'no news' - all this stuff had been there, but the difference was that it had been said out loud.   So I think Ennis knew all along about other men.  He must have known about the ranch neighbour the night before. 
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on April 18, 2008, 05:30:39 PM
So you see, what hugging good-bye? I think there had to be a follow-up verbalizing, myself. Something to lock it back down-then no talking.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: royandronnie on April 18, 2008, 05:35:52 PM
Yes, I would agree that it was silent--and I mean silent. It was silence that characterized nearly all their relationship--as Desecra says, what's different is that some of it finally comes out into the open.

I do wonder, though, Desecra, why you are so sure Ennis knew about Randall. (I am not saying I disagree with you, exactly.) For that matter, I am moved to wonder now, as I have in the past, at another of those things Annie doesn't tell us: how DOES Ennis know? I mean, he has a vested interest in NOT knowing. And Jack sure doesn't tell him anything. I wonder if Jack ever mentioned a friend in 20 years more disturbingly than "friend a mine thinks wheat's gone a be more expensive next year." I don't think he talked about going fishing with Randall! Who knows? Maybe he got massages on his business trips that then became sexual encounters. Then he gave Ennis a massage that turned sexual. Then Ennis got to wondering if it had been sexual with Jack's masseur.

Ennis did know. Of that I'm as sure as everyone else. But how DID he know? Annie goes to such trouble to emphasize how their backgrounds limited their ability to understand even themselves, and she sure lets us know Ennis is a master of denial. So HOW DOES HE KNOW?
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on April 18, 2008, 05:52:59 PM
I used to assume it was all physical-but I knew it remained a mystery. 'somehow' they torqued things back. So is the embrace, in the movie, assumed to be pretty reasonable? I'm not convinced yet...i think the no talking does not have to be literal-just no talking about 'it'.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Ministering angel on April 18, 2008, 06:07:23 PM
I still think the template provided by the first goodbye has its uses. Jack is sporting a great big bruise yet nothing is said about it. Ennis avoids looking at it. He avoids looking at the sign of his attack which came about through his recognition that this was more than a summer's sexual fun. He punches Jack for ministering to him, for effectively taking the - wait for it, folks! - nurturing caring role, the role of the mother, the nurse, the - gasp! - wife.

So it goes something like this:-
nosebleed, ministering (i.e. indicating the queerness of the situation) / admitting to going to Mexico
punch / "...all them things I don't know..."

second time around, Jack won't get caught again. Instead he comes back fighting, and it's Ennis who physically goes down. But Jack is felled emotionally. He doesn't know what caused it other than that it was a direct result of what he said. Same on the mountain - you can almost hear Jack muttering, "What did I do?" And he never finds out. The explanation Ennis gives four years later does not clear it up for him at all. He spends sixteen years thinking it's about fear and never knowing it's about shame. Jack is left in 1983 to feel he can never get it right with Ennis. He's the inadequate little toddler being whipped and humiliated by his father. And he's on thew wrong side of the divide when Ennis aligns himself with the good ole boys from Sage.

The first time around, they part without sorting this out. The second time around .....

"You goin a do this next summer?" asks Jack / "So, you be back in November?" says Jack, totally on the back foot both times
"Maybe not. Alma, blah blah. You?" / Waffly, non-committal answer, then "You?"
"If nothin better comes along. Back to daddy, then to Texas, if the draft don't get me." / Thinks: Gotta be somethin better'n this. See daddy, back to Texas. With my luck I'll get killed by an exploding tire/air/wind/draft.
"See you around, I guess" / Non-committal goodbye.

And Ennis goes home wanting Jack, and Jack goes home wanting Ennis.

Just a suggestion. Maybe the postcard saying how he can't get time off earlier (read: I tried, Jack) is like his understanding about how he feels ("took me about a year") Ennis expects Jack to come back, just as he did in 1963. I suspect the diner scene in the film is the visual pair of the dry heaves in the alley.

Meanwhile, Jack in 1963 tries to quit Ennis and make a new life but discovers he can't do it. (I can hear Desecra's hands rubbing together here). Same thing in 1983 - maybe if he makes a new life for himself he can forget Ennis. But he dies, and I think he dies through misadventure caused by a lack of care. He was right: he didn't know how to quit Ennis.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on April 18, 2008, 06:55:40 PM
I like the 'I'll try' idea of talking without saying much..they at least have to go back to before, 'I did once' or the beginning of the drop-off into Fearville, for Ennis.

I think, too, that Jack can't leave it with, IWIK,, because he sees the impact on Ennis. And Ennis has done or said something that causes the follow up of, 'august still looked like the first chance'-so he is trying, like you said-and he must've let Jack know. Not really progress; more of a "cooperate, to get things back to where we are at least comfortable" sort of thing.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Desecra on April 18, 2008, 11:15:53 PM
Yes, I would agree that it was silent--and I mean silent. It was silence that characterized nearly all their relationship--as Desecra says, what's different is that some of it finally comes out into the open.

I do wonder, though, Desecra, why you are so sure Ennis knew about Randall. (I am not saying I disagree with you, exactly.) For that matter, I am moved to wonder now, as I have in the past, at another of those things Annie doesn't tell us: how DOES Ennis know? I mean, he has a vested interest in NOT knowing. And Jack sure doesn't tell him anything. I wonder if Jack ever mentioned a friend in 20 years more disturbingly than "friend a mine thinks wheat's gone a be more expensive next year." I don't think he talked about going fishing with Randall! Who knows? Maybe he got massages on his business trips that then became sexual encounters. Then he gave Ennis a massage that turned sexual. Then Ennis got to wondering if it had been sexual with Jack's masseur.

Ennis did know. Of that I'm as sure as everyone else. But how DID he know? Annie goes to such trouble to emphasize how their backgrounds limited their ability to understand even themselves, and she sure lets us know Ennis is a master of denial. So HOW DOES HE KNOW?

I tend to think that the clues have to be in the story.   We're not really given anything happening between the reunion and the last meeting that would make Ennis know, so I think it must have been dawning on him at the reunion, or even before.  (Just not on Brokeback).   It MUST have popped into his mind a year after Brokeback when he starts thinking about it.   He goes through this whole rationalisation for himself, but at that time, he doesn't have an accompanying rationalisation for Jack.    He must also see in retrospect that Jack made the first move, and possibly even that Jack was eager to accept anal sex (it's not a problem for Ennis on the mountain, but once the seeds of doubt are sown ..... the Patterson book has an interesting part about the different attitudes to being the giver or receiver).    I imagine he then puts that out of his mind, because his love for Jack takes over.

Then at the reunion, it turns out Jack is thankfully married with a kid.    But as the conversation goes on, more doubts are raised. He hints at 'other reasons' for getting out of bull-riding (which prompts Ennis's words about not being gay), and says that his father-in-law will give him money to get lost (which makes Ennis say 'whoa').  The draft didn't get him, and it maybe crosses Ennis's mind that he wasn't 'suitable' (there is thunder when the subject comes up.   I've heard that in the UK some people were excluded from the forces for being gay - maybe it was the same there).  Jack pauses before denying that he's gay, and he has no rationalisation to go along with Ennis's - it doesn't seem to be something he's thought about.     Jack dismisses 'this happen a other people?' implying that he knows it's not happening to him.   And let's face it, we don't hear of it happening to other people - Ennis knows it's happening to him, but what are the chances that it's happening to Jack too?  I think there are subtle clues in the conversation, and with the seed of doubt there, Ennis picks up on them.   I don't think there's an 'aha' moment, but the clues become too much for Ennis to deny.

Jack has been braced for it all these years, so even he knows it's not a recent discovery of Ennis's - I think he means that he's been braced for it since the reunion. 

So when Jack finally mentions that he's having an affair, Ennis has to have suspicions, at least.    I think it's one of the of the things that leads to Ennis blowing up about Mexico.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on April 18, 2008, 11:45:57 PM
Actually, there is a bit of an a-ha moment:

Ennis asks Jack, 'you do it with other guys? Jack?' Jack hesitates-that must've set off alarm bells in Ennis. He was gathering his lie. The question was simple, but  it caught Jack off-guard, so he didn't answer immediately. Ennis has to re-address him, with 'Jack?'
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Desecra on April 19, 2008, 12:00:59 AM
Yes, that's the pause I mentioned - it's a bit of a giveaway, but I'm not sure I see Ennis reacting to that in particular (he goes on to say that he shouldn't have let Jack go).   I think it's a buildup of all the clues.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on April 19, 2008, 06:01:06 AM
Sure, I was just pointing out a stand-out moment....I think it was put there for a reason, part of the 'negotiating' of the relationship as AP noted.

You'll recall, I think Ennis had a clue about Jack on BBM, so he wants some reassurance, esp after the activities in the motel....I wonder what he thought of Jack's pov, since he more recently figured out how he felt-How could he not guess Jack also had similiar feelings, since he knows he had to try to make him 'hear good'? I think Ennis does get a clue, perhaps-and  we know Jack has more experience now, with not rolling his own-that Jack's been around the block a bit....but  I'm not sure I am totally cozy with how the rationalization about Jack works at that moment, other than the fact that it does, for him.

I am more inclined to believe he knows rather early about Jack, and continues to build a wall-which would account for his  immediate anger at Jack in the last scene, over, 'I did once.' As Jack thinks, here it came, finally-He must've sensed it brewing in Ennis,now and again. So much they knew about each other without saying. Ennis just missed the really important thing he learns of with the shirts.

I hope you can follow that-its not ultra clear, I know.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Desecra on April 19, 2008, 06:19:48 AM
Yes, I follow.  His view of Jack's POV is interesting.   If he was in complete denial on Brokeback - what does he think about Jack, after the event?   There are two options- Jack was in complete denial as well (he didn't know he was attracted to Ennis) or Jack wasn't (he knew he was attracted to Ennis but didn't let on).   Unless Ennis can believe the first, he has to know Jack has been covering up all along. 

If he ever does continue along that line of thought he might feel as if he was 'tricked' into Brokeback, in a way - that they got there under false pretences.   I know he doesn't feel that at the end, and I'm not sure he even feels it ever.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Dal on April 19, 2008, 07:06:22 AM
~There are two options- Jack was in complete denial as well (he didn't know he was attracted to Ennis)  ~I'm not sure [Ennis] even feels it ever.
!!! (http://i46.photobucket.com/albums/f104/vcdrtPH/taffy-making-machine.jpg)

That seems like a stretch!  Surely he knew when he found the shirts? 
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on April 19, 2008, 07:18:15 AM
author=Desecra link=topic=28390.msg1268976#msg1268976 date=1208607588]
Quote
Yes, I follow.  His view of Jack's POV is interesting.   If he was in complete denial on Brokeback - what does he think about Jack, after the event?   There are two options- Jack was in complete denial as well (he didn't know he was attracted to Ennis) or Jack wasn't (he knew he was attracted to Ennis but didn't let on).   Unless Ennis can believe the first, he has to know Jack has been covering up all along. 


Yes, you'd think he must wonder what Jack was on about, on BBM, while Ennis was thinking it was just buddy-effing...I think he suspects Jack moreso now that he is back in his arms, of course; and I am thinking he does what he always does: Dismisses his doubts with rationalizations, because Jack has something that disproves that BBM was anything more than the fun: He has a wife and a child-a son, no less. That I think is imperative in impressing upon Ennis that Jack somehow, must be in the same boat-straight, but with a 'thing' for Ennis. He does tell Ennis, its a 'one-shot thing'...Or Ennis may not go too far in considering Jack's feelings, although he does ask him if he's been with other men...That makes sense, too, seeing how stunned he is with the shirts. I doubt he ever considers the love quotient in terms of Jack.

He may just ask JAck that question mostly because he wonders about himself....

It just dawned on me; 'one shot thing'-Jack; 'if this thing grabs on us'-Ennis. Maybe he's latched onto Jack's actual lie on BBM-he' jumped in quickly', remember-as a life preserver.

Quote
If he ever does continue along that line of thought he might feel as if he was 'tricked' into Brokeback, in a way - that they got there under false pretences.   I know he doesn't feel that at the end, and I'm not sure he even feels it ever.

That is an ambiguous little issue, there, I think.. I don't get a sense he blames Jack per se.  But I do think when he feels doubtful about himself, he turns it on Jack-we see that in the last scene, and for the first time, with the punch. To me, that's all about, 'I might be queer-and its your fault!'
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Desecra on April 19, 2008, 10:50:14 AM
That seems like a stretch!

Yes, too much of a stretch for Ennis to fully believe, I think.  For himself, he knows that he didn't understand what he felt until a year later.   But for Jack - for a start, Jack went back to Brokeback less than a year later - so he probably became aware more quickly than Ennis.  And if Ennis follows that back, Jack could have been aware of the attraction on Brokeback, even when he made that first move.    I think Ennis probably understand that - that Jack knew he was attracted all along.

Quote
Surely he knew when he found the shirts?


You mean he knew Jack was gay, or he knew Jack knew Jack was gay? :).   I think he already knows those but the shirts also show that Jack was aware of the strength of feeling back then, at the time.   
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Rosewood on April 19, 2008, 11:46:54 AM
author=Desecra link=topic=28390.msg1268976#msg1268976 date=1208607588]
Quote
Yes, I follow.  His view of Jack's POV is interesting.   If he was in complete denial on Brokeback - what does he think about Jack, after the event?   There are two options- Jack was in complete denial as well (he didn't know he was attracted to Ennis) or Jack wasn't (he knew he was attracted to Ennis but didn't let on).   Unless Ennis can believe the first, he has to know Jack has been covering up all along. 


...Yes, you'd think he must wonder what Jack was on about, on BBM, while Ennis was thinking it was just buddy-effing...


....That is an ambiguous little issue, there, I think.. I don't get a sense he blames Jack per se.  But I do think when he feels doubtful about himself, he turns it on Jack-we see that in the last scene, and for the first time, with the punch. To me, that's all about, 'I might be queer-and its your fault!'

Some thoughts on a lazy, sunny Saturday afternoon:

Oh, he blames Jack all right. Honestly, I think that Ennis really believes if it weren't for Jack,
he'd [Ennis] be straight. This, on its face, is amazing, but I think Ennis has convinced himself of it.
'You made me love you, I didn't want to do it, I didn't want to do it...'

As for Ennis blaming Jack for knowing all along and covering it up - I don't think so.
I just don't think that Ennis ever gets that far. This would have to come upon him after much soul
searching and introspection and consideration and I just don't see this in Ennis. My feeling is that
Ennis just assumes that Jack is like him in all the ways the wants to face and in the ways that he
doesn't want to face, well, he just isn't. If Ennis thinks or assumes that Jack is fighting it in the same
way that Ennis does, then it's okay or at least, as okay as it's every gonna' be. Because then they
can both blame circumstances beyond their control.

Even the proposal of marriage (the C&C operation) doesn't disabuse Ennis of this pretense.
After all, Ennis does 'straighten' Jack out as to 'how it's gonna' be' from then on.

It is later, at the confrontation when it dawns on him that perhaps Jack is different, that the surprise
of it rocks him. NOT the surprise that Jack went with other men, I believe Ennis suspected this all
along, but the surprise that Jack may have been comfortable BEING gay or, at least, did not HATE
it the way Ennis did.

But I'll tell you something CSI, I don't agree that Ennis thought that what they were doing on BBM was
just 'buddy-effing' (what a revolting idea). No. I see him conflicted from the getgo, torn apart by what is
happening (I'm talking film here - the moment when he rides away from Jack the morning after,
the moment when he approaches Jack later, on the mountain, overlooking the sheep, the moments
when he doesn't want to leave after Jack tells him they must - Aguirre and the weather have decreed it).
To me, this shows there was always more to it than that, even from the beginning.
Even for Ennis.
We know from the taking of the shirts that it was ALWAYS more for Jack.

Otherwise, I think, it would have been much easier for Ennis to reconcile himself.
Now, s/s Ennis might be a different kettle of fish.
S/s Ennis is more pragmatic about things, less torn.
The way they say their goodbyes at the bottom of the mountain seems more forced then in the film.
In the s/s they DO pretend to be buddies saying goodbye. Buddies. It seems a cruel hoax.
Ennis has already been hoisted by his own petard.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on April 19, 2008, 11:51:27 AM
I know you don't -its an eternal and fundamental disagreement. But also, I am exaggerating a bit. He was euphoric about it, so it was certainly more. But what he tells himself, when he intellectualizes it, while on BBM, has to be different that the conclusion he has come to 4 years later.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: royandronnie on April 19, 2008, 09:04:25 PM
Well, I don't know about Ennis and Jack--but you certainly set me straight! I just don't pick up on things like that: "You ever do it with other guys? Jack?" I never saw a pause in there. But the first question mark makes one. And yes, eventually it must occur to Ennis that Jack reached for him. In the s/s, this is more overt: they are both wide awake. In the movie, Jack is shown as being half asleep, and Ennis probably never had any idea what really happened. For all he knew, he might have already had his arm around Jack and then Jack just got hold of his hand. But he surely does feel the pulling--so that's a clue.

I have come around, painfully, to the idea that a substantial part of "you been to Mexico?" is that Ennis does not want his comfortable lie upset and can't keep it in anymore. But I do think there is also jealousy: he does love Jack, and Jack has been under his command all these years--it must be horrifying to find out for sure that Jack has been unfaithful. There's an element of self-torture there, even in the story: he knows before the words are out what Jack is going to say, and it isn't just scary, it also hurts--he hasn't been Jack's only one. This is earth-shaking for Ennis. It must be. And for sure, the way Heath plays it, there is jealousy in the mix. You can see the pain of betrayal.

Also, I have to wonder if Ennis' paranoia isn't at play here: does he really BELIEVE instinctively that Jack has a boyfriend and not a girlfriend--or is that just Ennis always finding the worst-case scenario? It wasn't an accident, it was a tire iron; if Jack says he's after the wife, it's the husband. I think both are at work, really.

But I do like being able to point to specific occurrences in the story as pointers to Ennis' suspicions: Jack made the first move, Jack made the second move (postcard), and Jack seems to have to be prompted to deny being with other guys. It is even possible, seeing that Ennis is admitting to desiring him, and wishing he hadn't let Jack get away, that Jack was thinking about fessing up, denying of course that the guys meant anything. But the prompt of "Jack?" makes it clear Ennis needs him to say no.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on April 19, 2008, 09:38:53 PM
Glad you read the pause the same way.....

I don't think Ennis believes about the RN instinctively-I think his instincts are to deny....So IMO, he comes to thinking it gradually, but it is near, I think, to the last fight, because we know he is not suprised at LF; he just apparently had suspicions confirmed-'so he knew then it had been the tire iron.' NO mention of him reeling over the RN news-that should have been a real shocker, if he didn't know beforehand....Lureen telling him Jack had 'friends' may have synched it. Its a bit of a mystery, really.

I am guessing it's part of what triggers his anger at 'I did once'...So I'm leaning more towards it happening overnight, more or less-just not at the moment of the lie...I think he has an inkling about it, because keep in mind, when has Jack ever made such a strong bid for his affections as he did the night before? And he is copping to an honest- to- goodness affair-where did this come from, after 16 years?  The unspoken agreement 16 years ago was Jack will not admit to other men-'what I don't know, all them things,etc'. So Ennis's knowledge about Jack is definitely not like the denial about himself-he stays on guard about Jack, very near the surface I think-cuz his anger is so split-second.  Ennis is no dummy-I think he is very intuitive about people, and he just dismisses things about his sexuality... But he does scapegoat Jack, IMO.

Just some more thoughts about it....pause. ;)
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Ministering angel on April 19, 2008, 11:07:30 PM
While we're playing "Important Lines", there's always "He wanted to curse her for letting Jack die on the dirt road." IOW, if Lureen had done a good job, Jack would not have gone to other men. He would have been like Ennis, happy with the one man and therefore, by Ennis's definition of himself, not queer.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Desecra on April 19, 2008, 11:21:06 PM
But I do like being able to point to specific occurrences in the story as pointers to Ennis' suspicions: Jack made the first move, Jack made the second move (postcard), and Jack seems to have to be prompted to deny being with other guys. It is even possible, seeing that Ennis is admitting to desiring him, and wishing he hadn't let Jack get away, that Jack was thinking about fessing up, denying of course that the guys meant anything. But the prompt of "Jack?" makes it clear Ennis needs him to say no.

I agree.   I think that Jack arrived meaning to lie - he probably imagined that Ennis was in a similar position to him.  It's only when Ennis prompts him that the lie comes out. 

It's a temporary lie, I think.  He's dealt with Ennis's denial on Brokeback, which Ennis now seems to have got over, and I think the lie is meant to tide them over until the next stage, when Ennis is even MORE accepting.    Jack fully expects to be challenged about it again (i.e. he knows that Ennis knows, and expects Ennis to bring it up) - he's braced for it. 
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Desecra on April 21, 2008, 12:45:53 AM
I was going to post this on Jack's Fate, but it looks like that's a defunct thread now - glad to see we resolved it all!  :D   I noticed it was being talked about on S&I and the Eric Patterson thread - I don't have anything much to say about the symbolism so I thought I'd bring it over here.

We don't know how Jack died, and I don't think we're meant to know.   We just get the same information as Ennis at that point, and are left with that doubt.  I just thought I'd get that out of the way first, because I don't have a strong opinion on how he died, and I think the story probably works better if we don't know. 

There are three main possibilities - murder, suicide or accident.

One of the problems with believing any of the explanations is the coincidence factor.   I mentioned this over at the Eric Patterson thread - Jack doesn't just happen to die between meetings, but dies probably within days of a series of unusual events - the Mexico argument, Ennis's collapse, Jack's dozy embrace thoughts, and the change of the person coming up to Lightning Flats.    Although an accident is perfectly plausible, it seems terribly coincidental that it occurred immediately after these happenings.   If we're going to avoid coincidence, then I think we have to look at how the happenings might have led to Jack's death.

The first, most obvious option is murder.   This follows - Ennis believes that Jack was murdered because he became more 'out' about the relationship in Texas (telling his wife he was leaving, etc.) and that follows nicely.   There's a clear path from the happenings above to Jack's death. 

But this would mean that (a) Jack dies in exactly the way Ennis imagined (coincidence again - why involve a tire iron?   Why not some other weapon? etc.) and (b) that the murder was covered up by the authorities.   The cover up I'm not sure about - we're shown with Earl's death that not only are gay men murdered but that (presumably) a very obvious murder (the body was mutilated - this wasn't a farm accident) can be covered up.   So we are given a precedent.   It must be difficult though.   I know that where I come from gay men have been  beaten up - sometimes the police have not only covered up the beatings but have participated.   Even if someone is brave enough to press charges, it's very difficult to get anywhere against the united front of the police.   But murders are another thing - it's difficult to explain away a battered body.   There are so many people involved in a murder, who are not necessarily part of the 'gang'.   I can see the murder being accepted as murder and the community closing up to protect the perpetrators.   But everybody being in on setting it up as a an accident is less believable.   So Lureen saying 'He was murdered - the killers were never found' would very much tie it to gay bashing, but describing it as an accident pulls it away.

Suicide is the next obvious possibility and again, it follows on from the chain of events - Jack's despair leads him to take his own life.  (Perhaps, as Dagonet has suggested, to free Ennis - a way which actually works as it turns out).   But then we're left with the same problem as with the murder - the cover-up.   I've heard of cases which looked like suicide but which were reported as accident, but in those cases there was the possibility of accident, and possibly coroners will lean towards accident if it isn't obviously suicide (no note, etc.).    So if it was suicide, I imagine it would be likely to fairly close to the 'accident' (i.e. dying at the roadside next to an exploded tire, rather than hanging himself).    That makes it a rather fiddly suicide.

There are also the words at Lightning Flats.   The news about the ranch neighbour does tell us and Ennis that Jack had given up on Ennis, I think, so it's needed for the story.   But we're also left with it - why would a suicidal man talk about other plans?   I imagine that if Jack was suicidal he'd have kept quiet at Lightning Flats.

Then there's the idea of a deathwish - somewhere between accident and suicide.   Again this follows from the previous events, especially if you believe Jack was leaving Ennis.   

But then we've all known people who have had this sort of deathwish, and they don't tend to die in a matter of days.   Jack could have been careless, but it's still a bit of a coincidence to have the death so soon after Lightning Flats.    Of course, it could have been a momentary decision just to keep going with pumping the tire.

Finally, there's the accident.  It's probably the most likely if it had happened at any other time, but straight after that chain of events, it seems to be a bit of a coincidence.

There are no really satisfactory explanations - none that entirely leave out coincidence.   If you believe quit, then three of the explanations (murder, suicide and deathwish) are slightly more probable as they follow on better from the chain of events.   The accident is neutral.   I don't think I'm ever going to be sure about this, but the Eric Patterson thread got me thinking - it seems that for a lot of people murder stands out to the extent that we don't have to consider the other explanations.   I think that the film leans more towards murder, whereas the book is more ambiguous.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Ministering angel on April 21, 2008, 04:29:11 AM
Des, this is where a reader may want to consider just how much weight we should give to the non-real elements of the story, in this case a mixture of symbolism - all the references to things being blown or blown up or inflated or whatever, plus the references to breathing and air and wind - and the allusions to Dido and Ophelia, both heroines who died (one by suicide, one by possible/probable suicide) after apparently losing the man they love.

As you know, I put a lot of weight on such things, which leaves me in the group that opts for a "death wish" semi-suicide/accident thingy. So my answer to your question as to why it happens at such a convenient point in the story would be that Jack's depressed state of mind after the argument is sufficient reason to believe he might lose his sense of personal safety at that point.

Thus, they argue, he revisits the Dozy Embrace, he goes to Lightning Flat with heavy heart, he comes up with the revised dream using Randall instead of Ennis, then he goes back to Texas and soon after that, he dies. One conclusion might be that once back in Texas he sees how unrealistic his new plan is. Either Randall isn't actually that keen or Jack takes one look at the man and thinks, "How could I have even thought such a think for a second?" or the new plan was never a goer in the first place, just brave talk for his father.

I'm inclined to think it was never a real plan and he just slides deeper into depression until he subconsciously finds a way out.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on April 21, 2008, 05:59:30 PM
I always tend to think of the death as a tool of sorts as you know; I simply can't go over that line between fiction and reality, despite the story bringing me to tears and obsession; I still can see Jack as metaphoricaly being killed by the relationship; so the suicide by accident always works well for me. As Des pointed out, and we hashed this out eons ago: How does one cover up such a murder in the 1980s? Well, I suppose they could do it, dump him by his truck, etc. then of course you'd need to deal with the serial killer level of detail in getting that tire rim to appear to have hit him just right...I would tend to think, if he was bashed, the cowards would WANT some sign of it, like with Earl. The bashing would have a murderous motive, and would be irrational-not a purposeful, well-thought out murder. I don't buy that in that cornpone little town..

An other thing is, I weill never see Lureen as complicit. It just makes no sense-she and Jack had a deal and it worked for them-she was clearly more interested in business. Many women use business as a personal outlet-its rather common. Seems to me Jack towed the line, brought in sales, and balanced out Lureen's lack of interest in their son.


Now in terms of the relationship, I see it as the 'thing' that it was-a contorted, torqued mess of emotions that prevented any progress; and Jack we know was 'crazy' to get away from LF-how crazy was Ennis the stud duck driving him?? I'm not making a quit argument here-I see many instances in both literature and real life where people are severaly crippled by relationships. Jack did not have to literally walk away to be knocked down by the truth of the dozy embrace memory. That alone had to be shattering.....and the drinking adds an ominous 'accident' feel to the whole thing....

Plus, I have to back up the imagery Mini brought forward; the Ophelia ref, -'and columbine was one of her flowers' along with the angels imagery- has to be meant as a 'tell' of sorts. I can't imagine why else it is there. So to me, the imagery that I see as being used to describe the 'truth' of the relationship, without a direct author's comment all the time, is critical to understanding 'what happened' all the way around..if we ignore the imagery, I think we are missing alot of the actual story, IMO.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: garyd on April 21, 2008, 06:47:18 PM
Ok, Jo, but what are you saying?
Accident or suicide?

You say the drinking adds an ominous "accident " feel but then you invoke Ophelia and her flowers. Do you see Ophelia as additional evidence of suicide? Or are you saying the allusion to Ophelia makes the thing amibiguous again.
I am confused.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Ministering angel on April 21, 2008, 07:58:54 PM
I think CSI is leaning the same way as me, i.e. accidental suicide, or suicide by accident, or however you wish to phrase it. Nothing planned, just a lack or lessening of care for one's personal safety. Maybe this could lead to death by bashing - wrong place, wrong time - but then all the other considerations come into play. Why would it happen so conveniently at that time? What about the cover-up? Etc. I like the reasoning that your average homophobic murderer would want his lesson to be learned by other gay men, thus for it to be as obvious as Earl's death.

Edited by Sandy
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: royandronnie on April 21, 2008, 08:01:10 PM
On the one hand, I agree with Ministering Angel--I don't think he ever had real intent of leaving Ennis, or if he did, it evaporated once he got home. And I think as she and CSI do that he was already dead on the way home, dead in the heart at least. His failing contentment--it wasn't hope anymore by now--took a terrible blow with (what I've always seen as) yet ANOTHER cancellation or postponement. (This is a movie interpretation; I think Jack's heavy, already-pissed-off face when Ennis says he's got something to say suggests Jack has heard this before.)

I'm not sure why Desecra thinks Jack died soon after going back to TX--though if you are a Quitter, it would make sense, because Jack always struck while the iron was hot, and if he really intended to leave Ennis he would likely have gone home and announced he was leaving. But would he have done so before being sure Randall would go along? I would argue against him dying so soon--I guess she is thinking about Ennis not hearing until "months later." But it seems too soon to me. I've always harbored a sneaking suspicion it was August, though that's too neat, I admit. But I feel like--and I have no evidence--that it was June or July anyway. But for Quitters, Desecra's thought makes very good sense.

I'm not sure it had to have been a tire iron to have been murder--though I think Jack at least really did have a flat tire, so presumably, his killers stopped to "help," which would have given them a ready-made weapon. I think in rural TX it could easily have been covered up, if the law officers knew about it--hell, maybe they did it! Might not have been mechanics at all. I agree with CSI that Lureen was not complicit--likely she had a good idea it wasn't an accident, and blamed Jack for getting himself killed, especially if he had said it was over between them. I don't think the killers, with the cooperation of the law, would have had to worry about the details--though again, it does require several people: coroner, judge, police, mortician. They didn't have to do it properly, they just had to agree on a story. But there is that little thought that if it's supposed to be an accident, it's certainly not going to serve as a lesson to any other queers, like Randall.

There are indeed more holes in the murder theory than I had ever thought. But I still believe it was murder. The main thing is that I agree that artistically, the story is most powerful when we do not know. Any answer is painful, and between murder, accident and suicide, it means each of us has a choice that is particularly repugnant which we cannot eliminate because we don't have enough information. So none of us is allowed to find a comfort level. In that way we are like Ennis: he can never truly be at peace about it because he does not know what happened. And neither can we.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Ministering angel on April 21, 2008, 11:15:39 PM
R&R, do you think that AP knew Jack's fate? I'm inclined to think she did, and thus I'm inclined to think she might slip in a clue or two. It doesn't mean the story doesn't work if you don't agree with her, just that I sense she'd have her own preferred view.

As to why Jack's death has to be quite soon, that comes about through the hot sun coming in through Jack's window at Lightning Flat, combined with the "months' before Ennis heard about the accident. You can push back that hot sun a bit but not too far. I'm inclined to think she tells us about it to give us a time clue. And since Ennis has sent a postcard and presumably is expecting some confirmation back, and since it's not a card arranging a particular date (unlike the film) then it can't be too close to November.  Hence a death not too long after his return to Tx. Weeks rather than months. IMO.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Desecra on April 22, 2008, 12:02:22 AM
I'm not sure why Desecra thinks Jack died soon after going back to TX

They plan to meet in August, but at the last meeting in May Ennis says that it will likely be November.   He then sends a postcard saying that November still looks like the earliest.   As the only other possibility was August, Ennis must have sent the postard before (or at the very latest, just at the beginning of) August.  When he gets the postcard back Jack has been dead for months - months (rather than weeks) back from August has to be May at the latest - the month of their last meeting.   So Jack must have died shortly after the last meeting.

I'm not really talking about 'quit' here, and I didn't work out the time of death from deciding that Jack quit (I don't think we can know for sure), but from the above.   

What I am saying about 'quitting' is that if you take into account the words at Lightning Flats, they add more weight to three of the 'death scenarios' - the murder, the accidental suicide, and possibly the deliberate suicide.    On the other hand, if you think Jack had hope and was planning to turn up in November, you're probably more likely to go for accident - the direct reasons for the others have gone, and they become even more coincidental (e.g. Jack didn't change his behaviour in Texas, but just happened to be murdered straight after the last meeting).   So if you're sure about Jack's intentions (which I think most no-quitters are) that might lean you towards one of the options.

The tire iron coincidence - yes, it wouldn't have needed to be a tire iron, BUT the story is presented to Ennis as involving a tire and a tire iron.   That's the coincidence. 
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on April 22, 2008, 12:41:18 AM
Ok, Jo, but what are you saying?
Accident or suicide?

You say the drinking adds an ominous "accident " feel but then you invoke Ophelia and her flowers. Do you see Ophelia as additional evidence of suicide? Or are you saying the allusion to Ophelia makes the thing amibiguous again.
I am confused.
Ophelias's drowning circumstances are unclear, right? Am I remembering that correctly?  Maybe that folllows right thru to Jack's circumstances, with the "defining" factor being whether or not it was deliberate....In Jack's case, I say, 'nay', with some unconscious impulses at work, ie, not caring whether he lives or dies, anymore-'let be, let be'.  I'm not certain it has to be  strict, literal mirror imaging, with the ministering angel-although sure sounds like it. As I said about the Christ imagery-I think of the symbolism as suggestive in some places, more than others, to get the human truth across. A bit of this, a bit of that.  I mean, she means something by it, right? Why not entertain what that might be?

Sorry, when things get too abstract, I get a bit tentative...I know what I mean, but can't always express it, so happy to have updates on Jackphelia. ;).

The drinking point is just about him perhaps, 'drowning' his sorrows-like she did. (I'm just kidding.... :D :D)
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Dagonet on April 22, 2008, 01:02:03 AM
Ah, what a terrible, sad, tangled mess.    ???

Regarding AP and whether she knew Jack's fate, I wouldn't put it past her to have deliberately set things up with an almost perfect balance among three or four possible explanations, so that each of us has to choose for ourselves, and know that we're choosing more or less blindly.  Which, as royandronnie said, is sort of the point:  The specific manner of Jack's death is far less awful, far less bitter, than the fact that Ennis and Jack orbited each other at such distance that Ennis does not even know--cannot ever know--how Jack died. 

Nevertheless, I do think that talking about what might have happened is a worthy discussion.

Regarding the idea of "passive suicide" (Jack losing the will to live and more or less sliding into death). . .  With apologies to and great respect for Rosewood, I have some fairly serious qualms on this one.  Jack is so. . . proactive throughout the rest of the SS/film; initiating things in the FNIT, sending the first postcard, stealing the shirts, driving all that way to meet with Ennis (including after the divorce), going to Mexico, and all the rest.  Hell, he even barges into Ennis' dreams, talking about "getting up off his pockets and into the control zone".  The idea of him gently sliding into death seems contrary to what we see of his character--it's the sort of resigned acceptance which is far more typical of Ennis.  Even in their last scene, it's Ennis who collapses, and Jack who goes to comfort him. 

On the subject of the tire rim. . . Yeah, it would be rather coincidental for such an odd accident to kill Jack right on the cusp of some sort of breakthrough (was Jack about to switch to Randall?  Would Ennis have agreed to the C and C when they met in November?), but life really does throw random, stupid, lethal stuff like this at us sometimes.  The message here would be, I guess, that Ennis' fears of the tire iron had no weight, were effectively irrelevant, because this was the death that was waiting for Jack, all those years, whether he lived with Ennis or without him.  And the extra burden of sorrow for Ennis to carry is that, had they been together, at least he might have been there to turn Jack over.

Regarding Lureen and complicity. . .  I hadn't meant to suggest that she was in some way involved (or complicit) in Jack's death, merely that the tire-rim explosion accident could be a cover for any sort of death which involved similar damage.  To me, her description of the accident in the phone-conversation has the feel of a constructed story, something which has been rehearsed many times.  Admittedly, 1983 seems fairly late for Lureen to be able to maintain a fiction of this sort (as a coverup for a gay bashing or suicide), although I don't know how deaths were handled in fairly rural areas at that time.  Could she have gotten Jack buried without involving a coroner and other authorities?

For myself, I'm leaning towards (active) suicide on purely emotional grounds.  It's simply too painful to think that Jack loved so deeply, suffered so much, and still died as nothing more than a victim (whether of fate, the tire iron, or his own despair).  Odd as it sounds, I do find it comforting to think that, in the end, he made the decision himself--in full understanding--and gave Ennis the only thing he had left to give.   :'(


Having said that, several times after Jack's death we're presented with Ennis' certainty that it was the tire iron.  Is this just Ennis' ingrained fear talking, or does he know something we're not seeing?


Cheers,

Dagonet
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Ministering angel on April 22, 2008, 05:32:38 AM
Dagonet said immediately above: Regarding the idea of "passive suicide" (Jack losing the will to live and more or less sliding into death). . .  With apologies to and great respect for Rosewood, I have some fairly serious qualms on this one.  Jack is so. . . proactive throughout the rest of the SS/film; initiating things in the FNIT, sending the first postcard, stealing the shirts, driving all that way to meet with Ennis (including after the divorce), going to Mexico, and all the rest.  Hell, he even barges into Ennis' dreams, talking about "getting up off his pockets and into the control zone".  The idea of him gently sliding into death seems contrary to what we see of his character--it's the sort of resigned acceptance which is far more typical of Ennis.  Even in their last scene, it's Ennis who collapses, and Jack who goes to comfort him.


But dagonet, the thing which has changed is his view of the Dozy Embrace. It sustains him for twenty years, until the argument. After that, he reassesses it and sees the truth, rather than what he hoped was the truth, i.e. that Ennis will never accept him in the way that he appeared to be doing in the DE. So Jack has lost his big motivating factor. However he was in the years before, when he had hope, he is no longer that way when he goes back to Texas.

I can't really see deliberate suicide - that really would be too bleak. Plus, although split rim tires have a terrible reputation, you can't guarantee that you'll be killed by one.

Edited by Sandy for clarity.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Sandy on April 22, 2008, 08:11:28 AM
Posters:

Please continue to use the "quote" function so we can all see which poster and which post you are quoting.

Eliding that information and substituting italics will only increase the chances of misunderstanding.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on April 22, 2008, 09:16:08 AM
Quote
On the subject of the tire rim. . . Yeah, it would be rather coincidental for such an odd accident to kill Jack right on the cusp of some sort of breakthrough (was Jack about to switch to Randall?  Would Ennis have agreed to the C and C when they met in November?), but life really does throw random, stupid, lethal stuff like this at us sometimes.  The message here would be, I guess, that Ennis' fears of the tire iron had no weight, were effectively irrelevant, because this was the death that was waiting for Jack, all those years, whether he lived with Ennis or without him.   And the extra burden of sorrow for Ennis to carry is that, had they been together, at least he might have been there to turn Jack over.

Dagonet, I think bolded is a very important point, and I continue to see it that way-the waste of him fearing something that Jack was not destined for, is almost too much to take, no?

OTOH-it could also be said, that Jack died because he was where he was, when he was, and be it by tire iron, or tire rim , he was not with Ennis. That tends to put some more direct accountability on Ennis for rejecting the C and C operation.

I do agree, also, that there is a deliberateness with the multitude of options, in that we indeed are finishing the story ourselves in that way, per AP's philosophy. I don't think this means, "interpret every passage anyway you want, because I've left it completely open"-there is a clear narrative here. But I do think she left the ending to that effect.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: garyd on April 22, 2008, 10:51:54 AM
Ophelias's drowning circumstances are unclear, right? Am I remembering that correctly?  Maybe that folllows right thru to Jack's circumstances, with the "defining" factor being whether or not it was deliberate....In Jack's case, I say, 'nay', with some unconscious impulses at work, ie, not caring whether he lives or dies, anymore-'let be, let be'.  I'm not certain it has to be  strict, literal mirror imaging, with the ministering angel-although sure sounds like it. As I said about the Christ imagery-I think of the symbolism as suggestive in some places, more than others, to get the human truth across. A bit of this, a bit of that.  I mean, she means something by it, right? Why not entertain what that might be?

Sorry, when things get too abstract, I get a bit tentative...I know what I mean, but can't always express it, so happy to have updates on Jackphelia. ;).

The drinking point is just about him perhaps, 'drowning' his sorrows-like she did. (I'm just kidding.... :D :D)

Well, the "collective feeling",as R&R dubbed it in an earlier post, appears to be that Jack went home "to die" or that perhaps unconsciously he just sort of gave up and became careless resulting in a "suicide/accident thingy". 

Ir makes sense to me.  Even if they patched things up fairly well on the trailhead, Jack has to feel pretty down as a consequence.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, however, I do interpret the "let be ,let be" perhaps a bit differently from the collective feeling.  I see it as a deep, sad, resignation and also as "hey, don't dwell on it, it is what it is". 
Also Jack is always a bit careless.  It''s just part of his nature.  He "redlines" all the way up to see Ennis, he "misplaces" his parka, he does "wheeliies" or whatever with little Bobby on that silly piece of farm equipment,he drinks water from that "beaver fever" stream,  he is not the most conscientious "shepherd" Wyoming has ever produced.
So, with all that taken into consideration, it is not too far fetched to believe he might be killed in a rather "freak" accident.

Finally as to your comments on symbolism, I'll just say this.

I simply have a difficult time seeing the Ophelia or Dido references as symbols.  Literary allusions perhaps, but not symbols to be interpreted as any kind of foreshadowing.

The Ophelia reference is tenuous at best.  Yes, Ophelia is associated with columbine but she "passes it out" to Gertrude and Claudius as a rebuke for their infidelity and viscous acts.  In her "wacko" state of mind toward the end she is distributing all kinds of flowers to all sorts of people for a variety of reasons.
Yes, her death is a bit ambiguous, it appears "off stage" as does Jack's and we are given the details only in retrospect by Gertrude. 
There is also the Laertes rebuke to the "churlish priest" which is pretty darn direct, I must say.  It can also be referenced to St. Paul and the New Testament.

As for Dido, yes the "I swear" line could conjure up an allusion to Annaeus and his famous encounter with Dido in the underworld.  It certainly came to my mind upon reflection.

Still, these are really only allusions and fairly obscure ones for the average reader.  While they can certainly "enrich" the story for those who might make the connection, they really don't stand out as significant "symbols" or buried clues intentionally embedded into the story. 

Now, if you want to talk symbolism, let's talk about the WIND!   :D
(but, of course, on another thread  >:D)


Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: royandronnie on April 22, 2008, 06:50:29 PM
R&R, do you think that AP knew Jack's fate? I'm inclined to think she did

I wonder, sometimes. As a writer, I have occasionally not decided why or how something happened to my characters. Likely she did, but she left some wiggle room, didn't she, with Ennis hearing the tire rim strike bone? Suggesting accident.

Quote
As to why Jack's death has to be quite soon, that comes about through the hot sun coming in through Jack's window at Lightning Flat, combined with the "months' before Ennis heard about the accident. You can push back that hot sun a bit but not too far.

I do forget that. Extreme Northern Wyoming--July, latest. So Ennis went home and asked, and was turned down. My experience of returned mail suggests that even in-country, it takes about six weeks. Which would be some time in July. Jack died right after he went home. Still not either Q or NQ though. He's either really heating it up with Randall--or really doesn't care if he lives or dies.

To my mind it does push it toward murder, suggesting Jack had at the least been really careless, no longer caring, perhaps inviting the fate Ennis had always warned awaited them. As I said recently, this is more "satisfying." But it's also a little too neat and coincidental, too easy for Ennis in having his fears confirmed. It makes somewhat better dramatic sense if Ennis makes an assumption in line with his fears but this just shows how stuck in them he remains.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: royandronnie on April 22, 2008, 07:05:54 PM
Regarding AP and whether she knew Jack's fate, I wouldn't put it past her to have deliberately set things up with an almost perfect balance among three or four possible explanations, so that each of us has to choose for ourselves, and know that we're choosing more or less blindly.  Which, as royandronnie said, is sort of the point:  The specific manner of Jack's death is far less awful, far less bitter, than the fact that Ennis and Jack orbited each other at such distance that Ennis does not even know--cannot ever know--how Jack died. 

Regarding the idea of "passive suicide" (Jack losing the will to live and more or less sliding into death) Jack is so. . . proactive throughout the rest of the SS/film; initiating things in the FNIT, sending the first postcard, stealing the shirts, driving all that way to meet with Ennis (including after the divorce), going to Mexico, and all the rest.  Hell, he even barges into Ennis' dreams, talking about "getting up off his pockets and into the control zone".  The idea of him gently sliding into death seems contrary to what we see of his character--it's the sort of resigned acceptance which is far more typical of Ennis.  Even in their last scene, it's Ennis who collapses, and Jack who goes to comfort him. 

On the subject of the tire rim. . . Yeah, it would be rather coincidental for such an odd accident to kill Jack right on the cusp of some sort of breakthrough (was Jack about to switch to Randall?  Would Ennis have agreed to the C and C when they met in November?), but life really does throw random, stupid, lethal stuff like this at us sometimes.  The message here would be, I guess, that Ennis' fears of the tire iron had no weight, were effectively irrelevant, because this was the death that was waiting for Jack, all those years, whether he lived with Ennis or without him.  And the extra burden of sorrow for Ennis to carry is that, had they been together, at least he might have been there to turn Jack over.


Some really nice thoughts here. I had to quote more than I meant to so that I could put them in my posts file.

Suicide. I've never really considered it, but it is true that Jack had no trouble taking action. His actions were always positive, though, or tried to be--get out of LF, reach for Ennis, help Ennis with his bleeding, marry for money, etc. Suicide is a negative response, and I think it's a little abstract for Jack to kill himself and leave it for Ennis to wonder why, how, when. I could just about see Jack shoot himself or throw himself off a cliff in front of Ennis, but it sounds pretty ludicrous even as I type it. More like, he'd have finally taken a swing at him. It's true that Jack lies, hides a lot in his life, but he does so as coping mechanisms--grow the moustache and file the teeth to hide his feelings, as S&I posters have suggested. Jack is the willow and not the oak. He bends with the storm. But even willows can burn or be toppled. I don't think he quit--he had 14 hours of driving in which to think about it--and I don't think he actively committed suicide.

Whatever he intended, though, it was not this--once again, Jack's dreams come to naught, whether they were "hold on" or "quit."

And if indeed he died right after the May meeting--another bookend; once again, Ennis shouldn't have let him out of his sight…
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on April 22, 2008, 11:45:43 PM
gary, yes, 'allusion' may be more apt-but the effect is the same: The suggestion is clear that we are dealing with the aftermath of the loss of love, or in Jack's case, one's illusion of love, what he fed on for 20 years-the DE.

I must quibble, though, with the use of the columbine, ie, one of her flowers , as not being almost conclusive- to me, it is far too coincidental, with the 'ministering angel' ref and the drowing in his own blood, done by Jack..Not to mention the vagueries of his passing-leaving out the columbine, that's still three strikes-doubt is out, for me.

Boy we are really OT aren't we?? Mini is the Dido expert, btw. I read the Aeneid in Latin III in High school, and that's all she wrote.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: janjo on April 23, 2008, 12:57:17 AM
My country roots showing here.

Jack is the Willow and not the Oak. The most common disease of Willow trees is Willow Heart Rot. Willows affected die from the heart outwards! Ouch! :'(
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Rosewood on April 24, 2008, 11:36:36 AM
Jack is the wind.
Ennis is the lion.
That's my story and I'm sticking to it.  ::)

Accident or suicide? I have a theory that fits in with my own concept
of what should or shouldn't be and I'm inclined to stick with that too.

My gut feeling (expressed before, so it's not new), is that Jack dies in a careless
accident which is foretold by several things in the story, i.e. the line about 'drowning'
in the blue open sky (I paraphrase loosely), the fate of the men of the submarine
Thresher discussed in the s/s, the constant reference to water in s/s and film, and even,
the sense in the film of Jack being 'choked' off or 'strangled' by life (Metraphorically speaking).

ALSO

I think it is the perfect ironic swipe by AP to have Jack die in an accident and have Ennis
wrongly interpret it to suit his lifelong fears. His assumption that they or at least
one of them might wind up 'dead' is correct, but for all the wrong reasons. So Ennis
starts out wrong and ends up in the same place, though he does allow, in the short
story, a bit of wiggle room by saying that there was room between what he knew and
what he didn't. So, there IS some doubt. Ennis MIGHT, just might, come to the realization
at some point in time that, PERHAPS, the boogeyman DID NOT get Jack.
Could he face that?
My feeling is that Ennis would prefer to see himself in the right: Jack died BECAUSE
he was gay, NOT because he wasn't paying attention to the tire thing. See, in this
way he could have the bitter satisfaction of saying to himself: I was right to be afraid.
Otherwise, what was the point?

Some might say it doesn't really matter HOW Jack died.
Perhaps that's true.
In the context of the story, it is enough that he dies.

BUT it does matter in the growth (real or imagined) of its central character.

The greatest irony to me, it seems, is that Jack did not have to die except that Ennis
pushed him to the point where death seemed the best and perhaps, the only, option.
Or perhaps, rather than 'pushed', I should say, abandoned.
Abandoned to his fate.
Yeah, I like that.

Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Desecra on April 24, 2008, 01:45:32 PM
I see it the other way round - that Ennis would prefer to be in the wrong.   He really doesn't want to believe that Jack was murdered (in his imagination, that includes torture, humiliation and mutilation).    What he 'knows' at that point (shortly after Jack's death, when he buys the postcard, etc.) is that Jack was murdered ('then he knew it was the tire iron).   He tries to believe he wasn't.  It's hard to imagine that it's the other way around - that now he knows Jack wasn't murdered but tries to believe he was.   The murder option is to horrible for him to try to believe it.

(Of course, I think the 'open space' line applies to more than just Jack's death).
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Rosewood on April 24, 2008, 02:42:22 PM
I see it the other way round - that Ennis would prefer to be in the wrong.   He really doesn't want to believe that Jack was murdered (in his imagination, that includes torture, humiliation and mutilation).    What he 'knows' at that point (shortly after Jack's death, when he buys the postcard, etc.) is that Jack was murdered ('then he knew it was the tire iron).   He tries to believe he wasn't.  It's hard to imagine that it's the other way around - that now he knows Jack wasn't murdered but tries to believe he was.   The murder option is to horrible for him to try to believe it.

(Of course, I think the 'open space' line applies to more than just Jack's death).

I don't agree. Ennis never lets go of the boogeyman. It suits him to have Jack murdered EXACTLY because it
proves he was right all along. What Jack suffered is neither here nor there. IF he died by tire iron, it was not a
gentle death.

I didn't say that Ennis KNOWS that Jack died in an accident, I'm saying that he, naturally, would wonder but
would stick by the likeliest explanation which has been part of his leit-motif (did I get that right?) all along.
The boogeyman got Jack. Ennis was right to fear.
If he ever doubts his fear, then he may then begin to reason out another explanation for Jack's death.

But notice he's not running down to Texas to find out.

As for the 'open space' line, yes, I too think it means a bit more.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Desecra on April 24, 2008, 02:48:45 PM
I'm sorry - I wasn't meaning that you were saying Ennis knew.   It's just the word used in the story:

So now he knew it had been the tire iron

and then, a few weeks later,

There was some open space between what he knew and what he tried to believe


It seems to me that murder is what he 'knows' but doesn't want to believe. 

Jack being murdered doesn't let him off the hook of letting Jack down - it's not the living together that is the big deal in the end, but the dozy embrace/not getting it right.   I think Ennis understands that.   However Jack died, he got it wrong. 

Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Rosewood on April 24, 2008, 03:08:03 PM
I'm sorry - I wasn't meaning that you were saying Ennis knew.   It's just the word used in the story:

So now he knew it had been the tire iron

and then, a few weeks later,

There was some open space between what he knew and what he tried to believe


It seems to me that murder is what he 'knows' but doesn't want to believe. 

Jack being murdered doesn't let him off the hook of letting Jack down - it's not the living together that is the big deal in the end, but the dozy embrace/not getting it right.   I think Ennis understands that.   However Jack died, he got it wrong. 



See, Des, here's how I see Ennis's contrary nature:
Even IF he did try to believe that Jack had somehow escaped the boogeyman and died changing a tire (how cruelly
banal, by the way), he'd doubt it. This is a man who's been afraid all his life and now, in the end, exactly what he'd
feared has come to pass. He finds out at the farmhouse that Jack had possibly been carrying on with a ranch foreman
and KNOWING Jack, Ennis assumes the worst. Jack died BECAUSE he was gay and was found out. Ipso facto.
And yet, there's the explanation put forth by Jack's wife. That 'cold little voice' on the phone. He might TRY and
believe Lureen's version since he had no REAL proof either way, so he goes back and forth. But I still say
his lifetime fear dictates an outcome that he understands, or put it another way, that makes more likely sense
to him. After all, all he ACTUALLY KNOWS is that Jack Twist is dead.

I think that what Ennis 'knew and tried to believe' was the possibilty that he had NOT gotten it wrong. That Jack
DID NOT DIE because of Ennis's intransigence and fear. That Jack simply died and Ennis couldn't fix any of it.
I mean, try to imagine Ennis's outrage if Jack did die in some random accident leaving Ennis with the realization
that all his worry had, in truth, been for nothing. Or at least, based on a false premise.
Death came calling anyway and it may NOT have had anything to do with Jack's sexuality.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on April 24, 2008, 06:28:56 PM
Funny, at first I thought too what Ennis 'knew' was about the tire iron..but I came to also think of it as something we were also told-that he knew Jack died thinking he could not get it right with Ennis (the part we know), but that he tried to believe Jack somehow knew how Ennis felt (a bit of a revelation). But it would make sense, if he did not know, to try to entertain that it was not true-for his own sanity. We sure know how he feels.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Desecra on April 24, 2008, 11:52:09 PM
I think it's both - as I said, I don't think the death is all it's about.   It's another of those double-meaning things.  But I do think the death is involved there - he's started dreaming about the tire iron.

It's only a few weeks after Jack's death.   I don't see how he can have a turnaround to now knowing that it was an accident, but trying to believe it was murder.  What would change his mind, and make him think a murder was so unlikely that it was difficult to believe?  And I really don't see him trying to believe it's murder.   Earl's death was objectively horrific, and it wasn't just murder but what seems to have been a prolonged period of torture.   The film plays that down, but I think what Ennis imagined, when he thought of the tire iron, was a death and torture similar to Earl's.     The sight of Earl's body was enough to ruin his life - it's the thing that stops him being with Jack or accepting Jack.   It sounds as if his father gave him some extra details as well - he was told about some of what was done to Earl.   

I can't see why he would try to believe Jack died that way.

He knows that Jack wasn't able to get it right with him.   Whether or not Ennis was right about the dangers of living together (and whether Jack was murdered or not) makes no difference to that in the end.   And Jack could have died by accident, and Ennis could STILL be right about the dangers (he's already seen what can happen).   So I don't think Ennis has anything to gain by believing in the murder.   'I rejected him and let him down, but at least I was right about the dangers' - that's not going to comfort him.   Whether or not he was right to be afraid is over-ridden by his basic rejection of Jack (no more dozy embraces, etc.).   If Ennis was right about it being too dangerous to ranch together, they could maybe have talked about going to Denver (Ennis had wanted to be a sophomore) or even had the same set-up but with Ennis showing love and acceptance when they were alone together.  This is where the punch is important - it's the moment when Ennis separated them (and I think when he thinks of it, he's starting to understand that the barrier between them was internal rather than external and that he'd erected it himself).   

It's very dark, I think, to be left with those regrets after somebody has died and no way to put it right.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on April 25, 2008, 08:48:33 AM
Oh, I agree, he would not want to try to believe it was murder-I think its an inevitable conclusion he comes to, with the ol man's words. It's  his motives that are interesting, at first: He may have a need to believe it, to prove he was right to himself, to not move in with Jack- before the shirts. But then with the shirts, he knows Jack never actually left him, emotionally (not addressing q/nq)-so he failed somehow, and that does lay the accountability on his doorstep, because if Jack always wanted him, then he was indeed the one that failed the relationship. So , with this knowledge, he has to now try to believe that he did not cause the death of this man he now knows he loved above anything else. Plus, who would ever want to know Jack died that way? I do think it is the timing of the events that counts alot, and I think Ennis is forced to adjust with the multi-revelations as they hit him-it would be a natural process, I think. Its all part as we've been saying, of those dreams that go back and forth between love and death: Enni's own fears ecapsulated and entangled in his feelings for Jack.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: jwm on May 09, 2008, 09:58:30 PM
I have always blamed Ennis for what happened to Jack but lately I have begun to think a little differently.

Ennis never made Jack do anything he didn't want to do, and Jack was the one that kept this relationship alive. He knew that Ennis carried all this emotional baggage and after the first few years he had to realize that this was not going to change anytime soon. Jack hung on to every bit of hope that one day he would get a miracle and Ennis would realize that he loved him and he was worth any danger that could come their way.

The reason I think that Jack kept coming back was that he had to have felt Ennis truly did want him, the way Jack wanted Ennis. He was really the only person that got Ennis, he knows how it feels to have Ennis one on one. He would not have kept coming back if he didn't feel that Ennis responded to his every touch because Jack knew what it was like to be with someone just for relief. The way Ennis came to him was more than just for sex, and that is what kept Jack coming back.

So really Jack knew in his head that Ennis would never change enough to satisfy him, but he lived his life with his heart, and that was getting harder and colder with every visit.

jwm
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on May 09, 2008, 11:19:24 PM
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

One thing about Jack: do you recall that line, 'I never thought about losin'', from the motel scene? I think it speaks volumes about Jack's nature. He was eternally hopeful about what he wanted, and he had the misfortune of falling for exactly the right man-who was sadly, precising the wrong man to fall for, under the circumstances. When his hope leaves, is when he really dies.....then he realizes, he wasn't thinking about losing-but it happened, somewhere along the road.  :( :(
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Sandy on May 10, 2008, 09:08:47 AM
True enough that Jack knew Ennis carried emotional baggage with him, but he also "knew" of the emotional potential he carried, too. He was hoping the latter would outweigh the former.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: myrine on May 22, 2008, 04:09:09 AM
I agree with this, although I think we're coming at it from opposite directions.  I believe that, if anything, all the other encounters and assignations would only underscore for Jack that what Ennis gives him is irreplaceable.  Sure, it must be galling for Jack that he gets so much less from Ennis than what he wants, but even that "less" is infinitely more than what he can find in the arms of prostitutes or ranch hands or whomever.
[...]
Can we, actually, say this with certainty, that Ennis doesn't offer Jack love?  This isn't the place to go into an exhaustive discussion of what love means to Ennis, but. . . I believe very strongly that Ennis loves Jack as much as he is able.

I still think that Jack understands that he's getting not enough from Ennis more through his own needs than by comparison with other men. I don't think he feels satisfied with them. Even of he is searching for something in those relationships, I don't think he finds what he's looking for. I'm assuming he's looking for some "company" and he's looking for sex, but he's misplacing his needs, he's replaying certain memories and desires (of Ennis) with other men, but that doesn't do it for him.
True, he may find in Randall a readiness he never found in Ennis if we believe that he was going to leave his wife and bring him up to his parents' place, but I think he's just replaying his dream of the sweet life, and that wouldn't be as satisfying as the real thing... Which perhaps he was never going to get.

Also, I'm thinking about what Jack knew about Ennis's feelings; that Ennis was happier, more open, more at peace and even more talkative with him than with anyone else. Maybe he knew and that made him even more depressed about his dream. Something like "I know you love me but still you won't come live with me".
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: fofol on May 22, 2008, 12:30:18 PM
   Does anyone think it possible that the placement of the Dozy Embrace at the tail end of the fight could mean that we're being shown that Jack does in fact finally "get it," that Ennis loves him (despite his unwillingness to live together with him), but only at the moment of Ennis's so obvious pain - does Jack see the collapse as evidence of Ennis's love for him - but doesn't know how to put the genie back in the bottle, how to take back all those harsh and erroneous words he's levelled at his lover?  (We know from the script that Jack is capable of disguising his feelings with harshness - when Ennis returns late with the supplies Jack is worried, but starts out by giving Ennis hell for not having his supper ready.)  If Ennis truly didn't care a great deal for Jack, would his reaction be the collapse, would Jack's words matter?  I try to interpret Jack's look as Ennis drives away and see so many possibilities.  Is there longing as well as acceptance (or resignation)?  It seems so, but the look also seems to convey so much sorrow that for a while I thought Jack was thinking he had just been dumped.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: jwm on May 22, 2008, 12:52:41 PM
I believe that Jack knew in his heart how Ennis felt even though he would never hear the words. He knew the man well, he knew how to separate, decipher Ennis movements, his touches, his breathing even. He has had to get almost all his comfort or should I say his sense of love, companionship, and being able to understand without words just how much Ennis did need him,and want him. To live with someone that has a very hard time verbalizing their thoughts, their feelings you find ways to get the same knowledge in so many other ways. Jack had found his way, because if he didn't they certainly would not still be meeting, every chance they got.
 
 Jack got relief from others, but I do think that Randal was different. He showed Jack that there was absolutely nothing wrong with him, he was desirable, lovable, and most of all he didn't have to pry anything out of Randal. He was ready, willing and able, no qualms about being different, he seen what he wanted and he went after it. Jack looked like he was scared to death when Randal hit on him out on the bench. He has been trying to get the love of his life to give just a tiny bit of movement and when he finally heard  what he wanted to hear for years, it came from a stranger, someone that he couldn't take up on, not yet anyway.
Jack hung on for along as he could, he gave the best he had, the best he was and Ennis just couldn't respond the way he had dreamed of.

 The other sad thing about this whole thing is that to Ennis Jack was the only constant in his life, the one person that he knew in his heart would always be there for him. He lived for their time on the mountain, because that was the only time he didn't have to think, he didn't have to pretend he could be who and what he wanted to be. He had the only person in his life that didn't judge, didn't make him feel like he had to prove anything to. So when Jack hit him with the truth, the good the bad and the ugly of it all that is what put Ennis to his knees. He was taken aback because he never thought that Jack would ever leave him, he thought he had him forever, or for as long as he wanted him. Jack proved him wrong.

jwm
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: janjo on May 22, 2008, 01:25:14 PM
   Does anyone think it possible that the placement of the Dozy Embrace at the tail end of the fight could mean that we're being shown that Jack does in fact finally "get it," that Ennis loves him (despite his unwillingness to live together with him), but only at the moment of Ennis's so obvious pain - does Jack see the collapse as evidence of Ennis's love for him - but doesn't know how to put the genie back in the bottle, how to take back all those harsh and erroneous words he's levelled at his lover?  (We know from the script that Jack is capable of disguising his feelings with harshness - when Ennis returns late with the supplies Jack is worried, but starts out by giving Ennis hell for not having his supper ready.)  If Ennis truly didn't care a great deal for Jack, would his reaction be the collapse, would Jack's words matter?  I try to interpret Jack's look as Ennis drives away and see so many possibilities.  Is there longing as well as acceptance (or resignation)?  It seems so, but the look also seems to convey so much sorrow that for a while I thought Jack was thinking he had just been dumped.

I think it's entirely possible fofol. I find it hard to see Ennis's collapse and tears as not having profound significance for Jack. Jack at that point knows exactly how much Ennis loves him, and still he won't live with him. He still thinks he can "stand it," but Jack knows that he personally can't!
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Rosewood on May 22, 2008, 02:09:47 PM
Yes, Ennis can't 'stand it' but see how he clutches Jack to him.
How can Jack help but see that Ennis is torn in two?
Perhaps he is blind in the anger of the moment, but later?
No.
Jack knows that Ennis loves him, but he [Ennis] is helpless to change,
even under the weight of that love. That is the tragedy of Ennis.

If nothing else, focusing on the DE reminds both of them
(certainly in the film we're not aware that the DE is meant to be
seen from Jack's point of view ONLY) of their deep love for each other
and how that love first sprang to life so long ago.
Beyond sex, beyond anything. There was a moment in time when
every consideration was thrown out the window. When Jack felt
fully accepted and Ennis was, in turn, fully accepting.

It was only later Jack surmised that Ennis wouldn't 'then'
face him -  for whatever reason.
The DE moment, I believe, was as far as Ennis could, would ever go.
This finally dawns on Jack - "...let be, let be..." in the short story.
Perhaps less so in the film.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: janjo on May 22, 2008, 02:19:58 PM
Lovely Rose!
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Dagonet on May 22, 2008, 02:24:24 PM
I think it's entirely possible fofol. I find it hard to see Ennis's collapse and tears as not having profound significance for Jack. Jack at that point knows exactly how much Ennis loves him, and still he won't live with him. He still thinks he can "stand it," but Jack knows that he personally can't!


I think you're both right--the measure of Ennis and Jack's love for each other is the measure of how much they can hurt each other.  Obviously, if they cared less, Jack wouldn't have lashed out so violently in the final scene, and Ennis wouldn't have been so badly hurt.

IMO, part of the problem, is that neither one of them ever really understood what the other derived (or wanted) from their relationship.  I mean, Jack is never able to explain to Ennis that it's the not-specifically-sexual, perfect closeness of the Dozy Embrace that he wants, that moment when all the world goes away and nothing is real except the two of them.  I don't think Ennis would have denied moments like that to Jack, if he'd known that those moments were what Jack needed.  And from the other side,  Jack's line about Ennis just wanting/needing a few HAF's per year is obviously intended to be hurtful, but I think Jack actually believed that that's what it was about for Ennis.  And I think he's wrong--personally, I think the SNIT is the best representation we get of what Ennis wanted/needed:  just Jack, just to be with Jack. 

As for standing it, whatever their thoughts on the matter, I'd say that both of them end up broken by what they can't stand.  Ennis gets compressed, squeezed by the world and his fears of the world, until all that's left of his soul is a pair of shirts and a postcard, hanging in a little closet, in a little trailer.  And Jack. . . spreads out, literally and figuratively, leaving little pieces of his self-respect (if not his soul) in Mexico and across Texas, maybe up at Lightning Flat, until in the end. . . there's nothing left of him.


Cheers,

Dagonet
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on May 22, 2008, 04:47:00 PM
XNT post, Dagonet. Really accurate read, IMO. Its true-the lack of communication is a major problem. Isn't it always??

I think what the DE represented, more accurately for my part, is what was missing..I think Jack was after the day to day reality-which would have most likely evolved into more of those types of moments.

Jack always wanted to come down off the mountain to move forward with Ennis; Ennis was afraid to move forward-the imagined power gripped him for 20 years.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: fofol on May 23, 2008, 05:35:52 AM
  Thanks all - Janjo, Rose, Dagonet, CSI - for such intelligent and sensitive responses.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Ministering angel on May 23, 2008, 07:08:28 AM
   Does anyone think it possible that the placement of the Dozy Embrace at the tail end of the fight could mean that we're being shown that Jack does in fact finally "get it," that Ennis loves him (despite his unwillingness to live together with him), but only at the moment of Ennis's so obvious pain - does Jack see the collapse as evidence of Ennis's love for him - but doesn't know how to put the genie back in the bottle, how to take back all those harsh and erroneous words he's levelled at his lover?  (We know from the script that Jack is capable of disguising his feelings with harshness - when Ennis returns late with the supplies Jack is worried, but starts out by giving Ennis hell for not having his supper ready.)  If Ennis truly didn't care a great deal for Jack, would his reaction be the collapse, would Jack's words matter?  I try to interpret Jack's look as Ennis drives away and see so many possibilities.  Is there longing as well as acceptance (or resignation)?  It seems so, but the look also seems to convey so much sorrow that for a while I thought Jack was thinking he had just been dumped.

But they must have made plans for November. Ennis sends the postcard and there's no sense that it wasn't going to happen, so when they torque things almost back, they must agree that they will meet up again. So if Jack feels he's made a wrong move he has the opportunity to put it right the next time. However, instead he goes away and dies. His death may just be a convenient plot device but I don't think for one second that it is. Jack dies as a result of what has happened, one way or another. This applies IMHO regardless of HOW he dies. So how does the fight lead to the memory of the DE and then onto Jack's death? What do you think? I know what I think, and I'm pretty certain Jack wasn't thinking that Ennis really did love him (because of his collapse).
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on May 23, 2008, 08:25:56 AM
   Does anyone think it possible that the placement of the Dozy Embrace at the tail end of the fight could mean that we're being shown that Jack does in fact finally "get it," that Ennis loves him (despite his unwillingness to live together with him), but only at the moment of Ennis's so obvious pain - does Jack see the collapse as evidence of Ennis's love for him - but doesn't know how to put the genie back in the bottle, how to take back all those harsh and erroneous words he's levelled at his lover?  (We know from the script that Jack is capable of disguising his feelings with harshness - when Ennis returns late with the supplies Jack is worried, but starts out by giving Ennis hell for not having his supper ready.)  If Ennis truly didn't care a great deal for Jack, would his reaction be the collapse, would Jack's words matter?  I try to interpret Jack's look as Ennis drives away and see so many possibilities.  Is there longing as well as acceptance (or resignation)?  It seems so, but the look also seems to convey so much sorrow that for a while I thought Jack was thinking he had just been dumped.

I think it's entirely possible fofol. I find it hard to see Ennis's collapse and tears as not having profound significance for Jack. Jack at that point knows exactly how much Ennis loves him, and still he won't live with him. He still thinks he can "stand it," but Jack knows that he personally can't!
Mike and Jess, if I may add something:

It seems to me, Jack would not be dead if he knew that Ennis loved him. I think he'd still carry hope. I think the memory of the DE is what he craves and after the fight, thinks he won't get again, ever-'let be, let be'-that means the single moment that has solidified is kind of being given up on, like the shirts have 'fossilized', as I think you put it, Jess. He's just going to leave it there, as he did the shirts in the closet. The DE memory, soldified; the shirts, stiff from suspension. They had not got much farther.

Ennis's response to Jack's anger, which is really a plea, in disguise-'show me you love me!'- is to collapse, wordlessly; then bounce back when Jack capitulates-steps out of the truck, the hard metal shield, if you dig S and I.  Ennis needs to be in charge, and to have the 'don't talk about it' rules always followed....its the only way he can retain 'I know I ain't-?' Because he has lost the 'we both got wives and kids' rationalization. The truth crreeps closer and closer, over time....

 I think what really happened, is intitially, it caused Jack to take some action, ie, reacting to the realization by, IMO, spitting into the wind-telling his dad about the RN. But in the end, the loss of hope did him in. I think a critical point is that Ennis realizes Jack felt he could not 'get it right' with him at the Parents; that is why he remembers the bathroom lesson-'no way to get it right with him after that'-right after he is told about the RN, serious or not though that relationship might be. 
I think to me, it is the main component of the 'some space' between what Ennis knows and tires to believe: That somehow, Jack knew how he felt; but the connection between the evidence of Jack's love-the shirts; and Ennis being unable to  return it-other men filling in the gap, unsuccessfully-is what I think leans Ennis in the direction of what he knows, deep down:Jack died NOT being sure of Ennis's love. And it's not about Ennis-its about Jack. Jack figured, ultimately, he was just not that lovable. He had his initial proof with his father-then the loss of the DE hope made him think it was true for Ennis.

I guess if you see his memory of the DE as hopeful, this doesn't work, as a theory. But the theory I outlined does also not mean he quit Ennis-it appears, to me,  he quit himself.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on May 23, 2008, 08:32:09 AM
I have a question, that I think ties to the Relationship thread-We've touched on this before, but I'd really like to know if anyone has any thoughts:

Why does Jack reverse the shirts from the DE, in his closet? Why is he embracing Ennis, rather than the reverse, if the reverse is what he 'craves'?
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Dal on May 23, 2008, 10:20:19 AM
Why does Jack reverse the shirts from the DE, in his closet? Why is he embracing Ennis,
For Jack, Ennis is Jack's heart.  And Jack carries Ennis with him everywhere, hidden inside where only Jack is aware.   That's why he covered Ennis's shirt with his own..

For Jack, the shirts are not just a reminder of the embrace.  They are more.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Dagonet on May 23, 2008, 10:34:02 AM
Why does Jack reverse the shirts from the DE, in his closet? Why is he embracing Ennis, rather than the reverse, if the reverse is what he 'craves'?

Perhaps because (in Jack's mind) Ennis is the one who is more wounded, the one who's been hurt and needs to be protected.  <lightbulb>  And if Ennis' shirt around Jack would be an echo of the Dozy Embrace, an example of the future Jack was hoping for, then Ennis' shirt within Jack's is a reflection of the reality they'd been living.  They are together, but Ennis' shirt is unseen, unseeable to the casual glance--no one could ever expect or assume that they were together.  Not even Ennis when he finds them. 

Alternately, and despite the complaint about the short leash, Jack's shirt around Ennis' is a way for Jack to keep Ennis close to him always, which is after all what he always asked for, even if it wasn't necessarily what he most wanted.


Cheers,

Dagonet
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on May 23, 2008, 11:04:11 AM
That's good, the idea of Jack looking to the future. In a way, it's also the statement of completion- the two as one, as AP tells us Ennis intuits the presence of the shirts, when he finds them.

It may be what Jack, too, wanted to say to Ennis, and never could. I find that particularly poignant.

They both played a role in not facing the love.

 It was not just about Ennis's refusal to live together. We are given a number of examples where Jack acted too rashly or gave up too easily, IMO. The moment when Ennis asks, 'what do other people do?' is a moment I've referred to as an open window. Jack was too caught up in his hurt to sieze this moment to try to draw Ennis in rationally, without pushing too hard at the wrong moment, ie, the  C and C operation. He should have used that moment to talk thru Ennis's fears with him-but he was no more equipped than Ennis was, to even know what was what. He and Ennis spend that whole scene expressing themselves-and not listening much to the other guy, until the water has gone under the bridge. Ennis primarily listens up when his fear is triggered-'whoa, whoa, whoa, it ain't goin a be that way'-and Jack is always moving to the next opportunity, without analyzing why the last one failed, until its too late.The classic case is the dozy embrace-that took 20 years for him to realize it was a 'one shot thing'-a moment in time, when the stars aligned and Ennis's guard came almost completely down. Of course, we don't know this, either, until the end, and we are given the times when Ennis really failed Jack, ie, the divorce, and not understanding the yearning to get it right with Ennis, contained in the bathroom story, until after Jack died. And then finally, the understanding of the first and primary failure-the punc in the columbine. the moment Ennis said, 'I don't accept your love-it would make me queer.' Of course, Jack being Jack reads it as, 'I don't accept YOU.'
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Dal on May 23, 2008, 11:41:27 AM
~ Ennis said, 'I don't accept your love-it would make me queer.' Of course, Jack being Jack reads it as, 'I don't accept YOU.'
Ennis rambles a quasi-explanation of the punch, four years later.  What  to you reckon Jack thought about the punch, after  that 'explanation'?  IOW could  he fit Ennis's not-quite-sequitur into his own sense of unworthiness?
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Rosewood on May 23, 2008, 01:52:57 PM
Pardon me while I go GAK!! Okay, I'm done. :o
Wait, wait, I'm feeling another hairball working its way up.....!

GAK!!!!!!!

Ok, I'm really done now.
I'm calm. More or less...
But please allow me a rant.
Haven't ranted in awhile and I guess I'm due.  ::)

Let me say that I simply cannot believe we're discussing the 'why' of the most elemental/metaphorical show of love ever
written in ANY story for ANY reason by ANY author. The shirts are 'IT'. Their power is evident and should
need no interpretation. I can't believe we're not ALL on the same page as to their meaning in the story.
Obviously we can interpret what they MEAN to Ennis, but I can't see how we don't have some agreement on
what they must have meant to Jack and what they mean to the story and to us.

No, I'm not talking the 'imagined' power of BBM and the truth as it dawns on Ennis, I'm talking about their LITERARY power,
their SYMBOLIC power, their VISUAL power, not only for Ennis Del Mar but for US. The shirts are the pay-off.
Any great story has a pay-off.
Without it we go home flat-line.

NOBODY walks away from BBM flat-lined. (Not even Ennis.)
Not if they have even an ounce of human understanding (and for the audience add: artistic appreciation).
Does Ennis lack complete human understanding?
Is he so busy protecting himself even in this unguarded moment of grief that he thinks only of himself?

The shirts DO NOT put Jack in that sad, empty room. Jack is long gone.
THE SHIRTS SOLIDIFY JACK IN ENNIS'S HEART. That is their function.
All doubt is gone.
Why?
Because:
The shirts are the PROOF of Jack's constant love, even from the very beginning.
When Ennis was still fumbling around back in the day, Jack was, even then, already in love.
(Yes, yes, we THINK that Ennis too was deeply in love, BUT, the truth is that Ennis
did not then acknowledge it in ANY way IF he even actually KNEW the truth of what
he was feeling which, of course, is debatable. It doesn't even begin to truly dawn on him in any
tangible way until The Reunion when he is OVERJOYED to see Jack. (Though retching in the
alley opened the door.)

MOST IMPORTANT: Jack WAS self aware enough to know he was in love.
(He didn't think he had a stomach upset.)
THIS is what DEVASTATES Ennis.
Truth is in those shirts.
It wasn't the power of BBM, it was the power of them - Jack and Ennis together.
THAT was the magic. THAT was the power Ennis had leased to the mountain.

WHY DID JACK ENSHRINE THE SHIRTS?
Maybe we CAN and have discussed the actual 'taking', but the one shirt inside the other
symbolism is, to me, naked as can be.
Honestly, do we even NEED to ask this?
In the ENTIRE story, this is the LEAST ambiguous moment - to me.
This is the most self-evident.
THEY ARE PROOF of what Jack felt, is still feeling, will always feel.
(Though he doesn't know this at the time - the future, I mean.)
He goes back, crestfallen, to his 'daddy's place'.
Hopelessly in love.

Jack was, even THEN self-aware enough to know he loved.
He took the shirt (not SHIRTS since one of them was his).
They become The Shirts once they're entombed together in that closet.

Jack puts his shirt around Ennis's in a symbolic embrace. (Is he THINKING symbolism? No.)
He is not THEN aware of the meaning of the DE except as to how it made him feel.
He is not THEN aware of the fact that Ennis would not 'then' face him because
Jack was a man. Oh, the thought may be fermenting in his psyche, but it hasn't clarified.
He only knows he MUST have a momento of Ennis. Something he can touch and feel
and smell. Evidence. Proof. Something tangible that stirs the heart and memory.
He's not thinking in symbolic terms, though he may be acting in a symbolic way.
In my view, he would have been all emotion at that point.

So, once back on the ranch, what to do with Ennis's shirt?
Hang it in the closet on its own?
Fold it up and put in a chest?
WHAT DOES THIS SHIRT MEAN TO JACK?
(A shirt with Ennis's blood on it.)

Here's what I think:
I think Jack took that shirt because he couldn't NOT take it.
It belonged to Ennis. It had embraced Ennis's torso.
It was ALL Jack could do.
His heart demanded he do something and this is all he could think of to do at the time.
He could NOT hold onto Ennis - then. He did not know how. (In fact, he would never know how.)
But he was young and impetuous and madly in love and the shirt was there for him to take as proof
of that love. He has no clue then what the future holds for him. He's not thinking that far.
He's young and fueled by emotion.

He goes back to his 'daddy's place'.
Okay, so what to do with the shirt?
This is all tied up with what the shirt meant to him originally.
I mean, this is obvious.
The shirt ALLOWS JACK TO EXPRESS HIS LOVE FOR ENNIS WITHOUT CONDEMNATION.
In a way, it is a moment of freedom, hidden though it is in his closet, upstairs in that bleakness of that little room.
Again, seen from afar this is a symbolic move, and yet, I can't think that Jack is aware that he is mired in
symbolism. He is simply doing all he can think of to do to assuage the pain in his heart.

He tucks Ennis lovingly inside himself.
That is the why of one shirt inside another.

Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on May 23, 2008, 02:36:42 PM
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
Someone get the smelling salts, just in case.....  ;)
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: cazzyj on May 23, 2008, 02:45:49 PM
Pardon me while I go GAK!! Okay, I'm done. :o
Wait, wait, I'm feeling another hairball working its way up.....!

GAK!!!!!!!

I never knew having a hairball could result in something so profound!  :o  ;)

*bows to you* Rosewood - that was freakin' brilliant!  I am in complete awe....
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on May 23, 2008, 02:54:57 PM
~ Ennis said, 'I don't accept your love-it would make me queer.' Of course, Jack being Jack reads it as, 'I don't accept YOU.'
Ennis rambles a quasi-explanation of the punch, four years later.  What  to you reckon Jack thought about the punch, after  that 'explanation'?  IOW could  he fit Ennis's not-quite-sequitur into his own sense of unworthiness?
Dal, that is a tough one, IMO. What do you think?


 Ennis does tell Jack its the best way to make someone hear good-just hurt them. I think it ties to his childhood, ie, what Jack thinks he did to deserve getting hurt. The 'hear good' part has to be tied to 'I'm not no queer'-its the only time they talked about it on BBM. So what else was Ennis trying to make Jack hear, right? The problem is, the bathroom beating ties the punch to Jack's feelings of worthlessness. The two men that mattered the most to him, both enacted physical violence on him, and they were men who were supposed to love him-his father, and his lover. So I doubt he rationalizes what it was about-'that little punch a yours surprised me.' I imgine he was surprised, because of the DE hope, and the night (s) spent together in August... and he has a pre-existing explanation in the end: He can't get it right. That could be what how he incorporated it, I suppose. Just another deserved knockabout. "you won't catch me again', which to me implies he knows he seems to think he was doing something wrong....And it makes sense, if his being "cut wrong" becomes emeshed with his orientation, as he gets older. That might have been a moment of revelation for him, that shut him down to an extent-then he opened back up with the Reunion. If you recall, he already has one foot up on the running board, as he asks Ennis if he's going to come back next summer.

 I think the punch  is one moment that requires us to know what we don't find out until the end. Without the bathroom scene, we do not know that Jack started off with the deck stacked against him, in terms of his self-image. And I'm not talking about his orientation-I just mean what his father did to him.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on May 23, 2008, 02:57:14 PM
Rose, its a heartfelt post, no question, but I fear I disagree with some of it. But you already know that.......so I'll just 'let be.'  ;)
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: tonydude on May 23, 2008, 03:18:28 PM
   Am confused, but it should be easy to settle.  Didn't Heath reverse the shirts?  He said Annie very much approved.  So, what imagery is being discussed, the original or what Heath did, which ended up in the movie?  PLEASE be gentle.....I really don't understand.   Tony.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on May 23, 2008, 03:23:35 PM
yep, Heath reversed the shirts in the movie. We are not told anywhere Ennis in the SS did the same.

But what happens in the SS, is that the shirts are found in the reverse image of what the actual DE entailed: Ennis was holding Jack, originally.

When he finds the shirts, of course, Jack is 'holding' him. I just wanted some takes on that. We have Ennis's impression, and from the story, we have Jack's impression of the dozy embrace, his peak moment with Ennis-but we do not have his actual thoughts, when he nests the shirts in his closet.

Hope that clarifies.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: tonydude on May 23, 2008, 03:32:39 PM
   Please be patient, and please confirm:

-SS...Jack's shirt is over Ennis'

-film...Ennis' shirt over Jack's

Am sorry am slow-witted on this....bad day.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on May 23, 2008, 03:39:13 PM
   Please be patient, and please confirm:

-SS...Jack's shirt is over Ennis'-Yes

-film...Ennis' shirt over Jack's-no, then yes- in the beginning-when he finds the shirts, Jack's shirt is over his; later at the end of the movie, we see he has swtched them-his shirt is now over Jack's (Heath's idea)

Am sorry am slow-witted on this....bad day. No worries. I didnt mean to confuse...

tony, answers in bold, above.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Rosewood on May 23, 2008, 03:54:42 PM
Pardon me while I go GAK!! Okay, I'm done. :o
Wait, wait, I'm feeling another hairball working its way up.....!

GAK!!!!!!!

I never knew having a hairball could result in something so profound!  :o  ;)

*bows to you* Rosewood - that was freakin' brilliant!  I am in complete awe....

Ha!
Thanks, cazz.

Hold the smelling salts....Don't need 'em yet, Jo.  ;D
(Though I wish you'd go ahead and elaborate a bit as to where we disagree.
I'm not finding that much disparity.)

In the end when Ennis (at Heath's behest) tucks Jack's shirt inside his own,
he is doing EXACTLY what Jack did - though in reverse. The shirts are the only
way left for Ennis to freely express his own love for Jack.
In that moment, Ennis, aware of the symbolism, gives in to it.

Jack tucked lovingly inside Ennis.
Ennis offers the protection he failed to offer in life.
The truth he withheld.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: tonydude on May 23, 2008, 04:48:16 PM
  Thanks, Canstandit.

     Anyway, whatever the more intricate meanings of the position of the shirts, they do, themselves make for one of the most powerful literary devices I have ever seen or read.  It is very difficult to catch Annie out on the punch in the gut she seemed to intend, once  you've actually gone through it.  It's hard to go back to your first exposure to the story.  But, if you rack your memory you may find, in the SS, 2 stages, and then a quantum jump by the device of the shirts.
   Starting off, in the SS, you find her usual western theme, and 2 guys moving into an unlikely but reasonably interesting friendship.  When the sex begins, whoops, then we've got.... eventually, an affair, same gender, and therefore, of some expanded interest.  It is the device of the shirts which goes past that and establishes what many would consider one of the greatest love stories of all time.  Studying the SS, you might see this progression, which, of course, ends with everything said or done before having a deper meaning.
  In the film, there was some difficulty preserving this punch, but the screenplay writers and Ang Lee managed to convey romance (SNIT) and still reserve a punch for the end - not that there was love, but how deep that love was.
  But we went through that, and so, for us, we are seeing the love all along, which is basically unfair to Ennis and Jack, who were, themselves, working their way through it.  I guess what I am suggesting, is that you can only see BBM, the film, once, and every time you see it after that, there is too strong a tendency to see the 2 as dum-dums who couldn't say:  I love you.
  It is very difficult to go back to that very first time, but, IMO, it is essential to understanding, much of what we didn't know, THEY didn't know.  Clearly, Ennis never fully comprehended the depth of Jack's love until the shirts, otherwise he would not have reacted as he did.
 For me, then, it's always important to factor in what was known to either of them, before we work with what we, ourselves, finally knew - it was the great love, not a difficult love affair.
Thanks, again, Canstandit -   Tony.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on May 23, 2008, 04:59:42 PM
I agree-and we tend to learn with the characters. For example, what is not revealed unitl the end is known to Ennis previously-but he does not 'get it' until the end-we learn of the events, at the moment he learns from them, ie, the divorce debacle; the beating in the bathroom. When Ennis gets the impact on Jack, is when we learn these events happened, in the SS. So it is a shared sorrow, with the characters, that is altered by the requirements of cinema.

And yes, I agree the shirts are the moment Ennis knows. We know when Jack remembers the DE; its the one thing we have on Ennis in the book. But what we also come to realize from that momentof the shirts, is how desperate Jack really was when they parted -his macho foot up on the running board was a cover for his heartbreak, in a way.

Nice chatting with you.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Sandy on May 23, 2008, 06:40:48 PM
The fact that Heath Ledger changed the shirts, even though there is no mention of it in the short story, signifies to me that he had immersed himself enough in the story to pick up on and develop one aspect of the theme of love embedded in the story. True love involves, among other things, a mutuality, which is represented by the "interchangeability" of the two shirts. Two shirts placed in different orders, first in Jack's closet, then in Ennis' trailer, same love.

Rose,

I bow in awe.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Desecra on May 23, 2008, 11:40:33 PM
The shirt ALLOWS JACK TO EXPRESS HIS LOVE FOR ENNIS WITHOUT CONDEMNATION.
In a way, it is a moment of freedom, hidden though it is in his closet, upstairs in that bleakness of that little room.
Again, seen from afar this is a symbolic move, and yet, I can't think that Jack is aware that he is mired in
symbolism. He is simply doing all he can think of to do to assuage the pain in his heart.

He tucks Ennis lovingly inside himself.
That is the why of one shirt inside another.

Without condemnation from Ennis, do you mean?   Or are you including the world around him too?

I think initially, yes, taking the shirts is something Jack can do as an expression of love that he's unable to express in other ways (his own his shirt has the blood from the punch where an attempt to express a little loving ended so badly).   I'm not sure that they continue to be involved in the expression of his love.    We don't know if he touches them again, or if they're kept hidden away and hanging for all those years.

I think they mean a huge amount to us, but I agree that they don't necessarily mean exactly the same to Jack - he doesn't need to be aware of the symbolism.   They seem to represent their whole relationship, in various ways.     There's the love and the dozy embrace, of course - but also the blood,  Ennis's homophobia, the fact that they are hidden in a closet (as their love had to be), that they don't appear to have been moved or changed, Ennis shirt inside Jack (he has to keep their love hidden - there's an argument there for the idea that the parents are completely unaware of Jack's sexuality, or at least that Jack believes they are unaware).  There's the missing buttons, whatever they mean, etc.  Ennis is more aware of the meaning, or creates his own meaning.

Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on May 24, 2008, 01:52:53 AM
Pardon me while I go GAK!! Okay, I'm done. :o
Wait, wait, I'm feeling another hairball working its way up.....!

GAK!!!!!!!

I never knew having a hairball could result in something so profound!  :o  ;)

*bows to you* Rosewood - that was freakin' brilliant!  I am in complete awe....

Ha!
Thanks, cazz.

Hold the smelling salts....Don't need 'em yet, Jo.  ;D
(Though I wish you'd go ahead and elaborate a bit as to where we disagree.
I'm not finding that much disparity.)

In the end when Ennis (at Heath's behest) tucks Jack's shirt inside his own,
he is doing EXACTLY what Jack did - though in reverse. The shirts are the only
way left for Ennis to freely express his own love for Jack.
In that moment, Ennis, aware of the symbolism, gives in to it.

Jack tucked lovingly inside Ennis.
Ennis offers the protection he failed to offer in life.
The truth he withheld.
hi  ;D  ;D Don't mind me, about the salts-your GAK cracked me up, never mind furballs, or whatever- :D

The one section I took a wee exception to is an old argument of ours-what Jack knew when, with regards to certain 'things'.

As to the rest, no question in my mind, you've hit the nail on the head with the idea that the shirts show Jack making an irrefutable statement, that would've remained in the safety of the shallow cavity, in the jog, had he not passed on. No, they are 'exposed', yet Ennis can't do anything about them, but accept them and know what they mean. Of course, he is primed to do just that. Its all he's got left.

Isn't that awful? Haven't we talked about this, that he has NOTHING of Jack's, but memories and those shirts? after 20 years? It's freakin terrible, is what it is......And to be so casually brought in to the "arrangrments" by Lureen, as if he were an errand boy. Such a harsh story.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Rosewood on May 24, 2008, 01:45:06 PM
Thanks, Sandy.
All this bowing is making me blush. :-[
But in my heart it please me no end.
Shows to go you that I'm not immune to flattery. ;)
Hey, I'm human.

Jo, you've hit on the perfect word: harsh.
In SO MANY ways this is the harshest story ever told.
In-your-face harsh.
No-way-to-soften-the-blow harsh.
The author cares that she's breaking our hearts but is
helpless to do anything about it.

"These boys were doomed from the start". A.P.

I'm wondering if you're saying that Jack DIDN'T KNOW from the
first that he was in love with Ennis? Because if so, then we do have a major
disagreement. Oh well, what are friends for?  ;)

Here's my thinking on it:
IF Jack DID NOT know from the beginning, did not sense that his life
had been altered in some way, had not felt the pain in his heart, then the story
loses a lot of its resonance. For me, at least.
Why take the shirt then?
Souvenir of good sex?

Hardly.

See, to me, Jack MUST be ennobled or risk being seen as someone ordinary.
The taking of the shirt and the reason behind it ennobles him - raises him up in
my estimation. It is, in many ways, his moment of grace.
As is the DE for Ennis.

EVEN IF AP desired them both to be ordinary boys caught up in
an ordinary life in their ordinary world, the love they fall into disrupts that.
It MUST disrupt or it is nothing.

EVEN IF THIS IS NOT WHAT AP INTENDED.

The story is out of her hands now. It is ours.

Des: Good question.
I think I mean that the shirt is taken by Jack into his solitary little world.
The world within that room.
There, one supposes, he's free to dream, to feel, to imagine, to wonder WITHOUT
the condemnation of ANYONE.  (Father, Ennis, a world he can't control.)
The room is his refuge, I suppose, where he goes to lick his wounds - or did when
he was young. Possibly one of the reasons why the mother keeps it
exactly as it was. She may understand that Jack NEEDS it to be so.

Jack, as we know, is not so afraid of his nature that it cripples him emotionally but
I think in many ways he is afraid of his dreams. His dreams NOT coming true that is.
He's smart enough to know he can't shout his sexuality to the world, but I believe he is content
enough with his appetites. In fact, I don't think he does a great deal of soul-searching.
In his mind and heart, he is what he is.
At least that's how I see him.

Yes, as I've said, he is unaware of symbolism. Possibly because he's too busy living.
But that room...

And yes, obviously, what the shirts represent to Jack need not be the same thing they
represent to us.

Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on May 24, 2008, 09:12:10 PM
You know what just struck me? Switching gears here, not much of a segue, I know....

I was looking at the shot of Ennis knocking Jack's hat off on BBM-you know we all love the post-coital cuddle? It seems to me, that's what Ennis may have been after, if the thought is they had just got thru with each other...Maybe that rough playfulness, ending in the horizontal shuffle, was his way of staying in contact with Jack, after.  I feel like he knew where it was going to lead, that he was establishing a cozy pattern....

Just one of those thoughts that fly in out of nowhere.

You all have a great Memorial Day weekend, those who will be absent from here...I'll be at a party later tomorrow.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Dagonet on May 24, 2008, 09:19:14 PM
Jo, you've hit on the perfect word: harsh.
In SO MANY ways this is the harshest story ever told.
In-your-face harsh.
No-way-to-soften-the-blow harsh.
The author cares that she's breaking our hearts but is
helpless to do anything about it.

Helpless?  I would say not.  "Nothing like hurtin somebody to make him hear good."


You know what just struck me? Switching gears here, not much of a segue, I know....

I was looking at the shot of Ennis knocking Jack's hat off on BBM-you know we all love the post-coital cuddle? It seems to me, that's what Ennis may have been after, if the thought is they had just got thru with each other...Maybe that rough playfulness, ending in the horizontal shuffle, was his way of staying in contact with Jack, after.  I feel like he knew where it was going to lead, that he was establishing a cozy pattern....

So Ennis, almost completely self-contained, showing so little of himself, saying almost nothing, wants the simple, pure joy of roughhousing with someone he trusts.  While Jack, Jack the bullrider, Jack who is always in motion, always dreaming of something more, craves the perfect stillness of the Dozy Embrace.  I like that, CANSTANDIT.  I like that very much. 




Cheers,

Dagonet
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: royandronnie on May 25, 2008, 06:25:58 PM

So Ennis, almost completely self-contained, showing so little of himself, saying almost nothing, wants the simple, pure joy of roughhousing with someone he trusts.  While Jack, Jack the bullrider, Jack who is always in motion, always dreaming of something more, craves the perfect stillness of the Dozy Embrace. 

CSI gave you a good springboard, Dagonet, but you made this idea your own. What an insight.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on May 26, 2008, 02:04:03 AM
That's interesting, Dagonet-With the DE we can get the sense that it seems uncharacteristic of tough little Jack to crave the infant-like rocking; with repressed Ennis, the idea of him breaking out an being playful, of wanting to connect.
That is an interesting contrast; it shows how well-suited they were to each other, too.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: janjo on May 26, 2008, 07:52:16 AM
Yin and Yang, two halves of a whole, perfectly complementary, made for each other. Perfect!
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: fofol on May 27, 2008, 01:04:08 PM
The author cares that she's breaking our hearts but is helpless to do anything about it.


Helpless?  I would say not.  "Nothing like hurtin somebody to make him hear good."


    Undoubtedly one of the most accurate and concise literary criticisms.  Ever.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Rosewood on May 27, 2008, 01:42:21 PM
Hear good?
Hear what?
What am I supposed to be hearing in this tale that makes it any less heartbreaking?
Are you now sighting Ennis's father's words to make sense of this? I'm supposed to listen
to this wretch?

AP herself has said she cried during stretches of writing BBM - what does that
tell you?

I know what it tells me and I still say she was 'helpless to do anything about it'.
Having created Jack and Ennis in a certain mold, she could do nothing to break it.

Oh, she might have tagged on a different ending if she'd so chosen. IF THE CHARACTERS
WOULD HAVE ALLOWED HER. She could have had Ennis beat the hell out of the guys
who attacked Jack and maybe save Jack's life IF Ennis had been the type to go down
to Texas and drag Jack back to a happy life together.

OR -

She could have made Jack and Ennis go down fighting together.
Two bloodied corpses in a ditch.
Heroic in their struggle to be together.

She didn't.

Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: royandronnie on May 27, 2008, 05:19:36 PM
"For what it's worth:" there is no question that characters can take on a life of their own and dictate to the writer how their stories will go. That is to say, as the writing starts to go in a certain direction, it cannot be made to go in other directions without violating the "truth" of the story. I have experienced this myself. It's a very odd feeling, and you do really feel as though you're not completely in control of what's being written. PS This generally tends to happen when you're doing a good job!
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on May 28, 2008, 08:31:48 AM
I know what you mean...if you llisten to whatever muse is guiding you, you have to go in a certain direction.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Rosewood on May 28, 2008, 01:53:19 PM
Exactly what I was saying, in my roundabout, grumpy way. ;)
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on May 28, 2008, 03:12:30 PM
Hi, Rose,
The fact that she didn't make them go down together makes it all the more, painful, no? There was a lot to salvage from their separate 'wrecks'. And it didn't happen.... In a way, its true-we often  have to hurt, to hear.  In the end, Jack's death made Ennis hear good, didn't it?
To quote Joker  ;):
"What doesn't kill you, makes you.....stranger.' Whether it affects for the bad or the good-it certainly alters us.

Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: royandronnie on May 28, 2008, 08:40:52 PM
Oh, certainly; the cruelty of it all is a great part of its power, and for us, the greatest cruelty is not that they did not end up together, nor that Jack died, it's that neither we nor Ennis will ever know how he died. Were Ennis' fears pointless, or justified? Was Jack's death just a pointless tragedy that kept him from going back in November--or was it a murder that in story terms was necessary, to make Ennis--and us--hear good? The fact that Ennis believes it was murder will certainly, in my opinion, keep him from ever finding happiness with someone else, simply because the belief reinforces his need to keep his head down. So we know he will live the rest of his life alone and lonely, his girls only a partial substitute for what he must also believe he partially caused. But he doesn't KNOW. And neither do we. I remember Aslan's line: "no one is told any history but their own." But we always want to be 3d person omniscent. I'm not sure even Annie is that, deep down. I think, but I don't KNOW.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on May 29, 2008, 01:00:30 AM
Succinct post, above.

I think the not knowing removes the scapegoat for Ennis's failure to thrive in the relationship: Jack died because he was gay. It may be an important point; but what is more important at that moment, is Ennis facing his feelings and his choices. That has to be the primary motivation in the story, because its really the ONLY way he'd see to reason. He proved, by his collapse, and his springing back up, that he could not tolerate the status quo being altered. He  proved his tragic flaw to Jack-and ultimately he proves it to us, I think.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: janjo on May 29, 2008, 04:19:36 AM
Ennis, in effect, is left with nothing, other than his memories of Jack. Nothing.
That is what so devastated me the first time I saw the film.
I have never seen anyone so completely bereft.
He doesn't have Jack's ashes, he doesn't know what happened to him, he doesn't see his daughters very often, he has "no furniture," he has no real prospect of a new love in his life, because he can't make it with a female, and he is too terrified to find another male, (even if anyone could ever replace Jack, which they can't).
He has nothing.

Bloody story! :'( :'(
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on May 29, 2008, 07:58:32 AM
Yeah, that's basically it, isn't it?   :(

The one salvation is that he DID make that connection; and in the end, it brings him only pleasure. How utterly tragic.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Ministering angel on May 29, 2008, 08:45:16 AM
Oh, certainly; the cruelty of it all is a great part of its power, and for us, the greatest cruelty is not that they did not end up together, nor that Jack died, it's that neither we nor Ennis will ever know how he died. Were Ennis' fears pointless, or justified? Was Jack's death just a pointless tragedy that kept him from going back in November--or was it a murder that in story terms was necessary, to make Ennis--and us--hear good? The fact that Ennis believes it was murder will certainly, in my opinion, keep him from ever finding happiness with someone else, simply because the belief reinforces his need to keep his head down. So we know he will live the rest of his life alone and lonely, his girls only a partial substitute for what he must also believe he partially caused. But he doesn't KNOW. And neither do we. I remember Aslan's line: "no one is told any history but their own." But we always want to be 3d person omniscent. I'm not sure even Annie is that, deep down. I think, but I don't KNOW.

I don't see the lack of knowledge on our part as being the greatest cruelty. While I have a "favourite" theory as to how Jack died, it doesn't really concern me that I don't know for sure. I can see that Ennis might feel the cruelty of not knowing, at least in the beginning, but in the end he possibly reaches the same conclusion as me - that regardless of the manner of death, Jack died because of what Ennis wouldn't/couldn't do. In the end it doesn't matter whether Jack had another man, or whether he just got unlucky, or anything else; either way, Ennis has to live with his own failure.

And it would seem - to me, at least - that in the end he does come to accept everything and thus comes to a state of small pleasure, at least for a while here and there. I think he reaches a state of natural equilibrium after trying so hard to balance his conflicting sides all his life.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: janjo on May 29, 2008, 09:49:13 AM
I don't think it matters that we don't know how jack died, but I think it matters to Ennis, as you say either way he feels responsible, but not know ing is also another loss in his life.
He does reach an equilibrium in the end, as you say, but it is a very lonesome equilibrium in which no one else can ever share.
He has wasted most of his life, and he knows it.
He only has one life, just like the rest of us, and he knows he has thrown the only chance he ever had of happiness away!
I could, and do, weep for him!
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Rosewood on May 29, 2008, 01:27:37 PM
I don't think it matters that we don't know how jack died, but I think it matters to Ennis, as you say either way he feels responsible, but not know ing is also another loss in his life.
He does reach an equilibrium in the end, as you say, but it is a very lonesome equilibrium in which no one else can ever share.
He has wasted most of his life, and he knows it.
He only has one life, just like the rest of us, and he knows he has thrown the only chance he ever had of happiness away!
I could, and do, weep for him!

I think a lot of what we do here is 'weeping' for Ennis, 'mourning' for Jack.
Each in our separate ways.

I recently gave the story to a friend of mine who hadn't read it yet OR seen the film.
Can't wait to see what she makes of them.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on May 29, 2008, 02:06:15 PM
It seems amazing to me that there are still people who know nothing about the story...I have to think back to myself before seeing Heath ledger in his cowboy hat in the TV spots, and thinking, 'hmmm-cute. Better go see that.' It was like having a door open up that I wasn't fully aware was there....
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Ministering angel on May 29, 2008, 04:50:58 PM
I don't think it matters that we don't know how jack died, but I think it matters to Ennis, as you say either way he feels responsible, but not know ing is also another loss in his life.
He does reach an equilibrium in the end, as you say, but it is a very lonesome equilibrium in which no one else can ever share.
He has wasted most of his life, and he knows it.
He only has one life, just like the rest of us, and he knows he has thrown the only chance he ever had of happiness away!
I could, and do, weep for him!

I wonder if he does think along that line. I'm sure that must play a small part but I suspect his major regrets concern what he failed to do for Jack. I feel he'd be quite prepared to take his own lumps but he'd suffer most over his bad treatment of Jack. By the prologue he seems to have lost the guilt component and is able to enjoy the good feelings, even if they are slippery and transient.

To me, he has always had a strong fatalistic streak and I don't think it disappears when he finds the shirts. When re tries to rewarm the old cold time, I guess he is working through what he could have done differently, but I don't get a sense that he is berating himself, not any longer.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: janjo on May 29, 2008, 05:21:07 PM
I read "If you ain't got nothin' you don't need nothin'," which I know is not in the book, but is in the screenplay, as Ennis relinquishing all claims to any kind of good life for himself after what he did to Jack.
In a way, I think he is punishing himself for his failings, more especially the way he failed Jack.
He has nothing left that he wants.
Is this not at least some attempt to pay his penance for what he feels are his misdeeds
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Ministering angel on May 29, 2008, 05:36:59 PM
That's what I'm saying, that at first, through the dreams and whatever else, he is feeling guilt for what he did or didn't do, but later on, in the prologue, there isn't that component of guilt, simply the reviewing of what happened. My point was that his regrets were shaped in terms of what he did to Jack, rather than in terms of what life dished out to Ennis himself. I don't think he would have regarded himself with pity, as in "he knows he has thrown the only chance he ever had of happiness away."
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Dagonet on May 29, 2008, 09:21:11 PM
It seems amazing to me that there are still people who know nothing about the story...I have to think back to myself before seeing Heath ledger in his cowboy hat in the TV spots, and thinking, 'hmmm-cute. Better go see that.' It was like having a door open up that I wasn't fully aware was there....

There're still a few of us around, peeking out from under our rocks from time to time.  =)  And wondering how many posts we have to make before we can finally get our feet dry.   ;D


He only has one life, just like the rest of us, and he knows he has thrown the only chance he ever had of happiness away!

It's not merely happiness (as if happiness could ever be a merely)--I think that Jack was Ennis' key to just about everything his life was missing.  The true love, the perfect union of souls, the one person who lifts him out of himself and offers him the chance to be something better, something more, than what he is; Jack is all of that to Ennis.  But he also represents a chance at work which is both fulfilling and (I assume--feel free to correct me if I'm mistaken) financially secure.  He represents a home, a real home just for the two of them.  He even brings with him parents who I believe (though I know I'm in the minority here) would have accepted Ennis without hesitation.  Well, without much hesitation, and a maybe a few nasty remarks.  In any case, all of the holes in Ennis' life, all of the empty spaces which grow wider with the passage of time, could have been filled by Jack.  With his death, Ennis is left at the center of an open space which extends in all directions, extends forever, warming his hands over the tiny fire of his memories.

So I'm not sure if there's any sense of (self)-punishment (in the sense of willfully denying himself comforts material or otherwise) involved here.  It might just be that Jack represented the only chance Ennis ever had to escape from his personal hell.  Surely the knowledge that he could have escaped, that they both could have escaped, is punishment enough.


Cheers,

Dagonet

Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: janjo on May 30, 2008, 02:05:13 AM
Dagonet, I agree with your summation completely of what Ennis has given up. "Happiness" was my shorthand for all that. As to whether Ennis is punishing himself, I suspect in his stoicism, that he has in effect been punishing himself all of his life. He has never known "plenty"either emotionally or physically / financially. In many ways it is what he is. He doesn't actually think he deserves anything. In some ways he didn't think he deserved Jack. He seemed almost too good to be true,as far as Ennis is concerned. He doesn't think he deserves to be loved, or that anyone could ever love him.
It is this state of unbelief that is so contradicted when he finds the shirts.
He can hardly believe himself worthy of Jack's love, and yet here is concrete proof that he did have it, and for twenty years too.
He does have to face up to what he did with that love, and it is not a comforting thought. The memories of what Jack gave him and did for him are a comfort though.
I do see an equilibrium, but there are factors on both sides, joy, and guilt and pain.
Sometimes the pillows were wet, sometimes the sheets.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: royandronnie on June 05, 2008, 06:26:12 PM
I was thinking about that pesky Dozy Embrace again, and got to wondering.

We've expended a lot of energy about the semantics of nearly every word in it, true enough. But I was wondering about a different aspect of "he would not then embrace him f2f because he did not want to see or feel that it was Jack he held." The consensus is that Jack remembers an actual, not metaphorical, event, and recalls it accurately. But he is also now viewing it through the lens of their entire relationship. We believe Jack has feelings of worthlessness, and that Ennis partially accepted and partially rejected him, in a balance that shifted from one scene to another. I wonder if it's possible that Jack in bitterness could be making a judgement against himself in this line? I'm not sure there's evidence to support this. Most of our evidence for his lack of self-esteem is inferred, whereas for example his nerve and his readiness to blame anyone but himself for his failures is explicit in the story. But could Jack here be thinking bitterly and sarcastically--"he didn't want me," in essence? It's interesting that the line does not read "or feel that it was a man he held." Could Jack, broken and disillusioned, be trying to hurt himself further?
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Oregondoggie on June 05, 2008, 07:45:09 PM
Regarding the dozy embrace, Royandronnie quotes "he would not then embrace him f2f because he did not want to see or feel that it was Jack he held."

I believe Proulx is accurately portraying the confusion/fear/driving passion that sears those moments when gay people first begin to sexually and emotionally interact with their own gender.  It is against a titanic backdrop of disapproval.  Social.  Religious.  Family.  No, they never got much further than that.  Yet it is the happiest moment in Jack's life.  He will never know that Ennis only makes the transition completely when it's too late. 
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Ministering angel on June 05, 2008, 08:17:42 PM
R&R, this gets back to the knowledge and when Jack acquired that knowledge. I believe the whole original memory, the original experience, was completely positive for Jack. At the time it would have been a real step in the right direction for him, all his Christmasses coming at once. The fact that it wasn't f2f would have had no real effect upon the beauty of the memory. Jack would have believed that Ennis's initial reluctance to "face up" to their relationship - a reluctance that was expressed physically and verbally - would eventually be overcome. The DE more or less tells him that. This sexless moment is a huge step forward.

So the memory when it is first laid down,i.e. as it happens, is all good. The solidifying into the one moment of artless charmed happiness comes about over the years as it becomes apparent that there will be no other DEs. The knowledge would maybe develop after the reunion when Ennis clearly shows he cannot accept his sexuality and therefore cannot accept Jack's.

I'm sure you are right, that he is making a judgment against himself when he remembers why Ennis would not hold him.  Perhaps he thinks that another man might have been good enough to make Ennis come to terms with his sexuality, might have been able to show him it was okay. But Jack can't ever get it right, in his own estimation, and despite twenty years passing, he has never got it right with Ennis. Jack would see this as a fault of his own, rather than a fault of Ennis's.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Oregondoggie on June 05, 2008, 09:13:25 PM

I'm sure you are right, that he is making a judgment against himself when he remembers why Ennis would not hold him.  Perhaps he thinks that another man might have been good enough to make Ennis come to terms with his sexuality, might have been able to show him it was okay. But Jack can't ever get it right, in his own estimation, and despite twenty years passing, he has never got it right with Ennis. Jack would see this as a fault of his own, rather than a fault of Ennis's.

It never hit me that Jack blamed himself, either in the short story or the movie.  My take on the tragedy of Ennis del Mar, is that Jack moved on.  Ennis loses him and has years to blame himself.  Proulx never even hints that there would ever be anyone else for Ennis... only the dreams. 

 


Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Ministering angel on June 05, 2008, 11:08:27 PM
I figure that Jack was taught from an early age that he could never get it right with his old man and yet he kept trying, year after year. Even when his hopes for getting Ennis up to Lightning Flat are shattered after the final argument, he still says to his daddy how he'll bring the ranch neighbour up there to lick the place into shape.

Ennis made sure that Jack never talked about the real issues, and Jack just let that situation stand for all those years, even when he was sliding down the emotional slopes. I just doubt that someone who allowed his life to be corralled this way would ever be able to pick himself up, dust himself down, and start all over again.

Each to their own interpretation, of course, but I see the parallel lines of two men whose fathers ruined their chance at a sweet life, either together or apart.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: janjo on June 06, 2008, 01:13:50 AM
Ang Lee once described in an interview the difficult relationship that he had with his father. He was apparently a tough man, who had been a revolutionary, and had fled to Taiwan to escape his oppressors. He apparently found it hard to accept a son who was first an actor and then a film director, considering them to not be "proper jobs."
Brokeback is dedicated to Ang's father, Shen, who was finally proud of his sons achievements, and who died at around the time Ang was making the film. I think this aspect of fathers and how they can mess up their sons lives was very close to Ang's heart, and was just one of the reasons, why this aspect is brought out so powerfully in the film. Also possibly why the subject matter appealed so much to Ang in the first place.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: royandronnie on June 06, 2008, 06:37:51 PM
I think this aspect of fathers and how they can mess up their sons lives was very close to Ang's heart, and was just one of the reasons, why this aspect is brought out so powerfully in the film. Also possibly why the subject matter appealed so much to Ang in the first place.

Really interesting.

It is true, ODog, that love can die, eventually, when nothing changes. So I agree with you to that point. I personally don't think Jack ever stopped loving Ennis, but perhaps just what "love" was after fifteen years of status quo is debateable. An ember might be hot enough to burn skin but not enough to ignite a fresh piece of wood. But I am thinking the same thing as MinAngel: by the time of the Final Argument, Jack may not exactly have been geriatric, but equally was he "no longer a young man with all of it before him." His formative years had been centered on Ennis. His heart, if not his body, is too old to really start over. And of course whatever Randall might have done in the movie, we don't have any knowledge of the ranch neighbor in the story, so we have no way of knowing whether he would even have considered leaving his wife for Jack. Jack seems in the rest of the story to have dreamed alone. We do know he drank. I don't claim to doubt he was having a gay affair in Childress, but presumably he would likely have been stinking drunk in the days immediately after the Final Argument. A case could also be made that the gay affair as well was only in his imagination, though I'm just saying this as an exercise of my imagination!
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on June 08, 2008, 01:27:20 PM
Love does change...any of us that have been in long term relationships know that. We grow, ergo, we change. When one grows but the other does not-that's the when the problems happen. Or when we grow apart. I think Ennis was a creature of habit, having been stunted  to a degree as a child; whereas Jack just seemed more resilient-he not only survived; he internalized some changes. But here is a big problem: When one finds what appears to be the perfect mate,  it can, in fact, cause all other facets of life to get skewed when that relationship is not working. 'Like most of Jack's ideas, it never come to pass'-that is from Jack's dad. He was unknowingly telling Ennis, 'Because you didn't come thru for Jack, nothing much else did.' I think that does happen, quite often. You see the results with the lonely old guys you see around sometimes, or with the beaten-down, bitter older women. Love doesn't always works for everyone. That's life.

I can understand from this why there are people who may not be sure if Jack quit, but may WANT him to have quit-to beat the odds of living a life based on a failed love.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Rosewood on June 08, 2008, 02:25:12 PM
If Jack is chastising himself in some way in the DE, we'd have to credit him with
an ironic understanding that I'm not sure he was capable of. Though, truth
be told, I'd not thought him capable of even that much understanding of the scope
of their relationship UNTIL the DE. In that moment we see that Jack is very aware of
what he never got from Ennis - what he'd most needed and wanted for himself.
In that moment, I think, he comes to a final understanding of himself and beautifully
reveals it to us. He is aware of the HUGE failure of their relationship and what's more,
it is a failure that Ennis himself seems totally unaware of. How sad is that?
Is it any wonder that Jack goes 'home' wounded to the core?

But whether Jack blames himself in any way for this failure, I don't know. I don't see it.
I tend to suspect he blames Ennis for NOT understanding, for not being CAPABLE of
understanding him - Jack. He sees Ennis's failure and he ACCEPTS it. '...let be, let be...'
If this isn't love, I don't know what is.

I've always wondered if Jack would have given up Ennis had he known the life they'd lead.
He could, if he'd been unhappy enough, have walked away earlier on and spared himself a life of misery.
But he didn't. Obviously he wasn't unhappy enough in the beginning.
The feelings of emptiness would have come upon him over the years, probably accelerating after the
divorce fiasco. It was then, I think (especially in the film), that Jack finally understood the unchanging
nature of Ennis's fears.

But my feeling has always been that Jack would rather have been miserable with Ennis than
'happy' without. Pre-supposing he could have been remotely 'happy' at all minus Ennis in his life.
This may, after all, have been unimaginable for him.

A lot of us know what love is like.
It can be the best thing in the world.
But -
It can also be the cruelest thing.

This story has components of both.
It is not 'either/or'.
That to me, is its power.

Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Dagonet on June 08, 2008, 03:07:38 PM
If Jack is chastising himself in some way in the DE, we'd have to credit him with
an ironic understanding that I'm not sure he was capable of.

Well. . .  If, as has been suggested here and elsewhere, Jack's default is a belief in his own unworthiness, his own "I'm-just-not-good-enough," then he would tend to gravitate towards that as the explanation for anything which goes wrong.  Blaming himself would be his first answer.

But I'm not sure how much (if any) blame there is here--it reads more to me as if Jack is just stating the facts (perhaps, as you say, for the first time):  what is present, what is missing, where he and Ennis are, where he and Ennis are going.  They are who they are, and Jack knows it, and there's nothing to be done about it.

But my feeling has always been that Jack would rather have been miserable with Ennis than
'happy' without. Pre-supposing he could have been remotely 'happy' at all minus Ennis in his life.
This may, after all, have been unimaginable for him.

" 'Cause I am barely breathing
And I can't find the air
I don't know who I'm kidding
Imagining you care
And I could stand here waiting
A fool for another day
But I don't suppose it's worth the price, worth the price
the price that I would pay
But I'm thinking it over anyway. . ." 
     --Duncan Sheik


Cheers,

Dagonet
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on June 08, 2008, 05:54:18 PM
'...and maybe they'd not got much farther than that.' This is Jack's final thought before, 'let be, let be'. I think Jack holds himself accountable, to some extent.. He is the one who could not get it right, in his mind, with his father, from age 3. And he tells Ennis the story as an adult-the impact did not really alter. Jack thought he was a a failure then, and in the retelling, he still was a failure. Whether or not he sees the other man's flaws, ie, Ennis's or his father's, he still thinks he has to make things right. I doubt his father ever said, 'I'm sorry'  or ever revealed frailties. With an omniscent parent, how could a boy think otherwise?  Ennis also never copped to any responsibility for Jack's unhappiness-he proves it by his rage in the last argument. Where is the apology for having turned down Jack's offer from years back? Has that occurred to any of us? Do you just brush off someone who wants to live with you? That is a pretty big effin deal. But to Ennis, the idea is so abhorant, he actually strikes out to a degree. And still, 16 years later, he has not changed his tune. 'It ain't goin a be that way' has devolved into 'all them things I don't know, could get you killed.' So where is Jack to look, but to himself, if he already has failed, in his mind, with his father? He already knows he's a rodeo fuck-up. I don't see where anything or anyone has offered him another view. Perhaps that it he REAL thread of the RN. Jack perhaps was trying to find out how Ennis's pov compared-and he got back worse, I think, than he imagined. It was IMO, not enough to offset any new attention from anyone else.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Ministering angel on June 08, 2008, 07:33:24 PM
Could you run that thought about the RN past me again, Jo?
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on June 08, 2008, 11:08:38 PM
Could you run that thought about the RN past me again, Jo?
What I mean is, Jack may have been out looking.  'Thread' should have been 'threat'.
So he goes back to Ennis, to test the temperature, knowing he has this surrogate on the side, and then realizes he is not going to get from Ennis something that would give him the impetus to stop with the surrogate-the RN. So he realizes he will always have substitutes, never the real Ennis. To me, this is the catalyst for him giving up. I don't see him as just taking an alternate,while he and Ennis both walk the earth. Ennis became his symbol of salvation, psychologically, emotionally, sexually. What a terrible realization the DE must've been. Over the cliff.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Ministering angel on June 08, 2008, 11:45:17 PM
So are you saying that the RN is not the right person for Jack to "get it right" with? If he could get it right with the RN, would he still need Ennis? Or had Ennis replaced his old man, so that now he had to get it right with Ennis rather than the old man? I suspect that Jack was attracted to men with whom he didn't have much of a hope of getting it right. Maybe the RN was just another of these.

Hang on. If he followed that pattern, the RN would be another person who didn't appear to accept Jack for who he was. Therefore, the likelihood of him ever coming up to LF to fix the ranch becomes almost zilch. It generally seems to be assumed that if the RN had been approached on the subject that he had shown a willingness to come and live with Jack but maybe he had shown an unwillingness, if not for the same reasons as Ennis. He was a rancher, not a ranchhand, so did Jack once again pick someone who was unlikely to be part of his dream? Was he deliberately aiming high so that he could fail?

And if so, why would he do that? two reasons come to mind - that way, Jack would set himself up for failure yet again, and also he would have less chance of having to make a choice about Ennis, should Ennis turn him down again at the May meeting (or whenever he screwed up the courage to broach the subject again.)
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on June 09, 2008, 12:21:36 AM
I think yes to most of what you are saying, except for the idea of the RN being right with Ennis out of the picture. I think its a moot question, really, and Jack's death proves it. He cannot survive once he loses hope for Ennis. The only thing I see that is realistically speculative to me,  about the RN, is the fact of him being an actual rancher. That tells me two things: He is the financially successful version of Ennis, I have no doubt; and he may be indeed, unlikely to give up something so hard to maintain, like a ranch; or his beard, in such a macho profession.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: fofol on June 09, 2008, 12:09:54 PM
I think this aspect of fathers and how they can mess up their sons lives was very close to Ang's heart, and was just one of the reasons, why this aspect is brought out so powerfully in the film. Also possibly why the subject matter appealed so much to Ang in the first place.

Really interesting.

It is true, ODog, that love can die, eventually, when nothing changes. So I agree with you to that point. I personally don't think Jack ever stopped loving Ennis, but perhaps just what "love" was after fifteen years of status quo is debateable. An ember might be hot enough to burn skin but not enough to ignite a fresh piece of wood. But I am thinking the same thing as MinAngel: by the time of the Final Argument, Jack may not exactly have been geriatric, but equally was he "no longer a young man with all of it before him." His formative years had been centered on Ennis. His heart, if not his body, is too old to really start over. And of course whatever Randall might have done in the movie, we don't have any knowledge of the ranch neighbor in the story, so we have no way of knowing whether he would even have considered leaving his wife for Jack. Jack seems in the rest of the story to have dreamed alone. We do know he drank. I don't claim to doubt he was having a gay affair in Childress, but presumably he would likely have been stinking drunk in the days immediately after the Final Argument. A case could also be made that the gay affair as well was only in his imagination, though I'm just saying this as an exercise of my imagination!

   Just a quick observation - in the short story, every time we're told specifically that Jack has sex away from Ennis, he pays for it.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Dagonet on June 09, 2008, 01:17:51 PM
   Just a quick observation - in the short story, every time we're told specifically that Jack has sex away from Ennis, he pays for it.

Not quite:  at the Reunion, Jack "had been riding more than bulls, not rolling his own."  While there's some uncertainty as to whether these partners were men or women, (presumably) no payment was involved. 


Cheers,

Dagonet
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Ministering angel on June 09, 2008, 05:48:33 PM
Fofol, I have to disagree. All we are told about money is that he had some of his own after his father-in-law's death and he found ways of spending it on business trips. And that he 'd been to Mexico. Are you saying he paid his "friends" or the ranch neighbour?
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: fofol on June 10, 2008, 05:27:43 AM
   Just a quick observation - in the short story, every time we're told specifically that Jack has sex away from Ennis, he pays for it.

Not quite:  at the Reunion, Jack "had been riding more than bulls, not rolling his own."  While there's some uncertainty as to whether these partners were men or women, (presumably) no payment was involved. 


Cheers,

Dagonet

   I'm sorry, I didn't get that part of the citation where "no funds exchange hands" is part of "rolling your own."  Can you refer to it for me, please?
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: fofol on June 10, 2008, 05:36:24 AM
Fofol, I have to disagree. All we are told about money is that he had some of his own after his father-in-law's death and he found ways of spending it on business trips. And that he 'd been to Mexico. Are you saying he paid his "friends" or the ranch neighbour?

   Please quote the story where it clearly says he had sex with "friends" or the ranch neighbor.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Ministering angel on June 10, 2008, 06:02:47 AM
Mike, nowhere in the story does it state clearly that Jack has sex with anyone other than Ennis and Lureen. Everything has to be deduced.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: fofol on June 10, 2008, 08:01:36 AM
Mike, nowhere in the story does it state clearly that Jack has sex with anyone other than Ennis and Lureen. Everything has to be deduced.

   So, then, the only times the story actually says he has sex away from Ennis, it does say he uses money for it.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Dal on June 10, 2008, 08:07:08 AM
Where does it say clearly that Jack had sex with Lureen?  Or Ennis with Alma?  Do we know that money was not part of those transactions?  Maybe that's what happened to the pair of fins in Ennis's coffee can.

How clear does it have to be?  Just wondering.  Evidently, the bar is pretty high!
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: fofol on June 10, 2008, 08:59:02 AM
Where does it say clearly that Jack had sex with Lureen?  Or Ennis with Alma?  Do we know that money was not part of those transactions?  Maybe that's what happened to the pair of fins in Ennis's coffee can.

How clear does it have to be?  Just wondering.  Evidently, the bar is pretty high!

   Well, Lureen and Alma do have children by their respective spouses, although in Jack's case I suppose that would have to be an assumption - any woman who will pick up a man in a bar and have sex in the back seat of her car wouldn't limit herself just one guy or just one time, would she?  Offensive as it is to me, yes those transactions both involve money - money (lack thereof) is Alma's reason for not having unprotected sex with Ennis.  Lureen isn't that easy as she seems to be the primary money earner in her family, so what do you think?
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Ministering angel on June 10, 2008, 09:42:35 AM
Mike, nowhere in the story does it state clearly that Jack has sex with anyone other than Ennis and Lureen. Everything has to be deduced.

   So, then, the only times the story actually says he has sex away from Ennis, it does say he uses money for it.
No. It. Doesn't. Unless you shift the goalposts to suit. We are never specifically told that Jack pays for sex. What point are you trying to make here?

I will concede that we aren't told specifically that Jack had sex with Lureen but "Bobby" is some sort of proof. Let's not go mad and suggest that he's not Jack's. What would be the point in that?
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: fofol on June 10, 2008, 11:04:33 AM
Mike, nowhere in the story does it state clearly that Jack has sex with anyone other than Ennis and Lureen. Everything has to be deduced.

   So, then, the only times the story actually says he has sex away from Ennis, it does say he uses money for it.
No. It. Doesn't. Unless you shift the goalposts to suit. We are never specifically told that Jack pays for sex. What point are you trying to make here?

I will concede that we aren't told specifically that Jack had sex with Lureen but "Bobby" is some sort of proof. Let's not go mad and suggest that he's not Jack's. What would be the point in that?

   Actually, Mini , it does, unless you think Mexican hustlers do it for love, or that the money he found ways to spend on his trips was spent on whiskey and postcards... ;D
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Dagonet on June 10, 2008, 11:54:26 AM
Not quite:  at the Reunion, Jack "had been riding more than bulls, not rolling his own."  While there's some uncertainty as to whether these partners were men or women, (presumably) no payment was involved. 

   I'm sorry, I didn't get that part of the citation where "no funds exchange hands" is part of "rolling your own."  Can you refer to it for me, please?


Err, Jack was dirt-poor during most (if not all) of the time between Brokeback and the Reunion:  no money to fix the truck, almost starved, had to borrow everything except a toothbrush.  Obviously, it's not explicitly stated that he lacked the money to pay for sex during this time, but it seems much more likely than the alternative.

Cheers,

Dagonet
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Ministering angel on June 10, 2008, 06:59:27 PM
   Actually, Mini , it does, unless you think Mexican hustlers do it for love, or that the money he found ways to spend on his trips was spent on whiskey and postcards... ;D

Back up and return to the beginning with this. You originally said:  Just a quick observation - in the short story, every time we're told specifically that Jack has sex away from Ennis, he pays for it.

Now, in a metaphorical sense, he probably does, one way or another, but I thought that you were speaking literally here (and I still do), that you were saying that apart from with Ennis, Jack pays over cold hard cash every time he has sex. Or more precisely, that whenever we are told about him having sex we are also told specifically that he pays for it.

So what exactly are we told:-

prior to Brokeback, there's a vague possibility Jack had some experience, possibly the previous year, but nothing is stated plainly, either about sex or money.

Brokeback, Ennis, sex, no  money.

In the four years, he had been riding more than bulls, a statement generally thought to refer to m/m sexual activity since it follows Ennis's question about doing it with other men. Where is the money mentioned? As Dagonet points out, he was starving poor for a lot of this time. Perhaps we should go back to the conversation on the mountain when Ennis said he couldn't see the point of riding a piece of stock for eight seconds and Jack said that money was a good point - this might imply that the money flow was in the other direction  ;) Just a suggestion.

He gets married during this time and becomes a father - I see no reason to speculate about the child's paternity. The stuff in the back seat of the car is only in the film, and if you were using it to hang a theory about the son's paternity on, I doubt it would support much weight. Does he pay Lureen for sex? I think not.

Later, he has some money and finds ways of spending it when on business trips. We are told specifically he spends money, but not specifically what he spends it on.

He confesses to having gone to Mexico. Once again, nothing specific.

Lureen tells Ennis that Jack kept his friends' addresses in his head. Nothing specific.

He tells Ennis about the ranch neighbour's wife, and later his father tells Ennis about the ranch neighbour. We can assume they are the same person, but nothing specific about sex or money is said.


So what conclusion do I reach? I think that Jack had m/m sex (and maybe m/f sex as well) for free in the period between Brokeback and the reunion.
I think he had an unremarkable sex life with Lureen, at least for a while.
I suspect he may have been faithful unto Ennis (and Lureen) up until Ennis's divorce, when he saw the lay of the land more clearly.
I'm certain he paid for some sex after that. The references to Mexico and money spent on business trips is about as broad a statement as AP is likely to make.
I think the friends whose identities he protected included some sexual partners but I have no reason to assume they were paid by Jack.
I assume he had a sexual relationship with the ranch neighbour and I'm certain no money changed hands.


I think the pattern we are shown after the divorce is of a man who tries to do the right thing by the man he loves but who needs more than he gets, so he begins with anonymous paid-for sex and slowly works his way around to a semi-serious relationship. I assume this is the pattern because this is the order in which it is revealed to us.


So to go back to your original statement,  Just a quick observation - in the short story, every time we're told specifically that Jack has sex away from Ennis, he pays for it - I can't see where you find the grounds for saying this. We are not told specifically that he has sex, and we are not told specifically what he spends his money on.  Of course we can put 2 & 2 together but it still doesn't add up to Jack always paying for sex, which was your original contention.

Whew!
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on June 10, 2008, 07:59:17 PM
Not quite:  at the Reunion, Jack "had been riding more than bulls, not rolling his own."  While there's some uncertainty as to whether these partners were men or women, (presumably) no payment was involved. 

   I'm sorry, I didn't get that part of the citation where "no funds exchange hands" is part of "rolling your own."  Can you refer to it for me, please?


Err, Jack was dirt-poor during most (if not all) of the time between Brokeback and the Reunion:  no money to fix the truck, almost starved, had to borrow everything except a toothbrush.  Obviously, it's not explicitly stated that he lacked the money to pay for sex during this time, but it seems much more likely than the alternative.

Cheers,

Dagonet
-I have to agree. In fact, its entirely possible he did his own hustling here and there; I  don't think Jack was above that, to survive, and to escape lonliness. He was simply not cut out to be by himself. It destroyed him in the end, just being without his one true love, as they say. Ennis could survive alone, with fantasies of Jack. Jack could not do the same. He needed the person there, the human touch.

 And I would not be suprised if he exchanged favors for belongings, poor as he was, he 'fuckin starved', during the time in between Ennis and Lureen. The twilight zone, I'm sure.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Ministering angel on June 10, 2008, 08:49:25 PM
That's where the comment about riding stock comes into play, perhaps. Money's a good point.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: fofol on June 11, 2008, 07:55:20 AM

Marion and Dagonet:  Thank you, very much for your helpful commentary.  Much appreciated, Mike.

   Jo - Jack a hustler?  Yikes, I thought I went far afield on occasion!   8)
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on June 11, 2008, 08:06:44 AM

Marion and Dagonet:  Thank you, very much for your helpful commentary.  Much appreciated, Mike.

   Jo - Jack a hustler?  Yikes, I thought I went far afield on occasion!   8)
Don't go too far afield on this one, Mike  ;) I just was just speculating. My point is it is doubtul he had a pot to pee in, let alone spend money. If anything, he was surviving on his wits, and it does not sound like it was a healthy situation for him.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Dagonet on June 11, 2008, 10:22:36 AM
-I have to agree. In fact, its entirely possible he did his own hustling here and there; I  don't think Jack was above that, to survive, and to escape lonliness.

<blink>  Now there's an interesting idea.  The thing is, though. . . would it even have occurred to Jack that people would pay to have sex with him?  Pre-Ennis, would he have believed himself "worth it"? 


He was simply not cut out to be by himself. It destroyed him in the end, just being without his one true love, as they say.

It destroyed both of them, I'd say.  It's just more obvious with Jack because his whole mental/emotional direction is outward:  he says what he thinks, shows what he feels, takes action to supply the human touch that's missing in his life, etc.  With Ennis (of whom there's not much left by the end of the story either), the damage (to himself, as opposed to his life) is almost completely internal. 


And I would not be suprised if he exchanged favors for belongings, poor as he was, he 'fuckin starved', during the time in between Ennis and Lureen. The twilight zone, I'm sure.

Or else "fuckin' starved" is a metaphor for the utter lack of the emotional contact Jack so desperately wanted; that there were no other men between Brokeback and the Reunion, and that even Lureen was a poor substitude at best.


Cheers,

Dagonet
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: fofol on June 11, 2008, 10:46:32 AM
Jo - When I first saw the film, I was stunned - like being hit in the head with an axehandle.  There was nothing healthy about either of these guys' lives, yet I knew both of them, either from my own life or through observation, having worked my way through school in Oregon as a bartender in a gay bar.  The possibility exists certainly for JG's potential as a hustler, but I see far more of a chance of him making money legitimately than not - although this raises the question, which is more difficult riding bulls or riding men...?   ::)
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Ellen (tellyouwhat) on June 11, 2008, 12:07:03 PM
8 seconds per man is easier to achieve.  ;)

******

Jack a hustler?  nah, I don't think so.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Ministering angel on June 11, 2008, 06:13:50 PM
-I have to agree. In fact, its entirely possible he did his own hustling here and there; I  don't think Jack was above that, to survive, and to escape lonliness.

<blink>  Now there's an interesting idea.  The thing is, though. . . would it even have occurred to Jack that people would pay to have sex with him?  Pre-Ennis, would he have believed himself "worth it"? 


Does your average cheap prostitute, male or female, feel they are "worth it"? I doubt it somehow. Most at that level don't have a great self-image.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on June 11, 2008, 07:15:52 PM
Jo - When I first saw the film, I was stunned - like being hit in the head with an axehandle.  There was nothing healthy about either of these guys' lives, yet I knew both of them, either from my own life or through observation, having worked my way through school in Oregon as a bartender in a gay bar.  The possibility exists certainly for JG's potential as a hustler, but I see far more of a chance of him making money legitimately than not - although this raises the question, which is more difficult riding bulls or riding men...?   ::)
I suppose some might be willing to see the metaphor mentioned somewhere above, that 'riding bulls' means the same-and he got paid for that. When he won, of course. Which is why he was starving in the literal sense.-Semi-competent, and all that.
I really don't think of him as of an inclination to sell himself-? I was just not inclined to think he paid for sex at that point; Later we are told he now had money and found ways to spend it. I'm guessing it started  much later, IMO. And he may indeed have been still a little green at that time...
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on June 11, 2008, 07:18:25 PM
8 seconds per man is easier to achieve.  ;)

******

Jack a hustler?  nah, I don't think so.
Ennis never saw the point in though, of course.... ;D

Jack the Hustler. It doesn't really trip off the tongue, does it?  ;)
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on June 11, 2008, 07:20:12 PM

Quote
Or else "fuckin' starved" is a metaphor for the utter lack of the emotional contact Jack so desperately wanted; that there were no other men between Brokeback and the Reunion, and that even Lureen was a poor substitude at best.

Dagonet, I'm not one to dispute a good metaphor-he sure was starved, in lots of ways.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: royandronnie on June 11, 2008, 09:46:46 PM
I think we need to remember the times, too. The idea of Jack as hustler is provocative, but I don't think so either. I am certain in my own mind that the "riding more than bulls" refers to Jack lying about having had sex with other men. He does talk about borrowing everything but a toothbrush, and I wonder if some of his encounters might have started with his, ah, bumming a spur or sparkplug or something, and getting a vibe. Which would more amount to him paying for it than the reverse. I just see the idea being one he simply wouldn't have come up with, in those years.

Although it does give new meaning to "got out while I could still walk…" --Nah. Jack was starving, yes, for emotional contact, and that he did not find. But I think some of those lonely, horny, gay-or-not guys who couldn't afford prostitutes and couldn't get "good" girls were quite happy to do things with him just for sex.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: fofol on June 12, 2008, 05:51:37 AM
-I have to agree. In fact, its entirely possible he did his own hustling here and there; I  don't think Jack was above that, to survive, and to escape lonliness.

<blink>  Now there's an interesting idea.  The thing is, though. . . would it even have occurred to Jack that people would pay to have sex with him?  Pre-Ennis, would he have believed himself "worth it"? 


Does your average cheap prostitute, male or female, feel they are "worth it"? I doubt it somehow. Most at that level don't have a great self-image.


    Is it possible that in this instance "worth it" might refer to Jack's notion of whether or not paying customers would consider him worth paying for?  We're not talking Mr. Gyllenhall, obviously, but the Jack of the story.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: fofol on June 12, 2008, 06:06:37 AM
8 seconds per man is easier to achieve.  ;)

******

Jack a hustler?  nah, I don't think so.

  Easier but no fun at all, and far less of an adventure...   roflmao
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: jwm on June 12, 2008, 11:59:17 AM
Hi I have thought a lot about this story and I think that the whole relationship this amazing love story all branches out from their need for each other. Not just the sex, I think that was a bonus like I have said before, it is this over powering need they have for each others company. The freedom to talk about everything and nothing, or not at all. To sit around and drink with the one person that means more to you than life itself.
Jack goes with other men not so much for the sex, but with another man he can pretend that he is laying with Ennis, he can put an imaginary bag over the guys head and envision his lover.
The sex could be a grand and as real as he wanted it to be, he lived in his own fantasy world most of life. He could have the life he always wanted in his mind, and this person laying beside him filled one need the vessel to get his relief when he missed and needed Ennis so badly. He could get all the loving, all the hugging, all the snuggling and all the face to face stuff he dreamed and yearned for, all with his eyes closed but that is about as close as he ever would get all that he prayed for.
Ennis loved and wanted to be with Jack the one he loved. The one he could be himself with without judgement and a lot of forthought. He enjoyed the sex, sure enough but it was Jack himself that made Ennis do what he did, change his life, put everything he had in jeopardy just to spend some down time with Jack. He needed to rejuvenate and get his will to carry on with the life he was living. Jack was the only one that could do that for him and without Jack in his life there would be no Ennis. Sure he would have gone through life, but he now knows what happiness is and he needed it.
 
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: royandronnie on June 12, 2008, 09:11:50 PM
Jack goes with other men not so much for the sex, but with another man he can pretend that he is laying with Ennis, he can put an imaginary bag over the guys head and envision his lover.
The sex could be a grand and as real as he wanted it to be, he lived in his own fantasy world most of life. He could have the life he always wanted in his mind, and this person laying beside him filled one need the vessel to get his relief when he missed and needed Ennis so badly. He could get all the loving, all the hugging, all the snuggling and all the face to face stuff he dreamed and yearned for, all with his eyes closed but that is about as close as he ever would get all that he prayed for.



An interesting idea. I would tend to think that in the rodeo years that any sex he got would have been much like his BB sex--quick and unsubtle. Between the guys who "weren't queer" and the ones more like him, I would think they'd have gotten it over with as quick as possible to avoid getting caught or being suspected. But I think you can take it as read that he imagined Ennis every time. I don't know how much kissing, etc, he would have gotten, but yeah, he'd have done the best he could.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Ministering angel on June 12, 2008, 10:00:21 PM
I'm inclined to agree with you, R&R. The real huggin-an-kissin stuff might have been with Lureen, however not to Jack's taste that may have been, in much the same way that Alma showed Ennis a few things about sex that he didn't know (or preferred not to know) on the mountain. I think this is where the reunion is so magical - it's the flowering of their sexual relationship (but not, alas, their emotional relationship) after its rough and unsubtle beginnings, plus the recognition that the "thing" is for keeps, not just some summer pastime.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: jwm on June 13, 2008, 06:52:47 AM
I was thinking more along the times when he paid for it. I don't know how often that happened but if he paid he could do what ever he wanted to do. The time he went to Mexico after the divorce scene, he walked past a few guys, and went right to the tallest guy, the most fair skinned. So what he could have got for a few pesos if anyones guess.

 Also there was his time with Randal. I can't see it being the same as what Jack and Ennis had. Randal was more than willing and the aggressor so Jack must of gotten more from him than just a quickie from behind. I don't know but I feel like Jack would have wanted more from him than what he was getting from Ennis, I mean in the foreplay, romance part of it. I am probably way off base here but that is what I think.

 Jack needed a lot more than just a quickie and that is why he stayed with Randal and had mentioned him to his old man. He gave Jack more of what he desired and maybe someday he could learn to see him as Randal and not extended version of Ennis. He could only hope.

 He had many friends and probably a lot that were just wham bam thankyou man, but Jack had so much pent up passion and needs for the softer side of things he would close his eyes and let his mind take over.

jwm
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on June 13, 2008, 08:31:15 AM
I guess he could request that a whore do certain things, a la the hugging and kissing. But again, it depends on how Jack himself felt about that...He himself was a rather rugged character. I think what would have meant more to him would be some sign from Ennis that the DE was a representation of a permanent feeling, something that was not an impulsive, transitory gesture from 20 years before, and tied to the 'charmed' time on the mountain..., ie, the illusion of being young, free and private. I think that is what so devasting to him at the end, that he may have built, in his "fantasy" life, an image of Ennis that Ennis was incapable of living up to. I think the simple idea of having any kind of sex with someone he thought cared for him was enough for Jack Twist. Both men were raised with extremely low expectations of life. Jack just had more hope, and that allowed him to perhaps dream bigger. But he is still a tough ranch-grown kid. Not sure how much tenderness he was after, as a regular component of his thing with Ennis. I think had they evolved more, Jack would have discovered that in himself. Keep in mind, the DE was 'sexless'. It was not about lovemaking per se. 
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: fofol on June 13, 2008, 10:10:13 AM
  Do we think that Jack's somewhat stunted version of the DE was something he would want to keep or return to?  All while he's saying that this artless, charming and goalless moment was flawless, that nothing marred it, in the next breath he tells us precisely what marred it, what kept it from being perfect.  Whether he's able to see this ambivalence or not, do you think it's possible that Jack saw himself as being able to tolerate that kind of relationship?  He can't, obviously, because he doesn't take kindly to not living with Ennis.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: jwm on June 13, 2008, 10:24:01 AM
The Jack that I see is someone that is sure a rough tough type of guy, but he wants intimacy, openness, freedom to do what he wants when he wants and mostly with whom he wants. Ennis never gave him that and he knows that he never would. I think that because Jack was deprived of a lot of tender loving care growing up he craves it in his adult life. Why wouldn't he?
The DE was nice something that he will never forget and never again feel but that doesn't mean he never wanted the closeness. The part of him that was always insecure always looking for that special love which he had found in Ennis, which always deprived him of that one thing, the ability to show and be showed what it could be like always,

jwm
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on June 13, 2008, 10:26:36 PM
  Do we think that Jack's somewhat stunted version of the DE was something he would want to keep or return to?  All while he's saying that this artless, charming and goalless moment was flawless, that nothing marred it, in the next breath he tells us precisely what marred it, what kept it from being perfect.  Whether he's able to see this ambivalence or not, do you think it's possible that Jack saw himself as being able to tolerate that kind of relationship?  He can't, obviously, because he doesn't take kindly to not living with Ennis.
Hmm, now those are some interesting questions, Mike...time to think.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on June 13, 2008, 10:32:08 PM
Wendy, I tend to differentiate between what Jack may want and what he thinks he may want. Hence the idea of discovering in himself, over time, what he cannot help but crave.  And he does not understand it' he only knows how he feels. I think heavy, ongoing time with Ennis would enlighten him. That's part of the problem. Neither man can flourish, discover themselves, without the other. It is why they fail, ultimately, as human beings. One cannot tolerate what is missing; the other is too fearful to face what is missing. For both it is the same answer: The Other.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: royandronnie on June 14, 2008, 06:46:23 PM
  Do we think that Jack's somewhat stunted version of the DE was something he would want to keep or return to?  All while he's saying that this artless, charming and goalless moment was flawless, that nothing marred it, in the next breath he tells us precisely what marred it, what kept it from being perfect.  Whether he's able to see this ambivalence or not, do you think it's possible that Jack saw himself as being able to tolerate that kind of relationship?  He can't, obviously, because he doesn't take kindly to not living with Ennis.

I would think that Jack saw the imperfections of the DE as something that could be overcome. He's not lying when he recalls it as perfect. It was, then. It was, I believe, only later that he came to realize that Ennis wouldn't embrace him face to face. He had nothing to compare it to at the time, remember, and for sure he was in such a haze of happiness, sexual activity/afterglow, sleep deprivation and booze the whole time that he had little opportunity for reflection. But then came casual encounters with other men, sex probably a lot like it was with Ennis, but maybe a couple of them didn't hurry it up or avoid looking at him. And then the Reunion, where their sexual behavior underwent big changes, so at least we presume. Certainly there was a huge f2f embrace. So then Jack can go, "He never hugged me f2f on BB," "never cuddled," "never let me do him," whatever your own personal view is, and from that moment, as the DE fails to be surpassed, its perfection is under fire.

Also, though it is emphasized that Jack doesn't even know why he hangs onto this memory, that's only intellectually. Emotionally, he knows--this much at least: it made him perfectly happy, happy in a way he never would be again. I don't think Jack saw it as tolerating a hamstrung relationship. He saw it as something that would progress until it could be like this, always. And then came the divorce, and he was left not working toward a goal, but dreaming of something he could never get back. And then the fact that it had been limited in some ways began to loom larger. I still think he does remember it as perfect. But something that was yours and perfect and is then taken away and can't be gotten back is both perfect and horrible.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on June 14, 2008, 07:46:41 PM
Wow, we seem to be making real progress on getting down to the nitty gritty with the DE. Nice post, Charlotte., kudos. I liked Those were good questions from Mike. Still don't know exactly how I would answer them, myself.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: fofol on June 19, 2008, 05:55:34 AM
  Do we think that Jack's somewhat stunted version of the DE was something he would want to keep or return to?  All while he's saying that this artless, charming and goalless moment was flawless, that nothing marred it, in the next breath he tells us precisely what marred it, what kept it from being perfect.  Whether he's able to see this ambivalence or not, do you think it's possible that Jack saw himself as being able to tolerate that kind of relationship?  He can't, obviously, because he doesn't take kindly to not living with Ennis.

I would think that Jack saw the imperfections of the DE as something that could be overcome. He's not lying when he recalls it as perfect. It was, then. It was, I believe, only later that he came to realize that Ennis wouldn't embrace him face to face. He had nothing to compare it to at the time, remember, and for sure he was in such a haze of happiness, sexual activity/afterglow, sleep deprivation and booze the whole time that he had little opportunity for reflection. But then came casual encounters with other men, sex probably a lot like it was with Ennis, but maybe a couple of them didn't hurry it up or avoid looking at him. And then the Reunion, where their sexual behavior underwent big changes, so at least we presume. Certainly there was a huge f2f embrace. So then Jack can go, "He never hugged me f2f on BB," "never cuddled," "never let me do him," whatever your own personal view is, and from that moment, as the DE fails to be surpassed, its perfection is under fire.

Also, though it is emphasized that Jack doesn't even know why he hangs onto this memory, that's only intellectually. Emotionally, he knows--this much at least: it made him perfectly happy, happy in a way he never would be again. I don't think Jack saw it as tolerating a hamstrung relationship. He saw it as something that would progress until it could be like this, always. And then came the divorce, and he was left not working toward a goal, but dreaming of something he could never get back. And then the fact that it had been limited in some ways began to loom larger. I still think he does remember it as perfect. But something that was yours and perfect and is then taken away and can't be gotten back is both perfect and horrible.

   Quite right, RnR - it would be impossible for Jack to lie about the DE.  His honest impression is that it was flawless, so I think it's possible that "not face-to-face" is his curve in the road, that important element he misses that is life-altering - imagine for a moment that he saw that his impression was flawed, that his lack of faith in himself (that he was worthy) was what kept him from seeing beyond his reaction, seeing instead what Ennis meant by the embrace.  There could be many outcomes, all of which would be predicated on this knowledge he lacks, that their positions for the embrace were far less important than the fact of it, that Ennis D. M. came to him, of his own accord and held him like a lover would, with a tenderness that lasted until the fire burned down to coals, and didn't end until Ennis felt obligated to return to work and Jack had to go to bed to stay warm. 
   Of, course, from Ennis's pov, the DE was a rousing success, not repeated probably due to a less than enthusiastic response from Jack, who's apparently too busy licking his wounds in private to realize what a truly miraculous occurence the DE was - Ennis loving a man.  Did either of them see it that way?  Certainly not Jack, and probably not Ennis, but a rose is a rose is a rose, n'est-ce pas?
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on June 19, 2008, 08:20:21 AM
Quote
Of, course, from Ennis's pov, the DE was a rousing success, not repeated probably due to a less than enthusiastic response from Jack,

A long post, after some thought:

Not certain I'm following the bolded part, Mike. Can you enlarge on it? Jack melted into Ennis's arms, and holds that moment as sacred for the rest of his life-right?.

IMO, I think Ennis is the one with a problem over it: He gives the shake and push, once Jack goes into the not- quite -slumber, feeling, something he's never felt before, certainly not from his father or anyone else, far as we know. Unconditional acceptance. If it was any less, he would not be able to trust Ennis enough to just lean back and hand his will over, like that.  What man would, in a homophobic world? Jack, too, grew up in the same century, under the same social taboos.

One key is, did Ennis realize that his acceptance of Jack meant love?

Jack  believed in the power of love, at that moment.  He is not as seduced by the idea of things being 'charmed', although it appears he realizes Ennis is under a spell of sorts-'artless, charmed happiness'. There had to be a bit of an illusion for it to occur, I think. It seems to me, Ennis is caught up in the 'imagined power of Brokeback Mountain.' That is how he explains his feelings to himself, via the author, we find out much later.... In the film, when Jack says, 'Brokeback got us good, don't it?" in the motel, Ennis caresses his arm, and is clearly moved. To Ennis, they are in agreement at that moment, even though we know later, Jack knew he loved Ennis. I fear to think what Ennis would've done, had Jack said, 'Love got us good, don't it?' and he wouldn't say that, not with Ennis telling him he didn't want to be one of them guys you see around sometimes, in the SS....he knows his low-startle point horse.

Then, in the DE, we have the shake and push, as Ennis comes back to reality. To me, he is regretting his "slip", and he is putting a stop to the intimacy, that by rights should have lead them to a tent....It is a pretty brusque ending for such a moment, do you agree? .I am sure Jack would've been just fine with it ending in the tent-he was fine with Ennis spending that night (s) in August. That is where the August night(s) becomes intriguing; I think the DE led to it. If the damn sheep had not got mixed, Ennis may not have felt punished, and things may have progressed better, and we may never have had the punch in the Columbine meadow.

But at the moment of the DE, Ennis is in two minds, from what I can see.
 
(The one big problem with exploring the DE, is there is a critical component we can't talk about, without drawing heated debate, so it makes it impossible to get to the deepest heart of the matter. But I'm always happy to explore it in PM's.)


I think Ennis didn't particularly think this one through-he just responded,  and it he thought of it later, he may have thought of it in terms of things being 'mixed'. Its the only impression we get from him on BBM, besides his violent outburst, with the punch, once he spends the night in August-perhaps another indicator of how he felt about the DE, underneath?- and the sheep go wandering off. We never get another impression, about the DE, until the shirts-and that is a suggested response, and  is prompted by his sudden connection to Jack's feelings for him. He realizes they were  in love, that Jack was the one-IMO. So there is a change in Ennis at that moment. It boggles my mind to think he could realize how much Jack meant to him once the baby is born, but not realize what that means about himself.

The DE becomes symbolic in the end, because we are not in Ennis's head to know if he even remembers that moment..I've always felt he understands what it lacked, at that shirt moment, despite Jack thinking it was perfect. Because he buries his face in the shirts. That is a response to a loved one. We don't bury our faces in just anyone's shirts, after they pass on. That is the act of a deeply stricken human being...

So I think I see it the opposite way: Ennis was the one who lacked the enthusiasm, while Jack was more than willing to get more DE's. And Ennis only realized what he truly wanted, after Jack's death.

Thoughts? Off to work, catch you later.


Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Rosewood on June 19, 2008, 01:10:21 PM
  Do we think that Jack's somewhat stunted version of the DE was something he would want to keep or return to?  All while he's saying that this artless, charming and goalless moment was flawless, that nothing marred it, in the next breath he tells us precisely what marred it, what kept it from being perfect.  Whether he's able to see this ambivalence or not, do you think it's possible that Jack saw himself as being able to tolerate that kind of relationship?  He can't, obviously, because he doesn't take kindly to not living with Ennis.

I would think that Jack saw the imperfections of the DE as something that could be overcome. He's not lying when he recalls it as perfect. It was, then. It was, I believe, only later that he came to realize that Ennis wouldn't embrace him face to face. He had nothing to compare it to at the time, remember, and for sure he was in such a haze of happiness, sexual activity/afterglow, sleep deprivation and booze the whole time that he had little opportunity for reflection. But then came casual encounters with other men, sex probably a lot like it was with Ennis, but maybe a couple of them didn't hurry it up or avoid looking at him. And then the Reunion, where their sexual behavior underwent big changes, so at least we presume. Certainly there was a huge f2f embrace. So then Jack can go, "He never hugged me f2f on BB," "never cuddled," "never let me do him," whatever your own personal view is, and from that moment, as the DE fails to be surpassed, its perfection is under fire.

Also, though it is emphasized that Jack doesn't even know why he hangs onto this memory, that's only intellectually. Emotionally, he knows--this much at least: it made him perfectly happy, happy in a way he never would be again. I don't think Jack saw it as tolerating a hamstrung relationship. He saw it as something that would progress until it could be like this, always. And then came the divorce, and he was left not working toward a goal, but dreaming of something he could never get back. And then the fact that it had been limited in some ways began to loom larger. I still think he does remember it as perfect. But something that was yours and perfect and is then taken away and can't be gotten back is both perfect and horrible.

Excellent summation, r&r.
Though I would add that I never saw the DE as 'stunted' in any way - in Jack's memory or otherwise.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: jwm on June 20, 2008, 09:25:24 AM
The first time I seen the DE I thought wow. I watched it over and over again, and tried to figure out what it was really telling me or showing me. I kept coming back to the same thing, it was what it was. It was simple and natural. These two have just found this incredible new Thing, and they let their hearts and their bodies do what came natural. Ennis never thought he was doing something incredibly memorable, he just went over to this wondrous man that had just introduced his heart and his world to something so totally new he just did what he knew he wanted to do and that was comfort and touch his new lover.

 Jack didn't seem surprised, he just sank into Ennis's arms and savoured every bit of this tender loving moment. I don't believe that either of them thought anything of it at that time, and the little tap and shove, well I wouldn't exactly call it a shove but it was something that Jack would expect from Ennis, and with that little see you tonight just made it more intimate.

 When Jack remembered the DE at the end, he remembered a time when there was no outside world, there was no need, no desperation. He has never found that again, once the summer was over. They had so many problems, so many hurdles they had to jump everytime they wanted to meet. The time the DE occurred was the only thing on their minds was the sheep, the job. Jack knew that Ennis would ride back down to the camp and to him with nothing more on his mind than him, and that was something that neither of them could ever get back. He also I think that Jack had built up that feeling of the DE in his mind to keep him sane, to keep his love and need for Ennis alive when he was apart. It was getting harder and harder all the time for him and this one moment keep him coming back, with the slim chance that he wasn't alone in this, and that what he felt then was still alive and well for Ennis too.

 Jack knew this with every trip they took, it was getting harder for him to keep his blinders on and try to talk himself into believing that they could ever relive their first summer together, and that the DE was apart of that and what felt like a whole nother life time ago.  Ennis he stayed right where he felt the safest, the easiest and that was to keep himself and Jack back in 1963.

So Jack thought back to that DE when Ennis drove away and thought that pair of young innocent guys in love for that short time were dead. He had finally been forced to open his eyes to reality and let that time, that man go because he can't live his life any more, hanging on to something he knows will never happen, and  as the man he is  today.
Again this is movie only.

jwm
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Rosewood on June 20, 2008, 02:06:19 PM


 

.....Ennis he stayed right where he felt the safest, the easiest and that was to keep himself and Jack back in 1963.

So Jack thought back to that DE when Ennis drove away and thought that pair of young innocent guys in love for that short time were dead. He had finally been forced to open his eyes to reality and let that time, that man go because he can't live his life any more, hanging on to something he knows will never happen, and  as the man he is  today.
Again this is movie only.

jwm

I hope you don't mind, Wendy, that I sliced and diced your post down to bare minimum for my purposes. ;)
Primarily because I think that line about Ennis is so damned profound.
Yes, absolutely, Ennis is all about FEELING safe.
Something in him craves safety above all things.

And yet, here's the contradiction:
He MUST feel safe and yet he continues to go to Jack, prolonging a relationship that makes him feel
UNSAFE. This, to me, is the PROOF of Ennis's love.
I've always wondered, too, if Ennis ASSUMES that Jack ought to be satisfied with this BECAUSE it is
obviously the ESSENCE of Ennis. An essence he shares only with one person in the whole world.
In a way, this is Ennis emotionally LAYING HIMSELF BARE to Jack.
"I dread what can happen, but I can't NOT be with you."

Do we think Jack did NOT pick up on this?
Or do we think that Jack NOT knowing this in the beginning, figures it out later?
And if so, did this, eventually become NOT ENOUGH?
Is this why Jack could excuse Ennis's behavior over the years?
Because he knew that Ennis would give up WHAT HE COULD, ALL that he could, just to be with him?
Even if only for two or three weeks out of the year.
It was Ennis giving up his fears. Holding them at bay for as long as he could.
Sacrifice. (Though I doubt Jack ever saw it as such. After all, it was NO sacrifice for Jack to drive all
that way to Wyoming every year, eager to see and be with Ennis.) But still, Jack MUST have had
some idea how Ennis's fears 'worked' on him.

Honestly, I'm still figuring this out. I'd like to think that Jack DID know what it cost Ennis.
But it is entirely possible that he merely had an inkling. An 'inkling' isn't enough.

However:
I don't think that Jack ever thought that what they had was 'dead' as you say, Wendy.
I think he NEVER wanted to get to that place.
And yet, in the film, JG as Jack's obvious exasperation with HL's Ennis, is there for us to see.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: royandronnie on June 20, 2008, 06:16:29 PM
Jack didn't seem surprised, he just sank into Ennis's arms and savoured every bit of this tender loving moment. I don't believe that either of them thought anything of it at that time, and the little tap and shove, well I wouldn't exactly call it a shove but it was something that Jack would expect from Ennis, and with that little see you tonight just made it more intimate.

You know, putting it that way makes it kind of like the line in the story "Ennis, not big on endearments, called Jack what he called his horses and children, 'little darlin.'" In other words, rather than being a rejection, and redrawing of lines, Ennis indicates Jack is one of those few beings he loves and trusts. Though certainly as written in the story there is a sense of Ennis waking up again.

Quote
When Jack remembered the DE at the end, he remembered a time when there was no outside world, there was no need, no desperation. He has never found that again, once the summer was over.  Jack knew that Ennis would ride back down to the camp and to him with nothing more on his mind than him, and that was something that neither of them could ever get back.

We always contrast Ennis, holding onto the past, with Jack, trying to get somewhere else. But this interpretation, which has a lot going for it, also shows Jack as trying to hold onto the past. It's another nice shading.

Quote
Ennis he stayed right where he felt the safest, the easiest and that was to keep himself and Jack back in 1963.
This has been said before, but it was nicely said here.

Quote
So Jack thought back to that DE when Ennis drove away and thought that pair of young innocent guys in love for that short time were dead.

Rosewood says this is overstating. I'm not sure, at that moment in time. There is anger, despair, resignation in Jack's face, and "let be, let be" certainly suggests a turning away. But I always remember that even though he went to LF and talked about another fella, the shirts were still in the closet, and not in the trash, when he left. I do think Jack was as low then as after the divorce, when Ennis drove away. But AP says they torqued things back almost to where they were. That's good enough for me.

Really nice thinking, jwm, and heartfelt as always.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on June 20, 2008, 06:55:51 PM
Really terrific posts, girls. I love talking about the DE, too. Its true, Wendy, you have a way of pinpointing emotion without getting over-analytical. We need that here!  :)
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Ministering angel on June 20, 2008, 07:18:32 PM
In answer to a question, Jake once said that Jack died when Ennis drove away. That's surely how he plays it. After that (although we don't see him in the film) Jack is just going through the motions. The statement to his father sounds to me like someone who's just talking to fill the silence, to keep some sort of front up. And as for ditching the shirts, that's a positive act in a way, saying "Time to move on". I don't think he was capable of such an act. To me, the shirts are rendered meaningless to Jack once he sees how Ennis responds to the truth. The only meaning for Jack is what Ennis may one day glean from them if he should ever find them. He leaves them almost as a suicide note - "I love you but I can't go on."
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: garyd on June 20, 2008, 07:58:13 PM
In answer to a question, Jake once said that Jack died when Ennis drove away. That's surely how he plays it.
“My dear boy, why don't you try acting? (on the set of 'Marathon Man', to Dustin Hoffman, who had announced that he'd gone 3 days without sleep in order to 'become' his character”
Laurence Olivier

actors employ various "techniques" to deliver a performance.  ...they are not necessarily dramaturges
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on June 20, 2008, 10:00:32 PM
In answer to a question, Jake once said that Jack died when Ennis drove away. That's surely how he plays it. After that (although we don't see him in the film) Jack is just going through the motions. The statement to his father sounds to me like someone who's just talking to fill the silence, to keep some sort of front up. And as for ditching the shirts, that's a positive act in a way, saying "Time to move on". I don't think he was capable of such an act. To me, the shirts are rendered meaningless to Jack once he sees how Ennis responds to the truth. The only meaning for Jack is what Ennis may one day glean from them if he should ever find them. He leaves them almost as a suicide note - "I love you but I can't go on."
I was thinking about the shirts the other day, ie, what the real purpose was of them hanging up there at LF.

To me, it was the next best thing to having Ennis there. It shows that Jack thought of LF as the future place from day one. I think this is true: If he could bring Ennis home, show his father another man adored him, it might alter, in his mind, how his father viewed him. He might finally get it right. Its not true, of course. Jack made the mistake of thinking his father's mistreatment was about Jack-it was about the father.

I do wonder how important the shirts were, to Jack, once he realized Ennis was not going to come through for him-or thought he never would.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: undecid on June 20, 2008, 10:29:52 PM
from a non-poster, sometimes-lurker...
could Annie Proulx in her most imaginative mind have ever imagined the detail in which her words and , more the film, would be so lovingly analyzed/imagined/thought about for so long?
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on June 21, 2008, 12:08:59 AM
Greetings, Undecid.....I wonder, too! :D
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Ministering angel on June 21, 2008, 06:07:55 AM
In answer to a question, Jake once said that Jack died when Ennis drove away. That's surely how he plays it.
“My dear boy, why don't you try acting? (on the set of 'Marathon Man', to Dustin Hoffman, who had announced that he'd gone 3 days without sleep in order to 'become' his character”
Laurence Olivier

actors employ various "techniques" to deliver a performance.  ...they are not necessarily dramaturges

What's your point? Of course he was acting. He's not dead, is he.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: royandronnie on June 21, 2008, 06:24:33 PM
After that (although we don't see him in the film) Jack is just going through the motions. The statement to his father sounds to me like someone who's just talking to fill the silence, to keep some sort of front up. And as for ditching the shirts, that's a positive act in a way, saying "Time to move on". I don't think he was capable of such an act. To me, the shirts are rendered meaningless to Jack once he sees how Ennis responds to the truth. The only meaning for Jack is what Ennis may one day glean from them if he should ever find them. He leaves them almost as a suicide note - "I love you but I can't go on."

This is well-reasoned, but the problem I have with it is that in your view, the continuum between them is broken in their last scene together. I agree that Jack in a very real sense gave up, didn't really care if he lived or died, but if the shirts become meaningless, then Ennis finding them is also meaningless, because then there is no lesson for him to learn. We have posited many times in these pages that one of the main lessons of the shirts is graphic proof that Jack loved him on BB and never stopped--they are the cold comfort antidote to "other fella." I think it's important to remember also that Ennis now knows for a fact that Jack has been with other men--but though he has refused to change anything, he has refused to change anything. He didn't reject Jack utterly. Jack is very low, very low indeed, but they did "torque things back." I actually pretty much agree that Jack was sleepwalking through his final LF visit, but again, to render the shirts meaningless to Jack is to make them meaningless to Ennis to find--he embraces them because Jack loved him. It would be cold indeed if Jack no longer did--and I think you'd have to accept that if you believe that the shirts no longer had any meaning for him. I think that in embracing the shirts and taking them away, Ennis is supposed to be seen as growing, and accepting. It is certainly supposed to be a bitter lesson, but I think the continuum is restored when they pass from Jack to Ennis. I feel it's almost Jack reaching out to say that he never stopped loving Ennis.

We cannot, of course, know what would have happened if Jack had ever gotten that last card. But I think he would have come back.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Ministering angel on June 21, 2008, 07:31:52 PM
But the shirts are Jack's reconstruction of the DE, his aide de memoire, not that he needs one. The shirts are as much Jack's shrine as they become to Ennis. Yet he has not disturbed them for many years, symbolic of the way things haven't really moved on in all that time.

I agree that Jack would have come back in November but how long could he have kept returning? He knew now that the hope expressed in the DE, and by extension the shirts, was a vain hope. (NB. this is what he thinks, not what actually might have happened - IMO Jack misreads Ennis's collapse, seeing it as rejection of him rather than that Ennis can no longer support himself on his denials - how it might have turned out in November we will never know) Thus his original meaning for the shirts had been dashed.

Perhaps they are not meaningless to him but they symbolise something that can never be, rather than something he had hoped and yearned for all those years. In preserving the shirts, Jack inadvertently preserved the evidence that he and Ennis would not and could not ever be together, i.e. the evidence of the fight. (Yes, I know the blood is pre-fight but the two things - blood and fight - are intertwined, just as Ennis remembers them)

When I said they may have been meaningless to Jack, I was responding to the idea of him destroying them. I can't see him doing that because that would require either a sort of hysterical fit or a decision to move forward. Of course they still indicate how much he loves Ennis, and did love Ennis right from the start, and they continue to symbolise that to Ennis and Mrs T (however vaguely) and the readers. But does Jack still feel that positive thing? I wonder. Let be, let be. That's the DE and the shirts in that thought. Since the DE and the shirts go together, then Jack HAS to change his feelings about the shirts when he lets go of his hope in the DE.

So they are still meaningful when Ennis finds them because they have meaning to him which may be different to what they meant to Jack. He finally understands, through the shirts, that it wasn't the power of the mountain which caused things to happen, but the power of Jack's love and the love they forged between them, (Cue violins.) So the meaning remains for Ennis, even if Jack lost the hope they symbolised to him.

Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: jwm on June 23, 2008, 08:56:13 PM
The shirts were from another life time. They symbolized to Jack the best summer of his life, best time of his young life. He took that shirt of Ennis's because I believe deep down he honestly thought he wouldn't see this incredible man again that has changed his life forever.

 Jack had learned enough about this quiet, strange, man to feel like this was it. The shirt represented something that Jack never wanted to forget, a time when everything was golden, when he finally got what he wanted. He knew it wouldn't last, but he could look at those shirts, and in the beginning he could visualize Ennis in that shirt, smelling it when he help take it off. To him it was the only thing that was truly his, and no one could or would take it away from.

Over time I think that the shirts came out less and less. He left them there maybe as a reminder, or as a crutch. I should say he would take them out and that would give him the determination, and the courage to keep trying.
jwm
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on June 25, 2008, 07:27:34 PM
Insightful post, Marian.

Two points: The paradox of the blood on the shirts, as they entwine. Its kind of the inevitability of doom, right from the start. It was never easy, always some form of bloodshed, for both-'their separate and difficult lives'-and even Paradise had it's conditions, as we see in the SS.

The other is the idea of what the shirts now mean to Ennis.

I see it as I think you or Char said, as a continuum, but its also part of that Moebius strip: Ennis is sent back to the beginning, by the shirts, and he starts all over, living the relationship of Jack and him, without Jack of course, and the progress he makes over time, starting with the dreams, is like the progress of the relationship-until he gets to where he should have been some years before. He comes to internalize Jack, in the prologue, as part of himself. The idea of the wind, of his surroundings, imbued with Jack's memory on a day to day basis, is EXACTLY what a deep, LT relationship is like. The other individual is so much a part of one's day to day, that it they become, at times, a reason to get up and live, literally, when things are bad, for example. Ennis hangs on to Jack in this way-it gets him thru the day. I find that very haunting. It really was the only way left for Ennis to live with Jack, since he could not do it in life. And he HAD to have some kind of contact with him. I truly believe he may have gone much further downhill, without those shirts.

 They are his touchstone to his mistakes, and thus what would've been his hope of getting it right with Jack, had Jack lived.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on June 25, 2008, 07:38:59 PM

Just some musings here, feel free to pick apart:

Char, I'm thinking about your point regarding meaninglessness...I'm not sure, were Jack to see the shirts as such, and I don't think he did, even at the end, that this would alter the profound impact, even in a literary sense, on Ennis. They are still two different people, each with their own issues. Jack becoming jaded, or giving up, does not alter what Ennis feels for him, or does not alter his understanding and acknoweldgement of Jack's heartbreak. For hiim to know he was loved, whether he is now, or would be, were Jack alive, is what makes the difference. It disproves his theory that real men CANNOT love one another, and in  the same moment, reveals his own love for Jack to him. So I think the shirts are  a lightning strike moment, and I love the fact that AP has chosen the name Lightning Flat for the place Ennis gets hit, figuratively, by lightning. It alters the course of his life, forever, killing a part of him, and forcing him to use other parts of himself to recover, as the brain reroutes circuitry sometimes when people have brain injuries. I think this is the purpose of the dreams, to give him a path to follow to stay sane and alive.

Jack's death, the immense grief and loss and regret are one thing; to be forced to rewrite his history with Jack, with a completely new understanding of the man and thus of himself, is an enormous psychological and emotional journey. For he now knows what was really going on with Jack while he, Ennis,  hid in the shadows of his denial.

I doubt I'll ever get past the significance of never being shown any dreams about Jack before; To me it makes it clear, just how much those shirts impacted Ennis. He finally, finally allowed Jack 'in', past his defenses. He finally was willing to really love him, and allow himself to be loved.

But of course, too late for Jack.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Ministering angel on June 25, 2008, 11:12:04 PM
Great posts! You've got me thinking about Moebius strips again, plus the dreams. Yes, the first time around is kind of on the outside. It's external Ennis, enjoying the sex, never letting Jack inside, then the second time around it's internal Ennis, dreams, love, acknowledgment of real feelings, kicked off by those shirts. In a perfect world these two things should have happened simultaneously.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: en e me on June 26, 2008, 02:12:02 AM
Great summations of the meaning of the shirts for Ennis. Finding them is the defining moment of the story, a guaranteed place in movie classics.
In the introduction to the AP Lannen readings video clip the host Michael talks of life being about the mistakes one makes in it and the intense focus AP can bring to bear on the concept.
That framework fits the shirts scene.
This story is the mistakes Ennis and Jack made in life because there is inadequate understanding when each mistake is made.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: janjo on June 26, 2008, 04:00:21 AM
Indeed en-em-e, the whole story is about the mistakes one makes in life, how making the wrong decisions at crucial moments can utterly destroy that life, and how those wrong decisions are crucially based on not facing up to the real truth of the situation. Lying to oneself and to those that one loves is ultimately totally destructive.

I have also been giving some thoughts to Jake's comment regarding Jack dying the day Ennis drove away. It took me several months, to be honest, before I did in fact understand what he meant, but now I do understand it, and I can see that he is in fact correct.
That was the moment that Jack gave up, he no longer cared if he lived or died, he did not stop loving Ennis, something that is very relevant to the finding of the shirts, the shirts are a memento of an undying, unending love, but he did lose the will to live without him. Another reason, to me, why the remark about the ranch neighbour is of no consequence. Even if he did exist, and Jack did take him up to Lightning Flat, Jack was emotionally dead, if he could not have Ennis, so the relationship had no real future.
That is why the finding of the shirts can never, could never be meaningless. They are a symbol of a love that is forever, even if they haven't been looked at for some time, they are there as an icon, a point of reference, for a love that will never be allowed to grow old.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Rosewood on June 26, 2008, 01:46:29 PM
Indeed en-em-e, the whole story is about the mistakes one makes in life, how making the wrong decisions at crucial moments can utterly destroy that life, and how those wrong decisions are crucially based on not facing up to the real truth of the situation. Lying to oneself and to those that one loves is ultimaely totally destructive.

I have also been giving some thoughts to Jake's comment regarding Jack dying the day Ennis drove away. It took me several months, to be honest, before I did in fact understand what he meant, but now I do understand it, and I can see that he is in fact correct.
That was the moment that Jack gave up, he no longer cared if he lived or died, he did not stop loving Ennis, something that is very relevant to the finding of the shirts, the shirts are a memento of an undying, unending love, but he did lose the will to live without him. Another reason, to me, why the remark about the ranch neighbour is of no consequence. Even if he did exist, and Jack did take him up to Lightning Flat, Jack was emotionally dead, if he could not have Ennis, so the relationship had no real future.
That is why the finding of the shirts can never, could never be meaningless. They are a symbol of a love that is forever, even if they haven't been looked at for some time, they are there as an icon, a point of reference, for a love that will never be allowed to grow old.

Exactly.
I've always maintained that Jack, uncaring of what happened next, went home to die.
By carelessness or by intent.
The point is: He just could not stand it anymore.

Ennis, on the other hand, is the sort of person who can't seem to put himself in another's shoes.
He can't seem to figure out, except perhaps, periperally, that it is Jack who is inconsolable.
It is Ennis, after all, who can rise from that collapse and drive away.
Leaving Jack silently bereft of hope.

For whatever reason, Ennis is ABLE to do that. He ABLE NOT to look back and turn that
truck around. He is ABLE to run away.

Now, either he is so damn sure of Jack that he fully EXPECTS that NO MATTER WHAT, Jack will show
up again in November OR, for that one moment, he's had enough.
He is fleeing the moment, fleeing for his life and his sanity.

In the film, the truck driving away is very much Ennis running off.

In the film, Ennis says he 'can't stand it anymore' but I believe, it is Jack who TRULY feels this
on a larger scale. Where Ennis MAY have meant 'it' to mean the drama of that one moment of conflict,
exasperation or confrontation, Jack takes 'it' to mean EVERYTHING.

Don't know if this makes any sense, but it's the only way I can describe it.
I always remember that Ennis HATES drama of any kind.


Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Dagonet on June 26, 2008, 03:33:18 PM
Exactly.
I've always maintained that Jack, uncaring of what happened next, went home to die.
By carelessness or by intent.
The point is: He just could not stand it anymore.

I'm not sure if I'm going to be able to marshal persuasive arguments on this one, but here goes. . .


For me, the idea of "death from utter despair" as an explanation for what happens to Jack just doesn't. . . fit.  It seems contrary to his character as it's shown to us:  trying to get into the control zone, full of ideas, always moving (or at least trying to move) towards something more and better than what he has and what he is.  Even the fact that things don't work out as he would have them doesn't make him stop trying.  I don't know if it's possible for his spirit to be crushed to the extent that he would simply and absolutely give up.  That sort of thing would actually seem to be more in character for Ennis.

On a, I guess it would be a more literary note, this concept also evokes one of the (IMHO) sillier concepts from 19th century Victorian fiction, where the character (usually a young girl) whose love is not returned falls down in an extended swoon and eventually expires from an excess of passion.  And I just don't see that here.   I think it diminishes the story for Jack to be slain by his own. . . I know I'm going to get yelled at, but I'm going to say "weakness." 

Given the care with which the story is divided into intervals of time (as well as the thread of magic realism running through AP's work), my take on Jack's death is this:  Twenty years.  Twenty years to get it right, to understand and resolve their issues, to become equal to the bond between them.  Twenty years before the doom which Ennis saw so clearly from the beginning catches up with them. 


Ennis, on the other hand, is the sort of person who can't seem to put himself in another's shoes.
He can't seem to figure out, except perhaps, periperally, that it is Jack who is inconsolable.

There was a fair amount of discussion earlier about how Jack and Ennis never really understood each other:  their expectations, what they each derived from their relationship, etc.  But I think a major part of their problem was that they both had the *illusion* of understanding.  During their time on Brokeback, it must have seemed to Jack and Ennis that they knew each other completely, that their needs and desires were perfectly matched.  And because they were separated after the summer (and then condemned to brief meetings only), there was never a chance for the illusion to mature into truth, for them to find out who they really were. 


Cheers,

Dagonet
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on June 26, 2008, 05:41:54 PM
^^^^^^^^^^ No yelling.. ;D


Good post, Dag.

I think we can indeed all choose to take different perspectives on this, too. The author, for example, left the Q/NQ question kind of open, on the surface, although at least a few of us believe the answer is in the story, ie, did he or didn't he?

The other big question is always, how did Jack really die? Your take presumes the tire iron, from your post-the ending Ennis dreaded. Mine presumes the ordinary tire rim, and if one chooses to be a bit spiritual, a freak accident removes Jack from his misery, more or less; and allows Ennis to at least advance to the point where he recognizes love for love. There is a purpose, in the midst of the prejudice and tragedy.

Actually, I find it reather realistic, not at all maudlin, for someone to not survive the death of a powerful illusion-or the loss of a great hope. We've all seen this phenomenon, I'm guessing...I see Ennis more the walking dead, and Jack the one who if he can't walk, dies. To me, it suits their characters as written. Ennis has learned to survive, as has Jack-but Jack maintained dreams-Ennis did not seem to. 'you aint got nothing, you don't need nothin.'-Ennis. Jack was always all about rising up, and getting struck down, as you point out;  beating against Heaven's wall, more or less.

One freedom the author can take, of course, is to couch reality in symbolic terms; Jack dies literally of a tire rim/iron, but symbolically his spirit dies. The relationship is never any longer what he once hoped-so the truth kills him. If you think in terms of what was branded upon him at age 3-you can see, with dread, how Ennis proved this theorem out for Jack, at age 40. Would someone really still have hope? Jack could neither get it right with his father, nor with Ennis, so AP implies. Where to go from there?? What is living at that point?

I don't see him as much as the eternal optimist, as a moth to the flame-eventually, he will get snuffed out.

Happy stuff, yes, I know.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: en e me on June 27, 2008, 02:25:44 AM

Going back over Jack's recall of his bullriding days I'm struck as to how like a metaphoric soliloquy from the grave it is but couched not in deep regret but rather the eternal optimism with a touch of lament our wyle coyote Jack always seems to come up with.
'They can't get no use out a me. (Neither Ennis, nor his father, nor Lureen, nor any human being or animal)
Got some crushed vertibrates ( My courage and fortitude is crushed)
And a stress fracture, the arm bone here, (the arm I reach out to you with)
you know how bullridin you're always leverin it off your thigh?-she gives a little ever time you do it. (stretching out to love makes the emotional crash damage that much more severe)
Even if you tape it good you break it a little goddamn bit at a time. ( there is inevitability in the failure that occured)
Tell you what, hurts like a bitch afterwards. (The emotional outreach is excruciatingly painful).
Had a busted leg (what held me up, my hope, was broken)
Busted in three places (my heart broken three times)
Come off the bull and it was a big bull with a lot a drop (Ennis was a big emotion to absorb with a huge downdraft)
He got rid a me in about three flat and he come after me and he was sure faster (three times he clobbered me and 'sudden and unexpected' dumped on me)
Lucky enough. (I'm beyond the pain)
Friend a mine got his oil checked with a horned dipstick and that was all she wrote. (I seem to be my only friend and I got dead, literally ripped open, with my romantic escapades and I can say no more)
Bunch of other things, fucking busted ribs, sprains and pains,torn ligaments.(besides all the other emotional damage)......
You got to have money(understanding) to rodeo(love) now.....
and I know enough about the game now so I see that I ain't never gona be on the bubble (I'm never going to succeed at loving in this life)
Other reasons. (unstated but room for inference here, like I still love Ennis too much to take him out with me, or I need to set him free)
I'm getting out while I can still walk (my spirit is moving beyond this hopeless situation, in utter contrast to the ashes being left on the grieving plain  )'

Maybe Jack just stated his exit status right here metaphorically. Just another tidbit to add to the fascinating discussion. Why did the author put it right here in the story? It sure contrasts with Ennis being all hung up with the concept of being queer. While Jack's just bared his soul Ennis is just hung up with pondering 'queer'. And viewing the passage as such it sure renders irrelevant from Jack's perspective, though not Ennis's the means of Jack's death. Sure sounds like Jack died emotionally at the final argument doesn't it?






Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: janjo on June 27, 2008, 06:04:19 AM
Of course we can all intepret the story in our own way, and in the light of our own experiences, and Jack being able to recover from a completely broken heart and being able to get up and rebuild his life is a perfectly reasonable deduction, given your explanation Dagonet. However, although I do see your point, I find Jack and his dreams very much as a factor of the bravado with which he is forced by his emotional circumstances to live his life.
Arrogance, bravado, call it what you will, can be a sign that a person is very confident, it can also be a sign of insecurity, a covering up of the hole that is at the centre of that persons psyche. In people like that, confidence, however much it is overlaid by positive experiences, can deflate like a balloon.
This is how I see Jack.
Maybe it is from personal experience.
I have always said I have a little of Jack Twist in me.
But, to me Jack can pick himself up from almost anything, except losing Ennis.
The only person who ever loved him, or thought that he was worth a damn.
 
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Dagonet on June 27, 2008, 12:32:29 PM
^^^^^^^^^^ No yelling.. ;D

<laugh>  Not yet.   ;)



The other big question is always, how did Jack really die? Your take presumes the tire iron, from your post-the ending Ennis dreaded. Mine presumes the ordinary tire rim, and if one chooses to be a bit spiritual, a freak accident removes Jack from his misery, more or less; and allows Ennis to at least advance to the point where he recognizes love for love. There is a purpose, in the midst of the prejudice and tragedy.


Actually, I personally incline more towards tire rim as opposed to tire iron, and I very much agree that that sort of death might well have come as a relief to poor Jack.   And of course Jack's death is the only thing which can dislodge Ennis from his point of entrapment between what he wants and what he fears.    Part of my personal take on the story/film is that Ennis' personal fears (i.e. tire iron) were. . . if not misplaced, then not fully accurate.  I think that just about everyone in their immediate circle knew about Ennis and Jack, and for them it simply wasn't that big a deal.  Which means, in grand-old Greek tradition, that the lifetime Ennis spent running away from what he feared only drew it right back to him, and all his efforts to protect himself (and Jack, because I do believe there is an element of that in his actions too) led him to the point where he *wasn't* there to turn Jack over on that lonely road. 



One freedom the author can take, of course, is to couch reality in symbolic terms; Jack dies literally of a tire rim/iron, but symbolically his spirit dies. The relationship is never any longer what he once hoped-so the truth kills him. If you think in terms of what was branded upon him at age 3-you can see, with dread, how Ennis proved this theorem out for Jack, at age 40. Would someone really still have hope? Jack could neither get it right with his father, nor with Ennis, so AP implies. Where to go from there?? What is living at that point?

<laugh>  And this is going to be one of those standoffs, because I don't think his spirit was (completely) crushed. At any point, really.   That line about Jack's father, "no way to get it right with him after that," is pivotal.  Because even though he concluded that fixing the relationship was impossible, he still came back to Lightning Flat, year after year, even when he had no compelling reason to do so.  I'm not sure if we can conclude from that that even when Jack gives up, he doesn't really give up, but maybe. . . 


janjo, I hadn't really considered Jack's bravado as a mask for insecurity.  I have to run right now, but I'll think about it (as well as whether it's a parallel to Ennis' mask of stoicism) and get back to the thread. . .


Cheers,

Dagonet

Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on June 27, 2008, 06:24:01 PM
Dag, I see Jack coming back time after time as him being 'caught in his own loop', a saying of Ennis's. I think it is a trap from which he saw Ennis as an escape-but does no more, once he realizes his unfullfilled dream of the DE is now 20 years old and shows no sign of coming true. IMo, imo.

Jess-yeah, I agree, Jack hides alot of insecurity behind bluster-its something Ennis seems to admire in him.


en e me-I'd sure love to walk thru your symbolic take on Jack's litany of woes in S and I, maybe this weekend, sometime?
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: janjo on June 28, 2008, 01:41:17 PM

Jess-yeah, I agree, Jack hides alot of insecurity behind bluster-its something Ennis seems to admire in him.


It takes one to know one!
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: royandronnie on June 28, 2008, 05:18:41 PM

I don't think his spirit was (completely) crushed. At any point, really.   That line about Jack's father, "no way to get it right with him after that," is pivotal.  Because even though he concluded that fixing the relationship was impossible, he still came back to Lightning Flat, year after year, even when he had no compelling reason to do so.  I'm not sure if we can conclude from that that even when Jack gives up, he doesn't really give up, but maybe. . . 


Hadn't thought of that… And we do often equate Ennis and the old man in here. I agree with you, that's pretty telling. No way to get it right, but the effort is still made.

Nice.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Ministering angel on June 28, 2008, 07:42:13 PM
That's one of the compelling No Quit arguments, that Jack never gave up on getting it right with his father. He changed his dream, however, and included the ranch neighbour in lieu of Ennis, but still, he was maintaining the effort with his old man. Would he have tried to adapt his Ennis dream? We'll never know.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on July 12, 2008, 05:33:10 PM
This is from the Jack Twist character thread:

I am especially interested in our newbies on thread, or recent joiners, who may not have pondered this.

In the SS, without considering the existence of SNIT, where do you see the Dozy embrace fitting in, time-wise? yes, the oldies have talked about it before, which is why I'd love to hear some new opinions, if anyone is feeling interested enough to offer some.

To clarify, the question is: When do you think the DE happened? Here are some ideas:
a) Prior to FNIT
b)Post-FNIt, pre- August night (s) in tent.
c)Post night in tent, pre-parting from BBM

and why?
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Sara B on July 14, 2008, 07:28:49 AM
Well, I've certainly been pondering, but haven't anything much to say - I really can't find any clues in the text and will be interested to hear what other newbies have to say, and what the rest of you have suggested. 

All I can say is, definitely not a), how could it be?  Then the time-scale of FNIT up until leaving the mountain seems pretty fluid to me, so whether it was before or after the August night doesn't really seem to matter, except that the extra night together would have deepened their intimacy, I suppose.  The need for that degree of confidence in each other, in order for the DE to happen at all, seems unlikely to have developed enough in the turbulent emotional aftermath of FNIT (my interpretation, not in the text), so my guess is that it was fairly near the end of their time there.

Not what we were asked, but I do feel that the book and the film enhance each other equally here.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Desecra on July 14, 2008, 12:42:20 PM
Could I jump in, because I still haven't come to a conclusion over this and would like to air my views - hopefully people can point out the flaws, etc.?   I'm glad you're giving your insights, Cally, because I feel I'm missing something.

Pre-FNIT.

I know this seems odd, but one poster came up with a very good argument for why she thought the DE was prior to the FNIT in the film.   It seemed to her that after sex complicated things, Ennis would not have been uninhibited enough to go for the open, loving expression of the DE.   I think this could actually fit into the film, although I don't think that was the film-makers' intention.  (In an earlier draft, the DE was placed in context, after the FNIT - I don't have the copy of that script now, so I can't remember exactly when it was placed, but hopefully somebody else will weigh in!).    In the book, an earlier DE isn't needed, because despite the sex, Ennis seems to be unaware that he's attracted to Jack and believes that the love he is expressing is platonic. 

However, the problem with putting the DE before the FNIT is that it seems a little too intimate - it's as if they need something else to get them to that point, more than the talking by the fire. 

Post-FNIT, pre-August night
I agree with Cally that it doesn't seem as if the DE happens just after the FNIT in the film - there seems to be too much conflict going on, and it doesn't seem like Ennis would be relaxed enough (although he's relaxed enough for the SNIT, so maybe...).   In the book there is not that conflict, but again I'm not sure how quickly Ennis could jump from the addition of the sex, to the progression of their 'friendship' in such an intimate way.    The description of that time in the book focusses on the sex. 

However, once they've got used to the sex, I can see it happening.   The August night seemed to make Ennis uncomfortable, so perhaps he'd be less likely to go for a DE after that.

Post-August night.

I think the problem with placing it after the August night is what I mentioned above - Ennis is starting to feel uncomfortable - a strange feeling that everything is mixed.   Would he be relaxed enough to do it?  Certainly not while they're sorting the sheep.

However, there's a little gap at the end of the summer - we don't know how long exactly, maybe days - when the sheep are sorted and they still think they're going to be up there for a good long while.   Finishing sorting the sheep may have been a relief to Ennis.  Nothing came of that 'premonition'.   So they go back to the quick, rough sex, having seemingly managed to sort out the 'mixing' together.    I can see Ennis relaxing enough then for the DE.   He'll still subconsciously avoid spending the night, but one night before he leaves, he gives Jack that loving hug.

Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Sara B on July 14, 2008, 02:48:31 PM
I think I've been missing quite a lot about the August night, Desacra, and I've only just read it more carefully and taken in 'In a disquieting way everything seemed mixed'.  Are they subconsciously aware that the summer will end soon but aren't able to think about, much less discuss, what will happen next? I really hadn't noticed (thinking on my feet now) the implication of the consequence, to Ennis, no, to both of them, of spending the whole night together.  Apart from their feeling guilty for neglecting the sheep (and that's had a precursor in the film with the earlier FNIT dead sheep, but not relevant here), what might have happened between them for the 'everything'?  Do tell me what you think - I know you'll all have discussed it before. I suppose I've always rushed through it because I just hate what's coming.

So, with I hope a little bit of added insight, I'll go for late in that second period - still can't accept before FNIT!
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: janjo on July 14, 2008, 04:12:33 PM
Callly, do you think that the film SNIT is Ang's representation of the August night in the tent?
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Dagonet on July 14, 2008, 06:58:14 PM

Regarding the timing of the DE. . .

(And if just anyone can jump in here. . .)


I would think that the DE (which Ennis breaks off in order to take care of the sheep) would have to occur either before the (sexual) relationship really got going ("sheep be damned") or else after the mixing of the herds, when he and Jack discovered the consequences of total inattention. 

Can we, perhaps, go the most direct route here and place the Dozy Embrace on the very last night on Brokeback Mountain, right before word arrives to pack up and come down?  It would explain Ennis' sense of dislocation and anger/grief, at having his time with Jack come to an end just as he's starting to figure things out.  It provides a literal explanation for "and maybe they'd never got much farther than that," because they really didn't get any more time together.  It also provides a nice juxstaposition, of Ennis riding off that night (leaving Jack behind), and Jack driving away the next morning.  Lastly, if the DE is an emotional touchstone for Ennis (as it so eloquently is for Jack), it makes sense for it to occur during "that old, cold time on Brokeback Mountain."


Cheers,

Dagonet
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Ministering angel on July 14, 2008, 08:45:33 PM
No question that it happened on Brokeback. "that distant summer" can't reasonably mean anything but 1963.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Dagonet on July 14, 2008, 09:04:44 PM
No question that it happened on Brokeback. "that distant summer" can't reasonably mean anything but 1963.


Err, ahhh, oops.    The last line in my last post should probably  have gone something like:  it makes sense for the DE to occur towards the end of that summer, as the snows began to fall, during "that old, cold time on Brokeback Mountain."


Cheers,

Dagonet
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Ministering angel on July 14, 2008, 09:20:21 PM
I see  :D  I think the line about the old cold time refers to all of the time on Brokeback, rather than specifically after the snows came but I see your point. The question is, why was it cold? I feel the coldness refers to Ennis's lack of awareness about the truth. The coldness is his "frozen" emotional response. I assume this because of all the symbolism pertaining to snow, water, etc. as emotion (and clearly Ennis del Mar can be viewed as water - and earth - a gay man [the island] isolated by his emotions [the sea])
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: royandronnie on July 14, 2008, 09:42:34 PM
Actually, I have always leaned emotionally towards placing it their very last time together, and when Ennis comes back the next afternoon--boom!

I realize of course this is a little too neat, not very realistic. In which case I put myself firmly in the "after the sheep mixup" camp.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Desecra on July 14, 2008, 11:12:12 PM
Cally, later when Jack talks about finding out about his circumcision he compares it to marking animals - branding.   I think there's a metaphor about his sexuality there.  He's cut different (and can't get it right). 

When they're sorting the sheep they notice that the marks on the sheep are faded.  I think there's something about sexuality there too.   They both are apparently straight men (Jack probably knows he isn't straight, but Ennis believes he's straight - that's why there's no conflict after the FNIT).   Ennis accepts that they are friends who are happily providing each other with sexual relief.  However, spending the night together doesn't quite fit with that - presumably, although he maybe had the excuse of the stormy weather, he stayed because he wanted to be with Jack, and they also had sex, which is blurring the lines a little.   The next morning it seems as if some higher power is bringing punishment - for Ennis neglecting his duties, but also for the reason he neglected his duties.   It seems to be a subconscious feeling as they only thing Ennis is conscious of is that vague feeling of things being mixed.   Subconsciously (it all seems to be subconscious with Ennis) he has been controlling what he does with Jack so that it's not obvious that he's attracted to him (keeping the sex quick and rough, etc.).   When the sheep are mixed he gets the feeling that there's something he's not comfortable with (the brands/sexuality are faded) but still not enough to be aware of the attraction.

So, after they've sorted the sheep out, does he still feel uncomfortable?   There are no more nights together, but once the problem was sorted, would he feel relief, and maybe a couple of days later, relaxed enough for a DE?
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Desecra on July 14, 2008, 11:25:36 PM
Janjo, I don't think the SNIT can be the August night.  It doesn't fit in with the quick, rough sex - it's something else entirely which never happened on Brokeback in the book.   If anything, it's closer to the reunion, because it happens after Ennis has gone through the conflict about his sexuality and denied it while admitting the attraction to Jack.   There also IS an August night in the film - the night of the storm, when the sheep stray.

(I'm not even sure that the SNIT happened anywhere in the book - I don't think it's their style.   At the last meeting they seem to be more direct than the SNIT.)

Dagonet and RoyandRonnie - placing it on the last night feels good, but I agree that it just seems a little bit too much of a coincidence that they reach the peak of their relationship and unexpectedly, the very next day, they're called down.    It would explain why there were no more dozy embraces that summer, but wouldn't explain the lack of them for the next 20 years. 

It's a difficult one.  They don't necessarily have much time between the FNIT and the punch - maybe only three or four weeks, a week of which is spent sorting the sheep.   So if you leave out the sheep-sorting time, you have to have the DE taking place either fairly soon after the FNIT (within a week or so) or fairly soon after the sheep-sorting.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: aussie on July 14, 2008, 11:34:08 PM
Desecra...  I think you're on the money.  Remember after the sheep were sorted and they were riding back,  Jack was playing his harmonica (His was a friend of mine) and Ennis teases him saying he'll scare the sheep again if he's not careful then Ennis gives him one of his sort of one eye closed smiles.   (A special moment)
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Ministering angel on July 14, 2008, 11:58:21 PM
In a dramatic sense I like the idea that the DE precedes the August night. Ennis stays away from the sheep longer and longer so it makes sense that on the night of the DE he is drawn to Jack so much that he not only lingers but he also does something he's never done before - takes Jack in his arms and holds him. I don't know what prompted Ennis to do that but there had to be some developing feeling of missing him each time he had to be up at the sheep.

The August night then becomes an extension of that, although I'm not suggesting it's a nonsexual night. The thing about the DE is that it seems to come out of the blue. If Ennis realised he had a loving attraction towards Jack, beyond the purely sexual, would he initiate such an intimate act? I don't think so. I feel that he goes to Jack for whatever reason and is then caught up in the sensations that overcome them. Does that make any sense? It's completely unpremeditated as an act.

But the good feelings might inspire him to hang around the next (?) night and maybe fall asleep when he normally wouldn't. But then the next morning the sheep are mixed, the feelings are mixed, he's getting inklings of feelings he doesn't want to know about, so --- no more tender moments. The DE is a superb moment for both, but Ennis pulls back from it - with the shake and push - just before it triggers his non-queer reaction.

As Des reminds us, there really isn't much time on the mountain anyway.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: en e me on July 15, 2008, 01:03:41 AM
My thoughts have long been the DE was when "there were only the two of them on the mountain flying in the euphoric bitter air, looking down on the hawk's back and the crawling lights of vehicles on the plain below, suspended above ordinary affairs and distant from tame ranch dogs barking in the dark hours", believing "themselves invisible."

Only in such an environment would Ennis let his guard down that much. Once Jack came under the bold stare of Aguirre I doubt he would stand with the innocense he projects in the recall. And Ennis was unable after the metaphoric mixing of the sheep in his mind.

The slight skewing of events in the film from the SS allows in my thoughts that it could have happened just after the shirt chase the morning after SNIT but the SNIT was created to prove love existed to the diehard disbelievers and the true believer would get it just from the DE.

It's one of those questions asked to calm the doubts but the doubts are there because we are never sure we are understanding deeply enough the story. And that's the point of writing of a type of love so hidden in plain sight.....to startle.


Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Desecra on July 15, 2008, 01:13:51 AM
Oh, good point about Aguirre's stare.   Especially with Aguirre being a kind of father/authority figure - yes, that might have put Jack on edge.   But maybe not enough for the DE to be affected?   I'm not sure.  What would Jack do differently - would he not accept Ennis's embrace?  Or would he be too on edge to have the pure happiness?  I tend to think that Jack could have accepted a DE at any time, but it's an interesting point. 
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Sara B on July 15, 2008, 01:33:25 AM
Cally, do you think that the film SNIT is Ang's representation of the August night in the tent?[/quote]

Janjo, I think my short answer is No, but my head is spinning with all these (to me) new ideas, and can't get it all sorted ATM.  Better get on with my other life for a bit.



But one more thing:
All you purists on the subject of SNIT - and intellectually I suppose agree with you, but emotionally not - PLEASE tell me you love it as much as I do...
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Sandy on July 15, 2008, 08:12:00 AM
~snip~The question is, why was it cold? I feel the coldness refers to Ennis's lack of awareness about the truth. The coldness is his "frozen" emotional response. I assume this because of all the symbolism pertaining to snow, water, etc. as emotion (and clearly Ennis del Mar can be viewed as water - and earth - a gay man [the island] isolated by his emotions [the sea])
Perhaps, but it is cold in the Mountains during summer. I remember waking up to snowflakes in mid-August in Yellowstone Park just a day after coming out of the Big Horn Mountains. Maybe there is some metaphoric extension to emotions, but it's grounded in the facts of the environment.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: janjo on July 15, 2008, 12:45:11 PM
Janjo, I don't think the SNIT can be the August night.  It doesn't fit in with the quick, rough sex - it's something else entirely which never happened on Brokeback in the book.   If anything, it's closer to the reunion, because it happens after Ennis has gone through the conflict about his sexuality and denied it while admitting the attraction to Jack.   There also IS an August night in the film - the night of the storm, when the sheep stray.

(I'm not even sure that the SNIT happened anywhere in the book - I don't think it's their style.   At the last meeting they seem to be more direct than the SNIT.)


Oh, I wasn't trying to suggest that the SNIT was anywhere in the book, rather that it may have been the occasion that the script writers adapted to become the SNIT for the film. In the same way as they moved parts of the motel conversation to the scene at the lakeside, I think they split the August night in the tent to one showing love, and one showing the hail storm.
Ennis feelings became "mixed" after the August night, which I think may have suggested to the screenwriters that something different happened on that particular night, even if it is not explicitly mention in the text of the short story.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Desecra on July 15, 2008, 02:11:29 PM
We're not told anything about the August night, though, apart from that Ennis spent the night in the tent and the sheep went off in a storm.  So I don't think they adapted that to the SNIT, but left it as it was in the book (although obviously, we're not told that Ennis felt everything was mixed).    There aren't any sheep running off after the SNIT, that we see.   There is a sheep problem after the FNIT (Ennis sees the mutilated sheep) - I suppose you could try to relate that to the sheep-mixing after the August night, but it seems to me to be more related to Earl's body (and also Jack's perhaps, as a premonition).

In the book, what prompts Ennis's 'mixed' feelings seems to be the mixed sheep after he neglected them to spend the night with Jack - we don't seem to be told about anything different other than that.   It can't be the night of the DE because Ennis rides back to the sheep after the DE.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Ministering angel on July 15, 2008, 05:12:47 PM

But one more thing:
All you purists on the subject of SNIT - and intellectually I suppose agree with you, but emotionally not - PLEASE tell me you love it as much as I do...

No question. I love that scene. It's one of my favourites. It is perfect for the film, even if it doesn't tally with the story. I have no problem in adoring it wholeheartedly.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Ministering angel on July 15, 2008, 05:22:11 PM
Re. an earlier question on where the DE was originally to be placed, in the oldest script I have, there is no DE shown in its correct chronological place, but in the pre-shooting script it is placed between the sheep mix and the last morning when Ennis wakes up to snow. FWIW.

In the film we don't get the sense of five days passing where Ennis (not Jack) has to sort out the sheep. Neither to we get the sense that his feelings are mixed. It's just a pain in the arse for them to have to do the work.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Ministering angel on July 15, 2008, 05:27:06 PM
~snip~The question is, why was it cold? I feel the coldness refers to Ennis's lack of awareness about the truth. The coldness is his "frozen" emotional response. I assume this because of all the symbolism pertaining to snow, water, etc. as emotion (and clearly Ennis del Mar can be viewed as water - and earth - a gay man [the island] isolated by his emotions [the sea])
Perhaps, but it is cold in the Mountains during summer. I remember waking up to snowflakes in mid-August in Yellowstone Park just a day after coming out of the Big Horn Mountains. Maybe there is some metaphoric extension to emotions, but it's grounded in the facts of the environment.

Well, of course it's grounded in the facts of the environment. She's not going to use a tropical allusion. I know it's cold up there. I've stood on Mt Brokenback in the Big Horns in June and seen snow below me so I'm well aware of the conditions. However, in the prologue Ennis isn't thinking about literally rewarming that old cold time, so the literal truth about weather conditions is secondary to the metaphorical meaning IMHO.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Sandy on July 15, 2008, 06:21:21 PM
Maybe Ennis is thinking about warming up something cold between his legs. That's another metaphorical extension of the literal text, and who's to say it's wrong? That's the point all of the metaphorical interpretations imply a literal phrase on which they are based, but the opposite is not true. There is no reason a literal phrase necessarily implies metaphorical interpretation X, Y or Z. In that sense, the literal reading has primacy. And, if it's intended to do anything beyond itself, maybe the literal phrase is included there to make the reader "feel" a chill, not as a go-ahead to create a metaphorical extension.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Ministering angel on July 15, 2008, 06:27:14 PM
No, I'd say that suggestion of yours might be literal rather than metaphorical  :D :D
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Dagonet on July 15, 2008, 10:55:39 PM

Well, of course it's grounded in the facts of the environment. She's not going to use a tropical allusion. I know it's cold up there. I've stood on Mt Brokenback in the Big Horns in June and seen snow below me so I'm well aware of the conditions. However, in the prologue Ennis isn't thinking about literally rewarming that old cold time, so the literal truth about weather conditions is secondary to the metaphorical meaning IMHO.


I would respectfully suggest that the connotations of cold here are positive.  "That old, cold time on Brokeback Mountain, when they owned the world and nothing seemed wrong."  Given that this is a memory which Ennis uses to stoke his day, given that at this point in the story he has made his peace with Jack (as much as he can), given that Jack was in his dream last night, I'm thinking that the cold has to be metaphorically keyed to something (if it's even keyed to anything) which makes the memory *better*.  Not emotional distance.  Not shame.  Possibly the Dozy Embrace, if the timing is right. . .

Cheers,

Dagonet
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Ministering angel on July 16, 2008, 03:11:44 AM
What do you mean by timing?
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Ministering angel on July 16, 2008, 03:13:38 AM
n the occasion that the script writers adapted to become the SNIT for the film. In the same way as they moved parts of the motel conversation to the scene at the lakeside, I think they split the August night in the tent to one showing love, and one showing the hail storm.
Ennis feelings became "mixed" after the August night, which I think may have suggested to the screenwriters that something different happened on that particular night, even if it is not explicitly mention in the text of the short story.

Are you suggesting that up until the August night there was no SNIT-type behaviour? What would cause such a change?
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: janjo on July 16, 2008, 04:24:38 AM
No I'm not suggesting that at all. It is Ennis' feelings that change and develop. The desire to stay with Jack all night, all of the time really, and the consequences of the sheep getting "mixed" and his feelings getting "mixed" too.
I believe that is what Annie Proulx is telling us here!
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Ministering angel on July 16, 2008, 04:31:30 AM
So are you saying that the August night was just more of the same only longer? Why, then, would the screenwriters have cause to see their addition as splitting the August night into two, hail and mixed sheep for the in situ August night, and mushy stuff for SNIT?
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: janjo on July 16, 2008, 04:43:10 AM
So are you saying that the August night was just more of the same only longer? Why, then, would the screenwriters have cause to see their addition as splitting the August night into two, hail and mixed sheep for the in situ August night, and mushy stuff for SNIT?

Because it's the second night in the tent mentioned in the book, and, can you see love growing in someones heart or does Joe Aguirre have to come and put a notice up outside the tent? :D
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Ministering angel on July 16, 2008, 05:07:58 AM
Strictly speaking, it's the third night in the tent  ;D

But the point is that, whether or not it's the second night mentioned on the mountain after they start things happening, it's still not the night directly after they first have sex, so why would they wait that long to get into the mushy stuff? Love is growing (and no, I do not need a sign, thank you) but the recognition of that love, at least on Ennis's part, is something he cannot handle, and so he doesn't.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: janjo on July 16, 2008, 02:44:12 PM
I very much doubt that it was a particularly mushy relationship, but that doesn't mean that it involved no tenderness at all. We are, I think, left to make up our own minds about that, and we both have, you don't think there was any, I think that in a rough sort of way there probably was. Surely we are both only doing what the author wanted us to do, interpret the story in the light of our own experiences.
I don't think it is anything to argue about.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on July 16, 2008, 04:01:23 PM
Brillant posting these last few days...

I've always felt the DE was definitely after physical intimacy, in fact always thought it had a standing-up spooning feel to it-like it happened literally after sex. So I think it was after FNIT, but not after the night in the night in the tent.

I think the sheep getting mixed WAS the consequence in Ennis's mind-do something wrong, possiblly lose your job. It was like a warning, I'm thinking. I think the line about everything seeming mixed is the first inkling Ennis has of what they are really doing; its the first hole in the screen of the illusion that nothing was wrong. I think Jack's ministering tears the screen open, and Ennis's punch puts the onus on Jack. I think Ennis in the end, must be remembering the time before that August night, because until then, he had no inkling.

As to the 'old, cold time'-I do wonder if 'cold' is meant to mean cold as in analytical, as if he is looking objectively at the time on the mountain-a cold, rational perspective. I dunno.

Just popping in to read the great posts. :) Take care all.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Ministering angel on July 16, 2008, 05:38:54 PM
I very much doubt that it was a particularly mushy relationship, but that doesn't mean that it involved no tenderness at all. We are, I think, left to make up our own minds about that, and we both have, you don't think there was any, I think that in a rough sort of way there probably was. Surely we are both only doing what the author wanted us to do, interpret the story in the light of our own experiences.
I don't think it is anything to argue about.

As ever, we are talking at cross purposes. I don't see it as a mushy relationship either, and I do see tenderness there, but the physical tenderness (as I see it) came with the reunion kiss. That opened the locked door to all the stuff Ennis hadn't been able to do beforehand. The previous four years of emotional growth, beginning with his trying to puke in the alley, was suddenly released in one explosive moment over which he had no control.

I don't know that our own experiences have a direct bearing on our interpretation. That would imply, I think, that we could not take an objective look at what is written. Of course we bring individual aspects to our interpretation but one doesn't have to experience a particular thing in order to recognise it in a work of fiction. Otherwise we'd never move beyond our own lives.

However, I think each one of us who is grabbed by BBM has some personal connection with the story and the characters, but not always in an obvious way.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: janjo on July 17, 2008, 02:54:40 AM
I thought that the reunion kiss was what you were aiming towards, and as you well know my feelings about that, then you also know my reasons for not agreeing with you about the time on the mountain. I will say no more, I can't face seeing Dal's "worms" again. Once was enough!

As for reading in the light of experience, I was not suggesting that one had to have personal experience of things, rather just a knowledge gained through life of the varieties of human behaviour, and of the experiences of not just oneself, but also of friends and aquaintances, and of subjects studied and learned in an academic way.
I haven't ever been a man, I am not gay, but I can feel extreme pain for both Jack and Ennis. I have learned over the years a little of what it is to be a man, from living with one and having male friends and relatives, I have gay friends, many of them on this forum, so I have learned a little about that, and as a child I suffered from merciless bullying at school, so I know what it feels like to not be the same, or to be accepted by the main mass of ones peers.
I put all of that learned and personal experience together, and the tears for Jack and Ennis flow easily.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: janjo on July 18, 2008, 04:10:00 PM
In relation to the above I have just found Annie Proulx's actual quote which I detail below, and whch I think more clearly illustrates my point.

Their relationship endures for 20 years, never resolved, never faced up to, always haunted by fear and confusion. How different readers take the story is a reflection of their own personal values, attitudes, hang-ups. It is my feeling that a story is not finished until it is read, and that the reader finishes it through his or her life experience, prejudices, world view and thoughts.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on July 18, 2008, 10:46:15 PM
Quote
'How different readers take the story is a reflection of their own personal values, attitudes, hang-ups. '


I do love AP's quotes!

I take above to mean there is a primary intent, and whether or not we catch that intent, is based on our own experience. Our interpretations do not nullify the author's intent. I think AP is just saying, 'take from it what you will.' I don't think she means that there are a lot of different meanings and she means them all. I think she is happy to not explain, and to allow us to finish the story ourselves.
I however, am not happy with that, personally. I want to know what SHE intended... ;)
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Ministering angel on July 24, 2008, 11:17:58 PM
Putting this here as a fairly all-encompassing thread.

Occasionally, when a debate breaks out about the "realness" of the story and the "artificiality" of certain approaches to it, mine included, I like to point out how highly structured the SS is, e.g. how the story is told three times, how it has ten-year intervals between highly significant events, how certain scenes echo and/or illuminate others, such as the two childhood traumas or the reunion and the scene at the Twists, not to mention the various leitmotifs.

Despite this structure the story is so true to human nature that, as we all know, Jack and Ennis are more real than many flesh and blood people we encounter, to paraphrase Annie Proulx. The film has a naturalness to it which is hard to get past at first, yet it is as structured as the story. My humble opinion is that this structure is there to reflect the original work, as well as to assist the telling of the story in subtle ways which mimic the written technique..

I have posted a breakdown of the film structure here. (http://www.davecullen.com/forum/index.php?topic=1409.msg1366143#msg1366143)
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on August 24, 2008, 08:43:07 PM
I'm always struck by how much of a set-up the story is; too many things seem to occur as if there is an artificial turf, or motorized walk-way  beneath them, pushing them on; yet the behavior of the characters is so true-to-life within this structure. That is a tribute to the enormity of the writing skills demonstrated; you don't really realize the set-up you're "in" until you get to the end.
 An example, is how we don't know about the divorce scene, so don't fully understand, perhaps, the depth of Jack's bitterness in the last argument.  His battery is running low, but perhaps one thinks, up front, it is more about the lack of living together-until we come to realize there is a short leash in place. The divorce debacle shows us the lengths to which Ennis will allow himself to go to hurt Jack, to make him hear good. And Jack keeps getting caught up in it. We know there is a potential pattern as discussed in the motel scene, ie, 'that punch a yours surprised me', followed by 'nothin like hurting somebody, etc,', and finally, 'you won't catch me again.' The anatomy of the short leash-you can go so far, but no further, cuz I'll hurt you. But the mixed signals-the DE; the Reunion; the one phone call, continue to give mixed messages to Jack. Yet we cannot know ALL of  this, until the end.
So the relationship MUST alter in our minds, even though we've been watching what we thought was a predicable and realistic pattern of behavior. Not sure, frankly, how AP accomplishes this. It's a kind of "I know it when I see it" experience. Not sure you can follow this...It's a tough thing for me to express.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Ministering angel on August 25, 2008, 07:08:36 PM
I know what you mean. There is an incredible artificiality to the whole story - the three iterations is an obvious one. And yet she wraps it up in such a realistic fashion that it's hard to see the structure first off. I'll get back to this later because it's one of the most fascinating things about the story.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Dal on August 26, 2008, 07:33:56 AM
~There is an incredible artificiality to the whole story - the three iterations is an obvious one. And yet she wraps it up in such a realistic fashion that it's hard to see the structure first off.~

Why does she do that?  How important is it? [Not for this thread, though.  I'm guessing the discussion will inevitably veer into symbolism in no time flat, so may as well move it there]

Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Ministering angel on August 26, 2008, 05:17:48 PM
Your wish is my command. (This offer is limited, and cannot be taken in conjunction with any other offer.)
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: fofol on August 29, 2008, 02:21:30 PM
Quote
'How different readers take the story is a reflection of their own personal values, attitudes, hang-ups. '


I do love AP's quotes!

I take above to mean there is a primary intent, and whether or not we catch that intent, is based on our own experience. Our interpretations do not nullify the author's intent. I think AP is just saying, 'take from it what you will.' I don't think she means that there are a lot of different meanings and she means them all. I think she is happy to not explain, and to allow us to finish the story ourselves.
I however, am not happy with that, personally. I want to know what SHE intended... ;)

   Jo, sometimes the "primary intent" is just to tell a story.  In the instance of Brokeback, we are told by the author that the story is about homophobia, and the artist believes that this specific location and time will illustrate the total wastefulness of this emotional, irrational hate on everybody's lives.  Our interpretations of an author's story cannot logically affect the author's intent, especially since any author can only write and hope that people are entertained, at the very least, and get the message, if any, at the very most.  Everything else can be a great deal of fun, and can even be educational:  for example, without your input, as I've told you before, I would never have separated the guys' initial time on Brokeback from the rest of their fishin' trips, thereby missing, to my detriment, one of the more significant elements of the story, all those failed attempts to get it right.  Having been the target of homophobic violence, I understood their lives in a very different way than many other kinds of people who read the story, or saw the film; having been raised by parents who meant well, but kept me a social prisoner, separated from most people, my life was so profoundly affected by a sort of "kindly" homophobia my perspective is very personally identified with Ennis's internalized homophobia, and like him this also affected me with a great absence of social skills.  By listening to you, my eyes were truly opened, I saw more of the story, and more of myself.  The details which you ladies are so fond of dissecting can truly founder away into unimportance to me, but that does not negate my interest in what you have to say.  I mean to say that while we do see this grand thing, this story, this film, very differently, that doesn't mean we disagree. Same with what the author "intended:" not every word has the same intensity of intention as every other, as not every leaf on every tree needs to be dissected to understand what a forest "means,"  and that is part of any story that humans could tolerate reading.  Peace and love to all.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on August 29, 2008, 07:31:55 PM
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Mike I always appreciate the thought and acuity you put into your posts, and how they challenge me, even when we disagree.

  I do think though, that  the story has a point, usually, doesn't it?. I might question that with certain stories, but not this one. I'm just saying I'd want to sit with her some day, and see what was behind each passage. I'd be ok, even if she said,'Oh, who knows what it meant-it just sounded good', I would. Cuz I understand that. But I think she engineered this story, very precisely. I just want to know. I want to go to the original source, always. That's me. I don't believe I meant anything more than that.  :)
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Ministering angel on August 31, 2008, 06:11:39 AM
Very good article, although I haven't read it all. It is indeed long!
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Sandy on August 31, 2008, 10:37:37 AM
It is an interesting article. Although it is basically descriptive, it does make a case for how well the film realizes the short story. Perhaps further discussion on the article could go into the thread on the structure of the film.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on August 31, 2008, 12:28:54 PM
I wondered where it should go. I can put it there.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on October 19, 2008, 09:51:31 AM
[I moved this from that last scene, after it was prompted by one of Janjo's comments there.]

The whole story is just one giant, unnecessary-but unavoidable- heartbreak, isn't it? ...Ennis could've stayed closeted, more or less, WITH Jack-they could've been ranch partners, ya know? So what stopped that, you have to ask?  It has to be something inside him, that won't accept himself. I still think he'd have been able to go to Denver with Jack, for example,  had he accepted himself. It would be a version of  Earl and Rich, who clearly were after a place to live quietly-Sage was pretty far out in the middle of nowhere. But even they were unsafe, in that tiny town, which is a nod to DRH. But, when Ennis asked, in the motel, 'what do other people do?' It was a bit of the window God opens, when he closes a door-and poor Jack missed it. Ennis of course, having not been to a big city-or to Mexico  ;) would have no idea 'what other people do'. He only knows it has evil connotations-'Mexico was the place-he'd heard.' Where what? Where queers go?  Apparently. And Ennis would probably die before he'd go there with Jack...

    Right there, we know he does not see himself in the same position as he sees Jack. He doesn't go there, so he ain't it; He's got a wife and kid, so he's straight.  He's putting the blocks to a waitress, etc. She has problems, but he's having sex with her, so it's not his fault of his sexuality, that they can't make a go of it....And now that Jack has stated he is no longer having sex with his wife, well....that's just plain scary to Ennis, about Jack. He can't be having his thing with a queer man, plain and simple. It makes HIM queer, too.

The illusion about Jack shatters for ironically the very reason that should SHOW Ennis what he-Ennis-is really feeling, and why he can't love that waitress:
Ennis is 'faithful', in terms of actual sex, with Jack. There are no other men. But in order to realize that, he would need an understanding about his own sexuality; he would need to see the building blocks: I'm gay, but I don't want any other men; but I want Jack, so I must be seriously in love with Jack.

Instead, he imagines he can love women-and Jack is just a couple of times a year outlet; and now he has proof Jack is different than him-he's admitted to Mexico.

I'm not going on about jealousy here; My point is, that is about love, not sex......Even if Ennis misunderstands why Jack goes to Mexico-which allows us to see Ennis putting the promsicuous gay label on Jack, as we talked about in Q-he still misses the boat about himself; that the reason he himself cannot go after other men, is not because he is not gay-it is because he is  completely in love with Jack, and he has compartmentalized that into something else.  Jack basically blasted a hole in Ennis's wall of denial, even as Ennis ignored the impact for what it was.... And he has to keep it to that one outlet, lest he seem to want sex for sex's sake with other men-then it would terrifying to him, to think he wanted other men. That would put him in the 'boys like you' category, where he has put Jack. "I don't want to be one of them guys you see around sometimes."

  But what he misses, is the very fact that he ONLY wants Jack-This is what fits in no nicely with the disvovery of the shirts and the shattering of the BBM illusion: He knows what he feels is only about Jack,  and therefore, it must be  love-not just sexual desire. He can identify that feeling as something he's never had with anyone else, either in terms of love, or sex; but he can only face it once the threat of exposure is gone....I think this is the moment that separates his ability to have sex, ie with a woman; from his ability to want sex with Jack. For only in Jack's death, can Ennis suddenly measure what he will never have again.

   What the shirts tell him of Jack, of course, is that all those trips to Mexicio were indeed, about Ennis, starting back in 1963. Jack harboured his love in silence-because Ennis put him in the position of never talking about it, first with the punch; then with the pull-back from the Reunion; then with the divorce scene; the with his silence following, 'Sometimes I miss you so much'; and finally with his falling to his knees, unable to speak; and unable to  stand what Jack was saying to him. So the impact of that horrid little repressed place in LF, that I know for sure now, Jack had no desire to actually bring Ennis to, other than to soothe his issues with his father, is almost like a metaphor for Jack and Ennis: the two up, two down, is almost about the implicit separation, between Jack and Ennis, with Ennis in the upper rooms-the seat of power. All the imagery has signposts, esp in that their whole relationship was carried on way out in the middle of nowhere: Ennis was inadvertently giving Jack the same message as his early life gave him: You are alone in this. He locks that down, with' boys like you';  So to find that barely hidden treasure, up in that 'shallow cavity', that had not been filled enough by either parental love, or love from The Other, is to show Ennis precisely the truth-and how he, like Jack's father,  failed.

I'll never understand how anyone can hold this relationship up as a model of success...It remains to me, a serious caution about failure to thrive, with lots of false starts, where we think it is getting somewhere..and then the little engine rolls back down the hill. The key to me is always: The amazing potential it carried.

They could indeed have 'gone to Denver', and to hell with the risk.

I know there were the shining moments....I wonder, who feels the relationship was a success, because they still managed to get together even only a few times a year over 20 years? I know it was not likely they'd get together more, without the danger element increasing exponentially... How do we measure that 'success'? I'm very curious how people feel about this.???????
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Desecra on October 19, 2008, 10:10:15 AM
Going off at a tangent from your question - yes, the Denver idea is an interesting open door.  Ennis makes the distinction between them (straight friends having a thing) and gay men.   As you say, he knows what gay men do and where they go (to Mexico).   He asks what do other people do - other people like us?  But Jack mentions Denver then dismisses it - it doesn't happen here.  I think the underlying meaning is 'this isn't what's happening here' (i.e. we're not straight men with a thing).    But it makes you wonder, if he'd pushed the Denver thing... Ennis was accepting the two straight men concept, and accepting the idea that there might be others and that they might go somewhere and try to get more time together.   So it was a weak spot in Ennis's barriers - if Jack had pushed against that.... after all Ennis had gone to a motel with him.    If Jack had said' Yes, it does happen to other people, and they go to Denver' then continued with that - is there the possibility that Ennis would have considered a move to Denver?   Not later, but just at that point?  Would that have been a way to maintain his denial?  Then together, there would have been no more need for 'Mexico', so no last argument.   But would there have been dozy embraces?   Would Ennis still always have known about Jack?  Or would a city environment have led him to come round a little?
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on October 19, 2008, 10:31:48 AM
So are you thinking Jack now thinks Ennis is gay, too, even after he gets married and after he has told Jack, 'I'm not no queer'? I wonder...I always thought Jack took Ennis at face value, and never went past, "I'm too effed up for him to love, apparently." He has the intellect; but I don't think he has the capacity, emotionally, to go beyond that. I do think Ennis's response at the Reunion, confused Jack, as did whatever happened in the Columbine. and I think Jack was ripe to believe he was a loner in all this..He had grown up that way.

??
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Desecra on October 19, 2008, 11:31:41 AM
No, I think Jack already knows that he (Jack) isn't straight.  Although he denies it when asked directly he's all but admitting it in other ways.   But I wonder what would have happened if he'd gone along with the denial and said that that IS what's happening here, and when it happens to other people they go to Denver (or whereever) and so should we.   He doesn't really give Ennis a chance to get his head round that idea.   The only suggestion he has for being together is one Ennis associates with Rich and Earl.   I'm not saying he'd have got anywhere, but who knows?   Two country boys looking for work in the city is not suspicious.   Or maybe I'm just looking for a possible happy ending :).

There would still be the whole shame thing, and Ennis not accepting Jack, knowing Jack was gay, etc.   But if Jack had grasped on to that 'other people' thing and worked harder at the pretence, he maybe could have convinced Ennis enough for long enough until the urban environment broke through the defences a little ... maybe.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Ministering angel on October 19, 2008, 06:03:48 PM
But Ennis has already put the kybosh on any meetings in public with his comment about what happened back at the apartment. He is scared of the uncontrolled quality of his feelings. As you've said, Jo, he thinks of them as something apart from himself, they come out of the blue rather than arising from his own needs. So how the hell could he contemplate moving to Denver or wherever if he's scared that, unpredictably, he might fling himself on Jack in public?

I do think there was a window there but what Jack could have made of it, given both Ennis's misgivings and Jack's own feelings of unworthiness, I don't know.

It's the same with Lightning Flat. As I think you were saying previously, Jo, it wasn't the be-all and end-all for Jack. He wanted a life with Ennis, not a life at LF. But he could never bring himself to suggest it again because a knockback would have devastated him. Oops, what about the post-divorce visit.

Actually, what about the post-divorce visit? We know nothing about it but we can guess. It's a bit like the torquing - full of significance but completely unspecified. How did Jack get away with another "live with me" gesture, and how did Ennis avoid it?
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on October 19, 2008, 06:11:15 PM
The fact that Jack 'misunderstood' the reason for the visit, tells us he did communicate to Ennis that he thought Ennis was ready to take off with him..and why not? Ennis told him it was too late, that he was stuck in his own loop, back in the Reunion-but he is not anymore. What Jack underestimated, or could not really understand, was how bad the shame factor was-when Ennis said he didn't want to be one of them guys, Jack, who knows that he himself IS one of those guys, played it down, somehow. So he had no other option, but then to believe the rejection was about him, personally. And in the end, he STILL doesn't get it-he thinks it was heart attack or rage.

It is Ennis who finally gets it.

I think a clue about Jack is how angry he gets when Ennis asks, 'what do other people do?' Ennis is missing the point-Jack doesn't care about other people-he cares about them. So I can see him blowing off Ennis's fears, and thinking that it's more about him, than anything. I'm sure he gave that motel bed his best shot-and apparently, in his mind, it wasn't good enough to pull Ennis away from his family. Of course, Jack could never understand that-he is ready to dump it all for Ennis.

Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: janjo on October 20, 2008, 12:06:11 PM
Ennis could never even comprehend the idea of moving to Denver. He could be with his lover, but he would lose everything else that made him the man he was. A little like old people who won't leave their homes even in the most dire situations of flooding or other threat. He didn't have the education or the comprehension of what a life in Denver would be like, so he couldn't even consider it.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Desecra on October 20, 2008, 12:45:59 PM
It's often said that Ennis couldn't have gone to Denver (or anywhere urban) for the reasons you mention.   And yes, some people do become conditioned to their life - they somehow don't picture themselves in a different sort of environment and don't see the possibilities.   Not just country people either - I grew up with people who only want to live and work in the same area we grew up in - and nothing wrong with that, of course.   But, on the other hand, country people have quite a history of moving to the cities (probably even faster than the city people moving out looking for paradise).  We do know that Ennis aspired to be a sophomore and only gave up when it was practically impossible, not because he couldn't imagine having an education.    So I'm less convinced than I used to be that he would reject the idea of living in a city outright.    He also rejects the idea of living in the country with Jack.   It's the living together that is the problem, not the moving or the lifestyle change.   However, what I'm wondering is if the city might have been more acceptable from the safety point of view - it would be more common for young men to be living together (they wouldn't have to live together as a couple), etc.   And Ennis's worst memory is tied to a rural location - in the country, where people talk and local laws prevail - an big, anonymous city could be more private.

I think the big problem would be Ennis getting over the rest of his homophobia - not accepting Jack and their relationship.   That would presumably follow them where ever they went. 

But we never get to find out - Jack doesn't seriously suggest Denver.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Sandy on October 20, 2008, 01:57:49 PM
Neither Ennis nor Jack had the skills or high school diplomas for life in a big city.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Desecra on October 20, 2008, 02:34:46 PM
People lived in poverty in cities too.   If they didn't have skills, I suppose they took unskilled work, or work which included some training - labouring, etc., or casual work. 
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Ministering angel on October 20, 2008, 03:06:31 PM
I don't see that their educational standards were any barrier. Jack managed to make a living in a small town, after all, and Ennis got on the road crew in Riverton. There's plenty of jobs that don't require specialised skills or education.  The problem was never about where they'd live; it was always about living together.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: janjo on October 20, 2008, 03:21:07 PM
Educational standards are an enormous barrier. Some of the students I work with who are really socially, emotionally and educationally deprived have never been out of the town where they were born. They cannot imagine anywhere else. They have no knowledge of anywhere else. Many of them have never been to London, which is 45 minutes on the train. Even imagination needs something to work on, some experiences to base possibilities on. This would not apply to someone who was an avid reader, but most of these kids can hardly read and write, and remember Ennis could only manage Hamleys Saddle Catalogue.
It is hard to imagine this degree of deprivation in a reasonably wealthy town in the south of England, but I promise you, I see it everyday.
Why would a young boy, orphaned and traumatised in 1960's Wyoming be any different?
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Ministering angel on October 20, 2008, 03:31:50 PM
Jess, you missed the point. The point Sandy was making was that J&E didn't have the skills or education to make a life in Denver (or a big city) not that they would be incapable of considering a move. Jack was obviously capable of considering getting out of a very rural environment.

Someone has to fix the roads and collect the garbage, even in Denver.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Ministering angel on October 20, 2008, 03:36:02 PM
And BTW AP didn't say Ennis was near-illiterate, just that his eyesight wasn't so good. He did go to high school, after all. (And yes, I know that kids can wing it through school with poor reading skills but that's not what she's saying about him. And he could sure read a postcard when required. His reading skills would have been enough for him to get a labouring job in a city.)
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: janjo on October 20, 2008, 04:39:36 PM
Mini, it is you that is missing my point. I wasn't saying that Ennis couldn't read, or that he couldn't collect garbage, in fact I would suggest that the skills he had would put him way above that level of labour, what I was saying was that he would not have the experience to even imagine living in a city.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Ministering angel on October 20, 2008, 04:55:19 PM
No, Jess, I got your point about experience. What I said was that you had missed Sandy's point that "Neither Ennis nor Jack had the skills or high school diplomas for life in a big city." I was disagreeing with HIM.

And as for reading, your comment that Ennis could only manage Hamley's Catalogue was made in the context of kids who can hardly read and write.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Sandy on October 20, 2008, 05:58:32 PM
I don't see that their educational standards were any barrier. Jack managed to make a living in a small town, after all, and Ennis got on the road crew in Riverton. There's plenty of jobs that don't require specialised skills or education.  The problem was never about where they'd live; it was always about living together.
Jack made a living working for his wife's daddy. Couldn't make it as a rodeo cowboy.

I've been to Denver and Riverton, and Riverton ain't no Denver.  ;)  And if there are plenty of jobs that don't require education and specialized skills, then rural Wyoming offers more scope to the boys, relative to the costs of living. And in Ennis' case, child support tied him to where he was.

The problem was they both believed they were cowboys or ranchers, when in fact neither of them got very far on their own even in that line of work. They would have been fish out of water in the big city, and suffocated there.



Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Sandy on October 20, 2008, 06:02:06 PM
People lived in poverty in cities too.   If they didn't have skills, I suppose they took unskilled work, or work which included some training - labouring, etc., or casual work. 
As I noted to Mini, that may be true, but the costs of living in a city are higher, and unskilled labor isn't generally indexed to where you live. Plus there was at least the mental safety net in Ennis' mind that he had a brother and sister somewhere around, as well as his children. Ennis still had contacts and, perhaps, even references in the ranches of Wyoming.

City living was not a viable option for them.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Ministering angel on October 20, 2008, 08:04:21 PM
But all this is irrelevant to a certain degree. Once again, it matters not what they could do if they moved to a big city, or how they'd cope, or whether they were not much cop as rural workers. The real problem is that Ennis would not countenance such a move because that would entail living with a man and that would mean he's q****r.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on October 20, 2008, 08:06:31 PM
The fact that he asks what other people do sort of implies that living together is out-because that would be an obvious answer, given their feelings for each other. If he has to ask, that  means he's already mentally rejected, or would never consider, that option.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Ministering angel on October 20, 2008, 08:23:08 PM
Yes, it's right at the end of the convo. He's already rejected Jack's proposal. If he'd accepted that they were in love then he'd have an answer of sorts. They'd live together like Earl and Rich did. He has his gay model right there, but instead he tries to make him and Jack into something else, not two queer men but two men with this rare complaint. This happen a other people? IOW we're not queer so what do we do? The rejection of the truth comes before everything else.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Desecra on October 20, 2008, 11:45:23 PM
A city wouldn't have to involve living together as a 'couple', not to start with.   It would not be at all unusual for a couple of country boys to move to the city seeking their fortune - it wouldn't be unusual for them to share a room either, but they could also just have rented places close by.   It could have been a temporary solution, at least. 

I'm perfectly aware that gay men were persecuted in cities as well - the difference is that it wouldn't be the same situation as has traumatised Ennis.   Jack inadvertently comes up with the very situation which is going to be the most threatening for Ennis - two men ranching together in a rural environment.  Ennis immediately dismisses the idea.   But then he asks Jack what other people do, and Jack suggests an idea then dismisses it himself, then asks for a brief trip to the mountains.   I'm not sure what to make of that.   Maybe he was just so upset about the cow and calf operation being dismissed.   Or maybe more likely - he'd picked up on the subtext, and realised that fear wasn't the only reason behind Ennis's rejection (he knows enough to deny his sexuality after all).   
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: janjo on October 21, 2008, 12:59:39 AM
My point, and I think Annie Proulx got there far ahead of me, is that Ennis del Mar, means "island in the sea." Ennis, would not, could not move. He does not have the imagination to see the possibilities that are out there. He was obviously able to read books, but he didn't have the desire or the inclination to read anything other than Hamleys Saddle Catalogue. His skills which are great, are not easily transferable to city living, and he would have had to have found a menial occupation, like taking away the garbage, rather than being out in the countryside tending the animals he loved.
As Sandy said in another time and another place, when Ennis finds the shirts he realises that he and Jack loved each other, not that they were both queer.
There are far more reasons than being queer behind Ennis not being able to move into the city with Jack.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Desecra on October 21, 2008, 01:33:58 AM
Ennis didn't dream of ranch work - he was pitched into it when his truck broke down.   He'd wanted to be a sophomore.  He does end up getting a job with the highway crew, and reluctantly stays in town because of his daughter.   With the right sort of reasons, he could have moved or taken work which wouldn't be his first choice.   He might not have had the imagination to do it, but the thing is that Jack brings it up, then Jack dismisses it.

Would Ennis really have chosen working with animals over being with Jack, all else being equal?   I don't think so.   Working with animals isn't the problem - Jack has offered the possibility for them to be together AND work with animals and Ennis has rejected it.   

We know that fear and shame get in the way of their relationship.   The fear part would be addressed by going to Denver - although there would still be some risk, it wouldn't be the same risk.  It wouldn't be quite as pertinent to Ennis.   That leaves the shame - and I think Jack must be picking up on it.   Why else would he dismiss the idea right away?   Because he thinks Ennis will only take jobs working with animals?   If they've talked about jobs, he knows that Ennis is doing labouring work - work that he could do in the city.   It's not that, so it must be that Jack knows Ennis won't be with him at the moment.   The only other reason I can think of is that as some people say, Jack's aim is still to get it right with his father and Ennis is secondary to that - he has the LF plan and dismisses any other possibilities because they won't appease his father.   But that doesn't ring true to me.

Country people moving to the city happens all the time - certainly not just to the highly educated ones.  Remember all the closed down farms on the way to LF, and Jack's father not being able to hire any help....
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Ministering angel on October 21, 2008, 04:03:57 AM
My point, and I think Annie Proulx got there far ahead of me, is that Ennis del Mar, means "island in the sea." Ennis, would not, could not move. He does not have the imagination to see the possibilities that are out there. He was obviously able to read books, but he didn't have the desire or the inclination to read anything other than Hamleys Saddle Catalogue. His skills which are great, are not easily transferable to city living, and he would have had to have found a menial occupation, like taking away the garbage, rather than being out in the countryside tending the animals he loved.
As Sandy said in another time and another place, when Ennis finds the shirts he realises that he and Jack loved each other, not that they were both queer.
There are far more reasons than being queer behind Ennis not being able to move into the city with Jack.

So you are basing your thoughts on his name? If Jack Twist is named after the "twist" or thigh strength needed to cling onto a bull, then why is he capable of moving onto another form of work beyond rodeoing?. Ennis's name does sort of mean island in the sea but that doesn't mean he can't move. He moves from Sage to Lost Cabin to Riverton to Signal, and probably places in between. He is, in his own way, an itinerant worker. He works both ranch jobs and labouring jobs.

And I can't see where you get a lack of imagination from. Imagination does not just come from books, and even if he had never read anything but Hamley's Catalogue, he could still have a vivid enough imagination. As Des said, he had a desire to be a sophomore, and it wasn't his fault he didn't achieve that. He clearly knows about some geography (the North Pole, the Equator) and is invoking a certain amount of imagination in that scene.

As for your last sentence, in this case it probably IS the fact that he is queer - and doesn't want to recognise that fact - which stops him moving anywhere with Jack, city or country. It's a bit like his excuses about his marriage, his kids, the child support - these are excuses to mask the real reason - he doesn't want to be queer.

And FWIW the Galapogos Islands move at about a rate of a couple of inches a year.  ;)
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Sandy on October 21, 2008, 09:16:46 AM
But all this is irrelevant to a certain degree. Once again, it matters not what they could do if they moved to a big city, or how they'd cope, or whether they were not much cop as rural workers. The real problem is that Ennis would not countenance such a move because that would entail living with a man and that would mean he's q****r.

So are you saying that there can be only one correct interpretation? That both explanations cannot apply to one and the same situation?
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: janjo on October 21, 2008, 10:34:06 AM
My point, and I think Annie Proulx got there far ahead of me, is that Ennis del Mar, means "island in the sea." Ennis, would not, could not move. He does not have the imagination to see the possibilities that are out there. He was obviously able to read books, but he didn't have the desire or the inclination to read anything other than Hamleys Saddle Catalogue. His skills which are great, are not easily transferable to city living, and he would have had to have found a menial occupation, like taking away the garbage, rather than being out in the countryside tending the animals he loved.
As Sandy said in another time and another place, when Ennis finds the shirts he realises that he and Jack loved each other, not that they were both queer.
There are far more reasons than being queer behind Ennis not being able to move into the city with Jack.

So you are basing your thoughts on his name? If Jack Twist is named after the "twist" or thigh strength needed to cling onto a bull, then why is he capable of moving onto another form of work beyond rodeoing?. Ennis's name does sort of mean island in the sea but that doesn't mean he can't move. He moves from Sage to Lost Cabin to Riverton to Signal, and probably places in between. He is, in his own way, an itinerant worker. He works both ranch jobs and labouring jobs.

And I can't see where you get a lack of imagination from. Imagination does not just come from books, and even if he had never read anything but Hamley's Catalogue, he could still have a vivid enough imagination. As Des said, he had a desire to be a sophomore, and it wasn't his fault he didn't achieve that. He clearly knows about some geography (the North Pole, the Equator) and is invoking a certain amount of imagination in that scene.

As for your last sentence, in this case it probably IS the fact that he is queer - and doesn't want to recognise that fact - which stops him moving anywhere with Jack, city or country. It's a bit like his excuses about his marriage, his kids, the child support - these are excuses to mask the real reason - he doesn't want to be queer.

And FWIW the Galapogos Islands move at about a rate of a couple of inches a year.  ;)

Mini, why so combative?
In describing Ennis as an "island in the sea" I was using the name given him by the author Annie Proulx. It is a significant name when attached to the character that she created, as no doubt is the name "Twist" when attached to Jack, but it is Ennis we are discussing here.
In giving the name Ennis (Ynnis) del Mar to her character she was describing to us a person who was incapable of moving very far in many ways, both practically and emotionally.
You seem to be suggesting that I have fabricated this notion based on his given name, but that is only part of the information we are given about him both in the narrative voice and in the characters own words.
I didn't feel that I would need to explain further to someone as well versed in the story as yourself, so I used just the name as a form of shorthand.
The further information comes in several ways, one is the song "Water Walking Jesus" which suggests that Jack must walk on water to get to Ennis, and is probably the only person who can. The next obvious one is Ennis own words " You know me Jack all the travelling I ever done was round the coffee pot looking for the handle."
There is also the complete stasis of the four years between the journey away from Brokeback and the reunion in which Ennis just sits tight and waits for Jack to find him.
There is the utter incredulity shown by Ennis at the suggestion of going to Mexico, and of course the impossibility of him imagining a life with Jack either in Denver or through a cow and calf operation.
Ennis is also unable to contemplate leaving ranching with its long hours and low pay to work for the power company. He would rather stick with what he knows.

As to lack of imagination, my reference was to the kind of imagination needed to envisage a life for him and Jack anywhere. He has no gay role models, he has nothing to base his dreams on, not from books or life experiences, other than one very bad one.
That is why he is stuck where he is.

It is possible to restrict these characters to two dimensions, and to make the story purely about homophobia. It is not. They are well rounded three dimensional people who live on the page because the writer and her vision were greater than that.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Desecra on October 21, 2008, 11:01:30 AM
But is the reason he won't go to Mexico really because he doesn't like travelling?   He's been travelling all his life.   He travels to get work.   He travels to see Jack.   They travel over a good part of the state by the sounds of it.   Why not go somewhere warmer?   It's obvious that 'Mexico' means something different to Ennis - it's 'the place'.

Now Ennis may have had all sorts of aspects of his character, fears, attitudes, etc., which would get in the way of a relationship with Jack, but when it comes down do it do you really think a dislike of travelling was the reason he wouldn't go to Denver or Mexico?   If he got over the dislike of travelling, would he have gone to Mexico?   Or, the other way round - if he got over the homophobia, if he felt OK about their relationship, would he still not have been able to go to Denver because he didn't like travelling, even if it was the only way he could be with Jack?   In the end, you keep coming back to the fear and shame as the overriding factors which kept them apart.   

I was thinking some more about this - why Jack didn't expand on the idea but dismissed it, and so on.   He must have known that Ennis wouldn't go for it.   So I suppose that one thing we are being told is that Jack knew right back then about Ennis's homophobia.  The clues are there in the conversation, but I thought Jack didn't pick up on them - that he put Ennis's reluctance down to fear, and only realised about the homophobia at the end.    But of course, that was no news, and Jack had been braced for it AND he'd noticed the lack of DEs.   So he was under no illusions.    He certainly guessed enough to deny his sexuality to Ennis.   

The confounding factor was the DE.   If Ennis could have held like that, then the homophobia can't go so deep, can it?   I think when he thinks about the DE at the end, what he really starts to understand is the reason the DE could have occurred then.   The lack of acceptance isn't news - it's just applying it to the DE that is new.    And he realises the DE could only occur because Ennis didn't know he was gay back then.

Which is followed by Ennis's similar thoughts about the punch, which was the point where that illusion was dispelled. 

In other words, over those 16 years Jack was quite aware that Ennis was homophobic and rejecting him, but he believes that he was good enough to break through at one point (the DE).   He has always known about the physical avoidance on Brokeback but not maybe thought too deeply about what it means - what it means in the end was that he wasn't good enough or worthy enough to be acceptable to Ennis - that he was only acceptable because of Ennis's denial.

It's not very different from what I've thought before - just a slightly different take on Jack's level of awareness about Ennis.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: janjo on October 21, 2008, 11:07:10 AM
No, not literally a fear of travelling, but a definite fear of change, and a definite inability to imagine living his life any other way than that set down for him by the society he lived in.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Desecra on October 21, 2008, 11:32:08 AM
But do you really think that was the problem?   
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: janjo on October 21, 2008, 11:48:58 AM
Well I certainly think that some positive gay male role models, who were successful and happy, particularly if they were working in the great outdoors with animals, would have been very helpful to Ennis.
Ennis is scared of lots of things, being gay is just one of them.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Desecra on October 21, 2008, 01:23:15 PM
He had Rich and Earl, but look what happened to them.   And the message is that that was very clearly because they were gay - no other reason.  So I don't see homophobia as being one of many issues which stand between Ennis and Jack and make a barrier to their love - it's THE issue.   The rest is incidental.  Fear of change, if it exists, could be overcome, unless you think their love just didn't make the grade.   

If you believe that Ennis was unaware/in denial on Brokeback (as I think you do), then Brokeback gives us a glimpse of what he was like without the homophobia.   It's there in the background, of course, influencing him and actually causing the denial.    But until the 'queer issue' comes up, he doesn't come across as outwardly fearful.   He's happy to change, and happy to break the rules, etc.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: janjo on October 21, 2008, 02:01:06 PM
That was why I said he could have done with some good role models other than Earl and Rich. Ennis didn't know of any happy successful settled gay men who had made it work, and at that time in Wyoming I don't expect there were many, it would be too risky for other men than Earl and Rich, and Jack and Ennis. In many parts it may still be to this day.
I do see homophobia as being one of many issues in the story. It is a major issue, but I also see Ennis as a man who would have curled up and died in the city, even if he had been with Jack. He would have lost the role that he spent all of his life trying to fit. It has to be remembered that he denied his love for Jack in order to try to live the life he thought a "cowboy," or rather a man in the mid west should live.
Keeping up that image was what lead to him and Jack not being able to be together.
Of course homophobia was part of that myth, but as I see it it is part of a complex social situation too.

The situation on Brokeback is seperate because there was no one there to see them. There was only Jack to impress, and Ennis certainly did that.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Sandy on October 21, 2008, 04:01:03 PM
But is the reason he won't go to Mexico really because he doesn't like travelling?   He's been travelling all his life.   He travels to get work.   He travels to see Jack.   They travel over a good part of the state by the sounds of it.   Why not go somewhere warmer?   It's obvious that 'Mexico' means something different to Ennis - it's 'the place'.

Now Ennis may have had all sorts of aspects of his character, fears, attitudes, etc., which would get in the way of a relationship with Jack, but when it comes down do it do you really think a dislike of travelling was the reason he wouldn't go to Denver or Mexico?   If he got over the dislike of travelling, would he have gone to Mexico?   Or, the other way round - if he got over the homophobia, if he felt OK about their relationship, would he still not have been able to go to Denver because he didn't like travelling, even if it was the only way he could be with Jack?   In the end, you keep coming back to the fear and shame as the overriding factors which kept them apart.   

~snip~
Des,

I'm being a buttinsky here. Ennis did indeed travel, but it was in a loop we call Wyoming. And I wonder if he ever made it to the big town of Sheridan.  :) He literally circumscribed his own world, which appears to have excluded Colorado, South Dakota, Montana, etc., not to mention Mexico.

He justified his travel by going from one job to another and, perhaps, by seeing his kids. And all his vacations (never with Alma and the kids) were fishing trips within Wyoming.

To the extent that Ennis did anything, he appears not to have acted without some sort of justification. In many ways, he justified his stoic and self-imposed deprivation maybe in an attempt to live up to what he likely thought his father, brother and family expected of him. He was hemmed in psychologically as well as geographically, and wasn't going anywhere.

Sandy
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Ministering angel on October 21, 2008, 06:25:56 PM
But all this is irrelevant to a certain degree. Once again, it matters not what they could do if they moved to a big city, or how they'd cope, or whether they were not much cop as rural workers. The real problem is that Ennis would not countenance such a move because that would entail living with a man and that would mean he's q****r.

So are you saying that there can be only one correct interpretation? That both explanations cannot apply to one and the same situation?


I'm saying that Ennis is a very layered character, even to himself. The obvious explanation is valid enough - he didn't have much going for him as a city dweller and would probably have disliked it, given his yearning for long-houred low-paid ranch work (although he could have commuted - Denver c.1967 wasn't exactly NYC), and if he'd taken the time to think about it, he might have said how he'd not fit city life. But the underneath layer is the homophobia.

So both explanations can be correct, and can apply, but one carries more weight than the other, given the setup of the story.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Ministering angel on October 21, 2008, 07:36:49 PM

Mini, why so combative?

I think it's one of those irregular verbs: I am conversing, you are debating, she is being combative.  ;) :D

Quote
In describing Ennis as an "island in the sea" I was using the name given him by the author Annie Proulx. It is a significant name when attached to the character that she created, as no doubt is the name "Twist" when attached to Jack, but it is Ennis we are discussing here.
In giving the name Ennis (Ynnis) del Mar to her character she was describing to us a person who was incapable of moving very far in many ways, both practically and emotionally.

This is the joy of giving characters meaningful names. If AP's major point with his name was to give him an aura of being unable to move, then she might easily have called him something like, say, Aaron Meadows, which would thus avoid the intrusion of ocean images which would appear to be discordant with the story's setting.

Ennis's name tells us far more than that he is unmoving (although I do agree that it is part of his nature. He moves, as I have said before, in big leaps followed by long periods where he settles and refuses to budge. Not sure how an island can move in big leaps  :D) His name ties in with a number of other themes, that of water-as-emotion, of loneliness and isolation, of the Aeneid imagery, etc.

Quote
You seem to be suggesting that I have fabricated this notion based on his given name, but that is only part of the information we are given about him both in the narrative voice and in the characters own words.
I didn't feel that I would need to explain further to someone as well versed in the story as yourself, so I used just the name as a form of shorthand.
The further information comes in several ways, one is the song "Water Walking Jesus" which suggests that Jack must walk on water to get to Ennis, and is probably the only person who can. The next obvious one is Ennis own words " You know me Jack all the travelling I ever done was round the coffee pot looking for the handle."
There is also the complete stasis of the four years between the journey away from Brokeback and the reunion in which Ennis just sits tight and waits for Jack to find him.
There is the utter incredulity shown by Ennis at the suggestion of going to Mexico, and of course the impossibility of him imagining a life with Jack either in Denver or through a cow and calf operation.

Yes, this is a nice list and it certainly indicates that Ennis is, surprise surprise, a poor Wyoming ranch hand with limited possibilities for leisure activities or job opportunities. But given his limitations, why is it that he does not then take up Jack's suggestion of a C&C op? He could stay in his home range and never have to smell petrol fumes. But he doesn't, not because he's an island in the sea but because he's a homophobic gay man who's in love with another man but can't admit it to himself.

Quote
Ennis is also unable to contemplate leaving ranching with its long hours and low pay to work for the power company. He would rather stick with what he knows.

Well, actually he DOES leave ranching and gets on the road crew. He gets back to ranching only after Alma leaves him. So he's capable of making a career change when he has to.

Quote
As to lack of imagination, my reference was to the kind of imagination needed to envisage a life for him and Jack anywhere. He has no gay role models, he has nothing to base his dreams on, not from books or life experiences, other than one very bad one.
That is why he is stuck where he is.

But his imagination is not what's holding him back. If he could contemplate living with Jack then he might be able to imagine how it would work out. But he never gets past first base. He cannot allow himself to imagine such a life because that means he's queer. It always comes back to that.

Quote
It is possible to restrict these characters to two dimensions, and to make the story purely about homophobia. It is not. They are well rounded three dimensional people who live on the page because the writer and her vision were greater than that.

I assume this is just a dig. As you well know, I see them as 3D characters. The story is not purely about homophobia, but I'd draw your attention to this passage from AP's recent interview:


The story, says Proulx, spine straight, hands slapping her knees for
emphasis, "was about homophobia in a place."


Homophobia is not just the background noise; it is an integral part of the story. Ennis's homophobia is what warps an otherwise touching love story into a tale of tragic consequences.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Ministering angel on October 21, 2008, 07:50:42 PM

I'm being a buttinsky here. Ennis did indeed travel, but it was in a loop we call Wyoming. And I wonder if he ever made it to the big town of Sheridan.  :) He literally circumscribed his own world, which appears to have excluded Colorado, South Dakota, Montana, etc., not to mention Mexico.


Actually, some of those mountain ranges jut into adjoining states. But you can't forget that Ennis was a ranch hand with financial responsibilities and very little time off. Realistically, he is not going to head off to Las Vegas for the weekend or spend a month in Hawaii. He's a guy with a truck and a couple of horses on the back and a week off here and there and very little money to spend. What is he going to do? He's already set his parameters in the motel - meeting now and again way the hell, etc. This isn't about lack of imagination or fear of flying or whatever; it's about doing what he must do, i.e. meeting Jack, but in a place where he could do it without fear of discover, and in conditions which recreated those on the mountain thus perpetuating the "straight friends" illusion.

The laundry list of mountain ranges tells me more about the desire to recreate BBM without ever actually chancing the real thing again, than it does about Ennis's inability to step outside his comfort zone. The motel and the cabin tell me he COULD step outside in unusual circumstances.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Desecra on October 21, 2008, 11:46:59 PM
Denver doesn't appear to me to be that far from Wyoming - if somebody could travel all round Wyoming, then surely they could consider Denver?  I'm sure that there ARE people who wouldn't travel outside their own state, even for a once in a lifetime love, but I don't think we're told that Ennis is one of them.   When Jack suggests living together, Ennis doesn't ask anything about the location - that's not the issue.   Then when Jack mentions Denver, he dismisses it - why?   What reason has he got to think Ennis wouldn't travel?  When Ennis refuses to go to Mexico then accuses Jack of going, is he really talking about Jack travelling too far?

Lots of love stories are about love set up against one particular obstacle or barrier.   We don't need to know that Romeo and Juliet would never have made it anyway because Romeo was scared of commitment and Juliet was excessively jealous.   Characters can be well rounded enough without having a series of other obstacles to their love.   But if you really believe they wouldn't have made it anyway, even if you could take away the homophobia, then what's the point of the story?   They were just a mismatched couple, with too many reasons to not be together, and a love which couldn't endure minor setbacks.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: janjo on October 22, 2008, 12:49:24 AM


The story, says Proulx, spine straight, hands slapping her knees for
emphasis, "was about homophobia in a place."



I don't think I at any place or any time ever said that it wasn't.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Ministering angel on October 22, 2008, 05:10:49 AM
I do feel, however, Janjo, that homophobia as a major shaper of the story is pushed further into the background by you than by me. It's the basis for what goes wrong, not just the scenery against which the story is played out.

To suggest that it plays a major part, that it drives the tragedy by warping J&E's actions, etc. is not to reduce them to 2D characters. Whenever the homophobia at the heart of the story is mentioned, this accusation about 2D characters is bound to follow eventually.

As Des said above, they don't need extra major barriers to their love.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Paul029 on October 22, 2008, 06:29:27 AM
My point, and I think Annie Proulx got there far ahead of me, is that Ennis del Mar, means "island in the sea."
Hi janjo : Not sure where I saw a reference to "Ynnis," [i.e. "Ennis"] but would love to ask: Is it related to "Ynnesuittron"?

Please say yes...
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Sandy on October 22, 2008, 08:41:46 AM
But all this is irrelevant to a certain degree. Once again, it matters not what they could do if they moved to a big city, or how they'd cope, or whether they were not much cop as rural workers. The real problem is that Ennis would not countenance such a move because that would entail living with a man and that would mean he's q****r.

So are you saying that there can be only one correct interpretation? That both explanations cannot apply to one and the same situation?


I'm saying that Ennis is a very layered character, even to himself. The obvious explanation is valid enough - he didn't have much going for him as a city dweller and would probably have disliked it, given his yearning for long-houred low-paid ranch work (although he could have commuted - Denver c.1967 wasn't exactly NYC), and if he'd taken the time to think about it, he might have said how he'd not fit city life. But the underneath layer is the homophobia.

So both explanations can be correct, and can apply, but one carries more weight than the other, given the setup of the story.

I'm not persuaded that the structure of the story privileges one explanation over the other. I think it explicitly allows for both, and requires both. The fact that Ennis might even have the slightest inkling that there are alternatives to the Rich and Earl scenario is, I think, needed to let us know that deep down, he realizes there are choices, and that he's chosing one path. If there were no awareness whatsoever of that alternative, then he would be just the product of his environment, with no potential to look beyond it. He would be more like an animal in a habitat than a man in a world. It's like the tension between the tire rim and the tire iron, which is needed to represent Ennis' doubts about something he can never know for sure.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: janjo on October 22, 2008, 11:35:15 AM
My point, and I think Annie Proulx got there far ahead of me, is that Ennis del Mar, means "island in the sea."
Hi janjo : Not sure where I saw a reference to "Ynnis," [i.e. "Ennis"] but would love to ask: Is it related to "Ynnesuittron"?

Please say yes...

Sorry Paul, I don't get that, am I being particularly thick?

Ynnis is Welsh for island as in Ynnis Mon for Angelsey, in Irish it is Innis, and there is a town in Ireland called Ennis.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Ministering angel on October 22, 2008, 03:47:12 PM
Brought over from Last Scene: Jack & Ennis Together thread.

I'm saying that it must have felt necessary for them to say it at some point, just to clear up any er..............misunderstandings! :D

I really am struggling with this. If they are both gay but pretending to be straight because they have been brought up to believe that it is a bad thing, then the idyll is based on a total falsehood, shored up by the INNQ statement. Then if they spend sixteen years trying to recapture that rapturous state, they are in fact trying to recapture a lie. But during the sixteen years they are still acting out the straight lie anyway. So are they trying to recapture a state of total ignorance?

When you watch Brokeback Mountain, are you able to suspend disbelief enough to go along with the story and enjoy it, or are you sitting there knowing that it is a peice of industrial cinema made by a big company, employing many hundreds of people in order to make money?
There are two ways of looking at all sorts of situations.
Jack and Ennis were able to be above the world, flying in the bitter euphoric air. Disbelief suspended.

Okay, janjo, the questions I was asking were prompted by your explanation about the INNQ comment. I was trying to ascertain how you saw it fitting in with what they were doing.

"Suspending disbelief" is an interesting phrase. Of course I suspend disbelief when watching movies, so long as they are good enough to overcome the barrier. BBM was one such film: when I watch it I am utterly transported. Same with the story: Jack and Ennis are real flesh and blood people to me.

But how do you see them suspending disbelief when on the mountain? (Let's stick with Ennis a while.) Is he suspending the disbelief that two straight men can have sex without trespassing into queer territory? What does he actually believe? (That's easier - too many negatives get confusing.) Does he believe that he is straight? If so, why does he feel the need to make the INNQ statement? Does that not cut through the wall of disbelief?

And if they are suspending disbelief, then what are they trying to recapture every time they go on a fishing trip?
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Ministering angel on October 22, 2008, 03:54:07 PM
My point, and I think Annie Proulx got there far ahead of me, is that Ennis del Mar, means "island in the sea."
Hi janjo : Not sure where I saw a reference to "Ynnis," [i.e. "Ennis"] but would love to ask: Is it related to "Ynnesuittron"?

Please say yes...

Paul, if you read the Symbolism & Imagery thread you will find all manner of opinions about Ennis's name, about the idea of shepherd idylls, about a heap of other stuff that might make your head spin. A few of us believe that much information is tucked away in the layers of symbolism which Annie Proulx has woven into the story. The film also contained lots of symbolism. One small example, since I'm off topic, is Mrs Twist's clothing - a blue cardigan (like Jack's shirt) over a plaid shirt (like Ennis's shirt) over a dress patterned with roses. The roses are a constant theme throughout the film, and the cardi and shirt combination indicates that Mrs Twist was fully aware of the shirts in Jack's room, just in case we needed telling.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: janjo on October 22, 2008, 04:02:43 PM
Ennis and Jack are just happy, in love, even if they wouldn't call it that, enjoying each others bodies, and having a wonderful time in innocence and purity. They are not rationalizing at all. They are above the world, above mundane affairs, that is the direct interpretation of the Greek idylls. A place where men are free of censure and can love in a natural and beautiful way, as part of the natural world.
Shepherds in Arcadia.
It may not be realistic, disbelief may have to be suspended, but that is how idylls work.
What are they trying to recreate?
The innocence that they knew then,
It can't be done.
They know now, and what is known can't be unknown.
That is why the punch is so important.
The moment of revelation which once experienced can never be unknown, no matter how hard one tries to deny it, and my didn't Ennis try!
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Ministering angel on October 22, 2008, 04:03:47 PM

I'm not persuaded that the structure of the story privileges one explanation over the other. I think it explicitly allows for both, and requires both. The fact that Ennis might even have the slightest inkling that there are alternatives to the Rich and Earl scenario is, I think, needed to let us know that deep down, he realizes there are choices, and that he's chosing one path. If there were no awareness whatsoever of that alternative, then he would be just the product of his environment, with no potential to look beyond it. He would be more like an animal in a habitat than a man in a world. It's like the tension between the tire rim and the tire iron, which is needed to represent Ennis' doubts about something he can never know for sure.

I don't think we're in violent disagreement here, but I do think that it's not just a case of Ennis seeing his choices and making the one he does. I think his choice is really no choice at all, since he views a life with Jack as a road to a nasty end. It depends on whether you see the story as hinging on Ennis's cowardice or on the effects of his warping childhood experience. Given that we aren't told he's a coward in any other way, I opt for the warping childhood experience, and so I believe that the structure of the story DOES lean towards one explanation over another.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Ministering angel on October 22, 2008, 04:07:48 PM
Ennis and Jack are just happy, in love, even if they wouldn't call it that, enjoying each others bodies, and having a wonderful time in innocence and purity. They are not rationalizing at all. They are above the world, above mundane affairs, that is the direct interpretation of the Greek idylls. A place where men are free of censure and can love in a natural and beautiful way, as part of the natural world.
Shepherds in Arcadia.
It may not be realistic, disbelief may have to be suspended, but that is how idylls work.
What are they trying to recreate?
The innocence that they knew then,
It can't be done.
They know now, and what is known can't be unknown.
That is why the punch is so important.
The moment of revelation which once experienced can never be unknown, no matter how hard one tries to deny it, and my didn't Ennis try!

Very pretty. I can see the garlands of flowers in their hair as we speak  :D :D

BUT, if it's so idyllic, why the need to state "I'm not no queer"? Why does it intrude at all? Surely the mere fact that Ennis utters those words indicates that they are NOT in a state of "innocence and purity".
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Paul029 on October 23, 2008, 01:07:07 AM
My point, and I think Annie Proulx got there far ahead of me, is that Ennis del Mar, means "island in the sea."
Hi janjo : Not sure where I saw a reference to "Ynnis," [i.e. "Ennis"] but would love to ask: Is it related to "Ynnesuittron"?

Please say yes...

Paul, if you read the Symbolism & Imagery thread you will find all manner of opinions about Ennis's name, about the idea of shepherd idylls, about a heap of other stuff that might make your head spin. A few of us believe that much information is tucked away in the layers of symbolism which Annie Proulx has woven into the story. The film also contained lots of symbolism. One small example, since I'm off topic, is Mrs Twist's clothing - a blue cardigan (like Jack's shirt) over a plaid shirt (like Ennis's shirt) over a dress patterned with roses. The roses are a constant theme throughout the film, and the cardi and shirt combination indicates that Mrs Twist was fully aware of the shirts in Jack's room, just in case we needed telling.
Thanks, Mini. I see I'll have to delve much deeper...
I was replying to Janjo's reference to "Ynnis" and the suggestion of an idyll, which probably would be better located on the other thread. My question about Ynnesuuitron [now correctly spelt  ;) ]- the Celtic version of Insula vitrea [or Island of Glass] was because it seemed to me that there's a clear connection between this ancient Celtic name [for what is now called Glastonbury], the word "island" and the name given to Ennis by AP. Don't know where I'm going with this; but it's a start... so will get my thoughts in order first, then jump into the "fray"...
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Paul029 on October 23, 2008, 01:30:13 AM
My point, and I think Annie Proulx got there far ahead of me, is that Ennis del Mar, means "island in the sea."
Hi janjo : Not sure where I saw a reference to "Ynnis," [i.e. "Ennis"] but would love to ask: Is it related to "Ynnesuittron"?

Please say yes...
Sorry Paul, I don't get that, am I being particularly thick? Ynnis is Welsh for island as in Ynnis Mon for Angelsey, in Irish it is Innis, and there is a town in Ireland called Ennis.
Hi Janjo, I didn't mean to sound obscure, or to suggest I knew more than you.

[I'm also just trying to work out what thread we're on here.]

I was hoping to confirm that Ynnis is also Celtic for "island," and I'd like to run some ideas past you which may validate your statement about an 'idyll' on BBM. The Classical myth of a Golden Age goes back to before Plato, and it would be interesting to see how AP has worked the concept into her story. I'm totally in favour of the few weeks spent on BBM being seen as an idyll, and/or a Paradise, and/or a Golden Age. Such an interpretation works even while AP has the men denying being 'queer,' I feel, which I think Mini may have presented as proof that the time on BB was not an idyll [apologies if I've misinterpreted your viewpoint, Mini; there's so much going on in this thread that it's hard to keep up and to absorb what is being "argued" about, let alone know where it's all heading]. It's certainly becoming passionate...
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: janjo on October 23, 2008, 05:02:50 AM
Thank you, Paul. I didn't know that was the Celtic name for Glastonbury, it is just the sort of fact I like too!
I agree with you completely that the "I'm not no queer" remark does not detract from the idyll. This is Annie Proulx, and she would like to insert a touch of reality into the situation, just to remind us that this is not a classic Greek idyll, but is set in 1960's Wyoming, but the symbolism, and the way the book is structured indicate strongly to me, that an idyll is what we are supposed to perceive here.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Paul029 on October 23, 2008, 05:24:56 AM
Thank you, Paul. I didn't know that was the Celtic name for Glastonbury, it is just the sort of fact I like too!
I agree with you completely that the "I'm not no queer" remark does not detract from the idyll. This is Annie Proulx, and she would like to insert a touch of reality into the situation, just to remind us that this is not a classic Greek idyll, but is set in 1960's Wyoming, but the symbolism, and the way the book is structured indicate strongly to me, that an idyll is what we are supposed to perceive here.
Thanks Janjo. I'd like to take this particular discussion further.

Although the Jack/Ennis relationship is involved here [and I'd like to get into that a little further, too, as well as the approaches taken by AP and A-L] the concept of an idyll [as well as that of a Paradise Lost - and the implication, by default, if you like, of a Paradise Gained, for its loss to make sense] perhaps we should consider continuing on the Symbolism and Imagery thread?

I totally agree with your comment about AP's insertion of a "touch of reality into the situation," and have an idea how it may still be relevant to [and within] an "idyllic" theme.  Putting it another way: by doing so she's actually reinforcing the concept of an idyll. How's that for starters?
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Paul029 on October 23, 2008, 05:55:45 AM
Ennis and Jack are just happy, in love, even if they wouldn't call it that, enjoying each others bodies, and having a wonderful time in innocence and purity. They are not rationalizing at all. They are above the world, above mundane affairs, that is the direct interpretation of the Greek idylls. A place where men are free of censure and can love in a natural and beautiful way, as part of the natural world.
Shepherds in Arcadia.
It may not be realistic, disbelief may have to be suspended, but that is how idylls work.
What are they trying to recreate?
The innocence that they knew then,
It can't be done.
They know now, and what is known can't be unknown.
That is why the punch is so important.
The moment of revelation which once experienced can never be unknown, no matter how hard one tries to deny it, and my didn't Ennis try!

Very pretty. I can see the garlands of flowers in their hair as we speak  :D :D

BUT, if it's so idyllic, why the need to state "I'm not no queer"? Why does it intrude at all? Surely the mere fact that Ennis utters those words indicates that they are NOT in a state of "innocence and purity".
I don't know, Mini,  whether "garlands of flowers in their hair' is a metaphor or not, but it's a nice concept... and a "state of innocence and purity" doesn't rule out an awareness that that state isn't necessarily ever-lasting. Perhaps AP is hinting that even in Paradise the "mundane affairs" referred to by Janjo have a way of permeating and eventually corrupting, even rotting, an idyll - or its recollection
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on October 23, 2008, 07:23:58 AM
If I may interject:

I do think the 'mundane' part is giving us a hint that it cannot ever be a true idyll; think of all the underlying stuff: Joe Aquirre spying on them-that is a pecursor to doom, of sort; Ennis putting Jack in the position of having to lie-'me neither, one shot thing, etc'. Ennis himself, jerking his hand back after Jack puts it on himself-that is a gesture of violence, a negative gesture; not an excited, happy one, IMO; Ennis always going back to the sheep, except the one night-and there was a minor catastrophe that followed it. There are too many happy things left out; as I said earlier, the euphoria is mostly about sexual discovery and the unexpected freedom of doing it with someone you care for. It is an unreal happiness-not the kind that brings communal peace.  If Ennis had been truly able to experience the feelings he had in a mature way, and to recognize them as love, without hang- ups,  I think Jack would've been happy, too, as a clam. But that single moment of artless happiness-the DE-as remembered by Jack as the only perfect moment,  stands exactly as the measure of the reality of what really happened up there; and is why Jack loses his abilty to hope anymore, because he loses the one and only thing he craved. He now has come to look back at the one moment-which is a shocker to us, really-and realizes, even THAT had an underlying condition.

I just don't see how this can be looked at as an actual idyll-I think the irony is that we are being shnookered, like both J and E, into thinking it was. As Ennis says in the prologue, '..when they owned the world and nothing seemed wrong.' People tend to disregard the fact that he does not say, 'when nothing was wrong.'
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: janjo on October 23, 2008, 07:49:41 AM
But that is it exactly CSI. "Nothing seemed wrong" because of the idyll, the magic, the innocence, when they came down to real life, everything seemed wrong, and the only way they could even approximate that time was "once in while way the hell out in the middle of nowhere." They never went back to Brokeback, they couldn't go back to Brokeback. In the words of the film trailer, "there are places we can never return," they could never be those two innocent happy, carefree, (comparatively), boys again.
If you don't understand why that phrase was used by the film makers, what do you think it means?
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Desecra on October 23, 2008, 10:49:38 AM
Actually, it's an interesting line for the film makers to use.   Unlike in the book, it seems that they DO physically return to Brokeback in the film.   So the use is purely metaphorical (instead of just partly metaphorical).     They never quite recapture Brokeback in the film either, but we're given different reasons.     Remember, there is the SNIT in the film, which couldn't happen in the book - in that sense, I suppose you could say that it was MORE of an idyll in the film.  Less 'innocence' and denial, but the more aware Ennis can have what's clearly 'gay' sex rather than limiting himself to the type of sex he'd expect straight men to have.   It depends which way you look at it.  So what is that they couldn't get back to?  I think Paul raised the question of whether we'd know, watching the film, that the DE was a one-off and only happened on Brokeback, and I'm not sure what the answer is (having read the book before the film).   If we were to really think it was the first of many expressions of love, then why do they want to return to that 'place' anyway?    I don't think that's the intention though. 

Where the film and book could coincide here, is over Ennis's attitude to Jack's sexuality.    That's very similar between the two.    Maybe it's possible that although film Ennis knows they are doing something gay (hence the need to deny he's gay to Jack), he actually believes Jack's denial - they are two straight guys in the same position.   It's only afterwards that he realises Jack is gay - and the Mexico argument is much the same (the 'boys like you' makes it clear it's about sexuality rather than jealousy in the film).   So maybe that's the 'place' that they can't get back to - the place where Ennis believed Jack was straight.   Which is pretty much the same place that they can't get back to in the book.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Paul029 on October 23, 2008, 12:22:43 PM
Ennis and Jack are just happy, in love, even if they wouldn't call it that, enjoying each others bodies, and having a wonderful time in innocence and purity. They are not rationalizing at all. They are above the world, above mundane affairs, that is the direct interpretation of the Greek idylls. A place where men are free of censure and can love in a natural and beautiful way, as part of the natural world.
Shepherds in Arcadia.
It may not be realistic, disbelief may have to be suspended, but that is how idylls work.
Absolutely, janjo. Loved the reference to mundane affairs [especially as they are literally, as well as metaphorically, "above" the world of everyday life and its run-of-the-mill regime]. Up on Brokeback they can recreate their own private version of Eden before the Fall, their Paradise Gained. Yep, and sexuality has nothing to do with it, despite APs giving Ennis some slight misgivings after FNIT - a reasonable gift, I suppose, as he's new to "all this." While SNIT shows he's initially a bit hesitant (which is understandable when one is being introduced to a totally novel sexual situation, I'd say; and both men seem to have acquired a rather child-like innocence in the scene] he's accepting of Jack's demonstration of sincere tenderness. And I do think Jack is sincere - it's not just the sex he's interested in in SNIT - for all we know they just have a nice, affectionate cuddle then drift off the sleep; a perfectly-in-tune response to the mood of the scene - tender, warm and loving. Very idyllic.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Desecra on October 23, 2008, 01:01:51 PM
It's Ang Lee who makes Ennis hesitant, not Annie Proulx :).   I don't think it's possible to combine the film version and book version here (I've tried).   I agree that Jack isn't just interested in the sex - book or film.  In the book in particular, it's the DE that stands out - a sexless, tender, loving moment.  And in the film, the SNIT is tender and romantic - not the quick, rough sex of the book.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Dal on October 23, 2008, 02:48:44 PM
~Actually, some of those mountain ranges jut into adjoining states.~
They packed into the "south end of the Gallatins" -- the "end" within Wyoming. 

I believe we are meant to take it that they stayed in-state all those years.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Ministering angel on October 23, 2008, 03:28:38 PM
Oh Dal, don't make me get the atlas out again! I recall plotting the ranges mentioned, and something gave me the impression that Ennis might have got his toe over the state line on one or two occasions.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Ministering angel on October 23, 2008, 03:47:34 PM
Paul, to a certain extent, all this talk about idylls and the time on Brokeback is meaningless unless you have some knowledge of previous discussions, since those of us who are arguing are sharply divided over one particular issue which cannot be mentioned. There is a now-locked thread HERE (http://www.davecullen.com/forum/index.php?topic=12935.msg465488#msg465488) (where the blood has probably coagulated by now) and you can find a summary of one side of the argument HERE (http://brokebackkiss.livejournal.com). If you want a summary of the other side --- I don't know what you can do - go to Denver, perhaps  ;)

The issue hinges on that darned Dozy Embrace, the description of which in the short story ends with the lines "Nothing marred it, even the knowledge that Ennis would not then embrace him face to face because he did not want to see nor feel that it was Jack he held. And maybe, he thought, they'd never got much further than that. Let be, let be."

The DE in the film gives no hint of this, and the insertion of SNIT rules it out anyway as a physical fact, but it's in the SS and whether you read it as metaphor, as the literal truth, or as both, it can't be ignored, especially given its placement right after the argument.

Look, mods! I didn't break a single eggshell! :)
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: janjo on October 23, 2008, 04:22:36 PM
I am not at all sure that there can be no discussion of idylls without mentioning the banned topic, Mini. Plenty of other writers seem able to draw parallels between Jack and Ennis time on Brokeback and classical idylls, who have never heard of our little disagreement.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Ministering angel on October 23, 2008, 04:26:42 PM
That wasn't my point. I was referring to the discussion on this forum and this set of threads.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Sandy on October 23, 2008, 05:44:11 PM
Ah, "mention" versus "use." There's an entire philosophical literature on the distinction. Best not to create an occasion for your moderators to invoke it.   ;)
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on October 23, 2008, 06:29:32 PM
But that is it exactly CSI. "Nothing seemed wrong" because of the idyll, the magic, the innocence, when they came down to real life, everything seemed wrong, and the only way they could even approximate that time was "once in while way the hell out in the middle of nowhere." They never went back to Brokeback, they couldn't go back to Brokeback. In the words of the film trailer, "there are places we can never return," they could never be those two innocent happy, carefree, (comparatively), boys again.
If you don't understand why that phrase was used by the film makers, what do you think it means?
right, nothing seemed wrong..I suppose we could get philosophical, and see it in terms of the the tree in the forest, not making a sound if no one is there to hear it fall:  If Ennis thinks it was idyllic, does that make it idyllic?. But I think the point is also about the underlying issues. In reality, he just ignored them-but, he recognizes them later.And we find out later, for Jack, the single moment was in his heart long enough to solidify. So it begs the question: Was it ever an idyll for Jack? And for us, once we know what actually happened here and there on BBM, would we see it as one?
Just some thawts.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Desecra on October 23, 2008, 08:02:46 PM
Maybe in the film, yes (but still, Jack isn't too pleased that Brokeback's all they got).    In the book, no.   There's that one perfect moment, but the rest must have been confusing.   Even for Ennis .... it's the single moment of artless, charmed happiness for both of them.   Even Ennis felt euphoria but not artless, charmed happiness. 
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Ministering angel on October 23, 2008, 08:22:08 PM
Yes. A feeling of euphoria can come from doing something wrong too. I always remember that they are flying in the euphoric bitter air. Always the sting.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Ministering angel on October 23, 2008, 08:33:24 PM
I am not at all sure that there can be no discussion of idylls without mentioning the banned topic, Mini. Plenty of other writers seem able to draw parallels between Jack and Ennis time on Brokeback and classical idylls, who have never heard of our little disagreement.


And banned topics aside, there's also the major problem of Ennis not wanting to embrace Jack face to face, etc. Sometimes when we get onto idylls and all that, the minor inconvenience of not wanting to know that the person you are holding is the person you are holding gets forgotten about. However much emphasis anyone places on this point, it is still a warping thing, a discordant note in the middle of this supposed idyllic time. And not just in that time, but also in Jack's most treasured memory.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Desecra on October 24, 2008, 12:41:55 AM
That's the killer, isn't it?   You can (and do) brush off the hints earlier in the story, but that line leaves no doubt that it wasn't a perfect idyll.   (Or at the very least, that it's not remembered that way by Jack). 
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Paul029 on October 24, 2008, 02:36:57 AM
Paul, to a certain extent, all this talk about idylls and the time on Brokeback is meaningless unless you have some knowledge of previous discussions, since those of us who are arguing are sharply divided over one particular issue which cannot be mentioned. There is a now-locked thread HERE (http://www.davecullen.com/forum/index.php?topic=12935.msg465488#msg465488) (where the blood has probably coagulated by now) and you can find a summary of one side of the argument HERE (http://brokebackkiss.livejournal.com). If you want a summary of the other side --- I don't know what you can do - go to Denver, perhaps;)
Thanks for the links, Mini. The first thread is certainly an eye-opener [I read several pages at the beginning and several at the end], with passionate and feisty discourse [thought I'd use a polite word] and the second was also very informative, shining new light on the SS.

However, and please pardon me for saying so, I thought the implication in your first sentence was rather unsettling. I trust you didn't mean that late-comers to the forum must always read the [hundreds of?] thousands of previously-made posts to get up to speed, and that your reference applied only to the "idyll" issue. If the former, perhaps the moderators should advise late-comers of such a requirement, or even ban late-comers altogether because they wouldn't have a clue about what's been thoroughly thrashed out during the past two years. Being a late-comer myself I already feel a little out-of-touch when trying to add my own humble thoughts about BBM. [No hard feelings, Mini, by the way  :)]

Quote
The issue hinges on that darned Dozy Embrace, the description of which in the short story ends with the lines "Nothing marred it, even the knowledge that Ennis would not then embrace him face to face because he did not want to see nor feel that it was Jack he held. And maybe, he thought, they'd never got much further than that. Let be, let be."

The DE in the film gives no hint of this, and the insertion of SNIT rules it out anyway as a physical fact, but it's in the SS and whether you read it as metaphor, as the literal truth, or as both, it can't be ignored, especially given its placement right after the argument.
I recall I mentioned in my inaugural post that I would focus upon the film version of BBM rather than the SS, or things said in interviews. More recently I rhetorically asked whether or not it could be assumed that viewers of the film had read the SS. In my own case I had, but have also re-read it since my several viewings of the film. The thread topic doesn't seem to stipulate that posts must also discuss what's in the SS, so unless I'm mistaken, discussion could relate solely to what is shown in the film version. Whatever the case may be, that is what I've been doing, so please forgive me if I "seem" blind to elements presented in the SS.

While I take your point that the SS certainly adds another dimension to understanding the film, I see no harm in discussing only what is presented in the film and leaving the SS's implications for another time.

My understanding of the flashback [the affectionate embrace between Jack and Ennis] is that it's Jack's "summing up," if you like, of their time on the mountain. Its placement after their argument, after which they never meet again, encapsulates their relationship on BBM in 1963. Ennis rides off on his horse to tend the sheep, saying "See you for supper" - in contrast to his [presumably?] speechless departure after the argument, which Jack watches with regret. [I've mentioned this in another post.] And there's no indication in the film that the embrace was a once-only event; it could have been a "regular?" thing whenever Ennis left the camp to watch the sheep.

While I feel the "idyll' issue is still pertinent to the two men's relationship, perhaps I should temporarily withdraw from this discussion if consensus opinion indicates that I should include references to the SS.  I don't mind lurking and just seeing how things are going...

Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Tammy on October 24, 2008, 02:44:49 AM
Ennis's departure after FNIT is indeed speechless, as it is Jack who says "See you for supper."

Just thought I'd mention that.   :)
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: janjo on October 24, 2008, 03:32:03 AM


I am very concerned here that Paul has been made to feel he is not able to, at least temporarily, join in this discussion, because he hasn't been a party to our long and acrimonious discussion of "no face to face."
Paul has been sensitive and interested enough to try and read and understand the argument, but has come to the conclusion, as so many of us do, that although the book and the film have many differences, the general thrust and intention are the same in both pieces of art.
The discussion of idylls and of biblical symbolism was very interesting, and has been chosen and discussed by both Eric Patterson in "On Brokeback Mountain, and other writers in "Reading Brokeback Mountain," who also had no knowledge or had not discerned the possibility of, the "no face to face" as a physical possibility.
Paul has shaken us out of our rut and has made us think anew, he has posed interesting questions and possibilities.
I think to suggest to him that unless he climbs into our rut with us and joins in with our tired old argument that his views are not valuable is very disrespectful and presumptuous.

 
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Desecra on October 24, 2008, 03:37:35 AM
Paul, it's perfectly fine to only talk about the film and not the book.   There are other posters who here who do that do.   In fact, I'd say that when I joined the forum the focus was almost entirely on the film.   Months down the line, some forum members had the opportunity to meet Annie Proulx herself and ask questions, and I think that in particular started us down the line of focussing more on the book.   Amongst other things she singled out a 'scene' which did not make it to the film as being key - so it was impossible to talk about the book and film as one.  

And I think that's at the heart of some of the more contentious issues here.   Some people tend to use the film as their template, and some use the book.   But really, they can't be reconciled, and you can't 'apply' one to the other.   I recently had a short discussion with Janjo (I can't remember if it was this thread) where my main disagreement was that I felt she was applying her thoughtful interpretation of the film to the book, rather than looking at the book separately.     I read the book first, so that tends to be my template, and I'm sure she (or anyone) could point out plenty of times when I've applied my interpretation of the book to the film.    Your point about the 'dozy embrace' is a case in point.   I would say that it only happened once even when talking about the film.    You could say that we are not told that it happened only once and that I am applying my interpretation of the book to the film - and you would be absolutely right.   (You haven't been guilty of this at all, because you've stuck with the film rather than applying it to the book).

I think that's at the basis of many disagreements here.    

I can't speak for Ministering Angel, but I think she was giving you a heads up that this subject is one of the many seemingly innocent ones which are touched by that disagreement between interpretations of book and film (and in particular, one major difference between book and film, which she linked to the discussion of).   Of course late comers shouldn't be expected to read the discussion before commenting.   In fact, there's probably a lot to be said for giving your opinion before you wade through all that stuff - it's great to get a fresh perspective.  (The only problem is when new people inadvertently bring up a banned subject).  

So please do carry on with the discussion.   You have been bringing up some really interesting points.   Some of us will still be referring to the book and some to the film, so you might have to pick and choose a bit :).  
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Desecra on October 24, 2008, 03:43:14 AM
Ennis's departure after FNIT is indeed speechless, as it is Jack who says "See you for supper."

Just thought I'd mention that.   :)

Yes, you're right.   Things aren't quite perfect in the film either.   You do get the impression that Ennis feels ashamed after the FNIT.   Jack looks anxious when Ennis rides off and Ennis does nothing to reassure him.   Ennis seems to need to go away and think and find a way to accomodate what's happened and what he feels.    He eventually returns to Jack and seems to be setting out the conditions under which they can continue - they're not 'queer'.   After that, it's more idyllic.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Ministering angel on October 24, 2008, 05:21:44 AM
Des, I thought you spoke very well for me. As you point out, what appears to be a simple enough discussion of, say, idylls, has throwbacks to previous discussions. I really don't know how else to point this out to a newcomer.

We love newcomers, no doubt about it, but it feels a little bit uncomfortable to me to be deep in some subject that has a whole background of discussion while sort of pretending it's all being argued afresh. There's so much subtext going on that I suspect a newbie would wonder what the hell is going on at times.

Janjo, the people you mention who discuss idylls in other books are utilising the book anyway. I'm not sure you could strongly argue the idyll idea from the film alone. Ennis is far too obviously wrestling with his devils for it to be a simple idyll.

Tammy, you made an excellent point on the Topic thread that if Jack had experienced SNIT then the DE might have serious competition as his shining moment, since SNIT would have to be a real breakthrough night for them both.

So that's two major ways in which the film and story don't agree, and to argue about idylls without distinguishing the medium is a little distracting.

I don't know how to resolve this issue of old subjects and new posters but I do feel that some mention should be made of what has gone before, especially in subjects like this particular one. Perhaps our mods could suggest something.

Paul, you'll note in my troubling first sentence that I suggested some knowledge would be helpful. I would never expect anyone to read everything which has gone before on any thread. It was meant as a helpful suggestion rather than a reading prerequisite.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Paul029 on October 24, 2008, 06:12:20 AM
Ennis's departure after FNIT is indeed speechless, as it is Jack who says "See you for supper."
Just thought I'd mention that.   :)
Hello Tammy,
We've not "met" before, and thank you for alerting me [inadvertently, I realise] to an error on my part.

I wasn't talking about what happened after FNIT, but what was said during the flashback scene, which I actually misquoted.

I should have checked what was actually said, and I've now done so.
After the flash-back embrace in the movie Ennis says: "I gotta go. See you in the mornin'..." then rides off.
So they've had their supper and he's off to look after the sheep, and sleep in the pup-tent.


Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: janjo on October 24, 2008, 06:42:51 AM


Janjo, the people you mention who discuss idylls in other books are utilising the book anyway. I'm not sure you could strongly argue the idyll idea from the film alone. Ennis is far too obviously wrestling with his devils for it to be a simple idyll.


Yes, of course, Mini, but so am I. The book does not in my opinion tell a different story to the film. There are differences, of course there are, the timeline of Ennis realisation is different because the motel conversation in different, something Annie Proulx had grave doubts about, but I have never heard her express any unhappiness about changes made in any other parts of the film, because on the whole they are quite subtle and do not threaten the integrity of her story.
The story on it's own can be misread as saying things that are not shown in the film. But it does have to be misread in order for this difference to be found.
No one could fully understand the impact of the idyll or the biblical symbolism without reading the book, most of those references would be missed if watching the film as a single entity.
Paul has both seen the film and read the book, and come to certain conclusions, as have I, and the writers I mentioned in my previous posting. It is truly not necessary to know about the "face to face" disagreement to have intelligent and thoughtful things to say about idylls and biblical imagery in the story.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Paul029 on October 24, 2008, 07:18:15 AM
Paul, it's perfectly fine to only talk about the film and not the book [but] it's impossible to talk about the book and film as one... I think that's at the heart of some of the more contentious issues here.   Some people tend to use the film as their template, and some use the book.   But really, they can't be reconciled, and you can't 'apply' one to the other...Your point about the 'dozy embrace' is a case in point.   I would say that it only happened once even when talking about the film.    You could say that we are not told that it happened only once and that I am applying my interpretation of the book to the film - and you would be absolutely right.   (You haven't been guilty of this at all, because you've stuck with the film rather than applying it to the book).
Thanks, Desecra.
[I hope you don't mind me selectively editing the above quotation.] Your points clarify what has been, for me, a rather contentious issue - should I discuss the film, or the book, or both? My initial decision on joining the forum was to focus on the film, rather than the short story, and while the latter certainly casts different lights upon what occurs in the film, I found that my first intention was better for me. I admit I found it rather difficult to "ignore" things that I knew from the SS, and as the film was really a stand-alone entity, worthy of discussion on its own merits, I had to perform some serious mental juggling acts to keep my perceptions of the two from intermingling. I think I've managed to do that, so far...
Quote
...So please do carry on with the discussion.   You have been bringing up some really interesting points.
Its nice to know that's still possible... and thanks for the encouragement. I wouldn't like to be known as a "sourpuss."  [I really wouldn't have minded watching all the antics from afar...]
Quote
I can't speak for Ministering Angel, but I think she was giving you a heads up that this subject is one of the many seemingly innocent ones which are touched by that disagreement between interpretations of book and film (and in particular, one major difference between book and film, which she linked to the discussion of).
I thought as much but wanted to politely ask for confirmation.
Quote
Of course late comers shouldn't be expected to read the discussion before commenting.   In fact, there's probably a lot to be said for giving your opinion before you wade through all that stuff - it's great to get a fresh perspective.
"Wade through" is a nice way of putting it - I felt as if I was sinking into quicksand... what a tangled web it was...
Quote
(The only problem is when new people inadvertently bring up a banned subject).
So now face to face kissing between men is banned?  What has the world come to? 
Quote
Some of us will still be referring to the book and some to the film, so you might have to pick and choose a bit :).
What fun I will have :D
Thanks, Des.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Paul029 on October 24, 2008, 07:36:32 AM
I am very concerned here that Paul has been made to feel he is not able to, at least temporarily, join in this discussion, because he hasn't been a party to our long and acrimonious discussion of "no face to face."
Paul has been sensitive and interested enough to try and read and understand the argument, but has come to the conclusion, as so many of us do, that although the book and the film have many differences, the general thrust and intention are the same in both pieces of art.
The discussion of idylls and of biblical symbolism was very interesting, and has been chosen and discussed by both Eric Patterson in "On Brokeback Mountain, and other writers in "Reading Brokeback Mountain," who also had no knowledge or had not discerned the possibility of, the "no face to face" as a physical possibility.
Paul has shaken us out of our rut and has made us think anew, he has posed interesting questions and possibilities.
I think to suggest to him that unless he climbs into our rut with us and joins in with our tired old argument that his views are not valuable is very disrespectful and presumptuous.
Thank you, Janjo. I had no idea my humble remarks had made anyone "think anew," so I'm grateful for your support [there's no smiley for a blush].

All I've been attempting to do was to contribute to a discussion in which, apparently, so much had already been analysed to bits, that I felt my ideas wouldn't stand a chance in Hell.  So it's comforting to know that a late-comer can still contribute...
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Paul029 on October 24, 2008, 07:46:18 AM
Des, I thought you spoke very well for me. As you point out, what appears to be a simple enough discussion of, say, idylls, has throwbacks to previous discussions. I really don't know how else to point this out to a newcomer.
We love newcomers, no doubt about it, but it feels a little bit uncomfortable to me to be deep in some subject that has a whole background of discussion while sort of pretending it's all being argued afresh. There's so much subtext going on that I suspect a newbie would wonder what the hell is going on at times.
Paul, you'll note in my troubling first sentence that I suggested some knowledge would be helpful. I would never expect anyone to read everything which has gone before on any thread. It was meant as a helpful suggestion rather than a reading prerequisite.
Thanks Mini - That's good to know... and I appreciate the quandary in which newcomers/late-comers place you and other posters.
As I said:
Quote
Being a late-comer myself I already feel a little out-of-touch when trying to add my own humble thoughts about BBM. [No hard feelings, Mini, by the way  ]
  I just wanted reassurance about my input.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Tammy on October 24, 2008, 08:40:54 AM
Ennis's departure after FNIT is indeed speechless, as it is Jack who says "See you for supper."
Just thought I'd mention that.   :)
Hello Tammy,
We've not "met" before, and thank you for alerting me [inadvertently, I realise] to an error on my part.

I wasn't talking about what happened after FNIT, but what was said during the flashback scene, which I actually misquoted.

I should have checked what was actually said, and I've now done so.
After the flash-back embrace in the movie Ennis says: "I gotta go. See you in the mornin'..." then rides off.
So they've had their supper and he's off to look after the sheep, and sleep in the pup-tent.




Oh my goodness, no problem!  Glad to have you here.   ;D
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Paul029 on October 24, 2008, 08:42:03 AM
No one could fully understand the impact of the idyll or the biblical symbolism without reading the book, most of those references would be missed if watching the film as a single entity.
Paul has both seen the film and read the book, and come to certain conclusions, as have I, and the writers I mentioned in my previous posting. It is truly not necessary to know about the "face to face" disagreement to have intelligent and thoughtful things to say about idylls and biblical imagery in the story.
I'm very sorry, Janjo, that I don't agree with you 100% here.
The conclusions to which I came were based solely on my viewings of the film, and were not derived from anything, to my knowledge, in AP's story [which doesn't discount anything subliminal; and as far as that's concerned, it's out of my control anyway, so, hopefully, I'm exonerated].

I think I can say, however, that the references in the film were clear to me only when certain mental links had been made [it's not often that such links are immediately apparent when watching a film].

Some clues were certainly provided by your references to Ynnis [and what I've read on other posts about "island in the sea"] and 'idyll,' which prompted my mind to start "ticking over" about possible connections between the [first part of the] film and Edenic symbolism.

Whether they're connections back to the SS or not, I feel that the film does contain pertinent, in-built and subtle analogies to the Christian Eden and the pagan Golden Age [and off I go again...]
It is truly not necessary to know about the "face to face" disagreement to have intelligent and thoughtful things to say about idylls and biblical imagery in the story.
I think I know to what this issue relates, and so will accordingly discount it [ ;)] but it's clear to me that Biblical and Edenic imagery is "rife" in the film.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Sandy on October 24, 2008, 08:48:02 AM
~snip~
However, and please pardon me for saying so, I thought the implication in your first sentence was rather unsettling. I trust you didn't mean that late-comers to the forum must always read the [hundreds of?] thousands of previously-made posts to get up to speed, and that your reference applied only to the "idyll" issue. If the former, perhaps the moderators should advise late-comers of such a requirement, or even ban late-comers altogether because they wouldn't have a clue about what's been thoroughly thrashed out during the past two years. Being a late-comer myself I already feel a little out-of-touch when trying to add my own humble thoughts about BBM. [No hard feelings, Mini, by the way  :)]

What the moderators have to say:

The forum does not require that newcomers read all the previous material written on a thread before they post (it may preserve your sanity not to have read all that). We welcome new posters and their viewpoints.

Nor are the contents of old debates necessarily helpful in current discussions, as opinions and judgments do change over time. Neither are the results of old debates as conclusive as they are sometimes made out to be; in fact, current references to old "conclusions" are almost a guarantee that no consensus was ever reached.

So whenever you read "but, we can all agree," "it is generally accepted," "we have collectively shown," and their ilk, put your hand on your wallet, and make your argument.

As for the veterans, please allow our newcomers some room to breathe and develop their ideas. Strange as it sounds, inundating new posters with lots of links to bygone theories, cross references to well-trod arguments and innuendoes to mysteries long-ago plumbed may not be helpful.

Penultimately, please refrain from commenting on these suggestions on open thread.

Finally, as you were and enjoy the discussion.


Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Paul029 on October 24, 2008, 09:33:17 AM
Ennis's departure after FNIT is indeed speechless, as it is Jack who says "See you for supper."
Just thought I'd mention that.   :)
Hello Tammy,
We've not "met" before, and thank you for alerting me [inadvertently, I realise] to an error on my part.

I wasn't talking about what happened after FNIT, but what was said during the flashback scene, which I actually misquoted.

I should have checked what was actually said, and I've now done so.
After the flash-back embrace in the movie Ennis says: "I gotta go. See you in the mornin'..." then rides off.
So they've had their supper and he's off to look after the sheep, and sleep in the pup-tent.
Oh my goodness, no problem!  Glad to have you here.   ;D
Thanks,Tammy,
You sound delightful. I'm glad you're glad I'm here, too  :)  ;D ;D ;D
Paul
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: janjo on October 24, 2008, 10:35:33 AM
No one could fully understand the impact of the idyll or the biblical symbolism without reading the book, most of those references would be missed if watching the film as a single entity.
Paul has both seen the film and read the book, and come to certain conclusions, as have I, and the writers I mentioned in my previous posting. It is truly not necessary to know about the "face to face" disagreement to have intelligent and thoughtful things to say about idylls and biblical imagery in the story.
I'm very sorry, Janjo, that I don't agree with you 100% here.
The conclusions to which I came were based solely on my viewings of the film, and were not derived from anything, to my knowledge, in AP's story [which doesn't discount anything subliminal; and as far as that's concerned, it's out of my control anyway, so, hopefully, I'm exonerated].

I think I can say, however, that the references in the film were clear to me only when certain mental links had been made [it's not often that such links are immediately apparent when watching a film].

Some clues were certainly provided by your references to Ynnis [and what I've read on other posts about "island in the sea"] and 'idyll,' which prompted my mind to start "ticking over" about possible connections between the [first part of the] film and Edenic symbolism.

Whether they're connections back to the SS or not, I feel that the film does contain pertinent, in-built and subtle analogies to the Christian Eden and the pagan Golden Age [and off I go again...]
It is truly not necessary to know about the "face to face" disagreement to have intelligent and thoughtful things to say about idylls and biblical imagery in the story.
I think I know to what this issue relates, and so will accordingly discount it [ ;)] but it's clear to me that Biblical and Edenic imagery is "rife" in the film.

Oh I agree Paul, I see it now, but when I first saw the film I didn't. It may be that I am not smart enough, or that I was too upset and in shock to see anything but the emotional side of the film. It was only after reading the SS and then cogitating and discussing that I was truly hit by all the symbolism, and then having done further research even started to begin to truly understand it.
It absolutely is all there.
That Ang Lee is a master.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Ministering angel on October 24, 2008, 04:20:14 PM


Janjo, the people you mention who discuss idylls in other books are utilising the book anyway. I'm not sure you could strongly argue the idyll idea from the film alone. Ennis is far too obviously wrestling with his devils for it to be a simple idyll.


Yes, of course, Mini, but so am I. The book does not in my opinion tell a different story to the film. There are differences, of course there are, the timeline of Ennis realisation is different because the motel conversation in different, something Annie Proulx had grave doubts about, but I have never heard her express any unhappiness about changes made in any other parts of the film, because on the whole they are quite subtle and do not threaten the integrity of her story.
The story on it's own can be misread as saying things that are not shown in the film. But it does have to be misread in order for this difference to be found.

No one could fully understand the impact of the idyll or the biblical symbolism without reading the book, most of those references would be missed if watching the film as a single entity.
Paul has both seen the film and read the book, and come to certain conclusions, as have I, and the writers I mentioned in my previous posting. It is truly not necessary to know about the "face to face" disagreement to have intelligent and thoughtful things to say about idylls and biblical imagery in the story.

Could we just agree that people have different interpretations? To say that someone misreads the story is not helpful. We all know what AP has said about her work, that a story is not finished until it's been read, etc. and if I or anyone else reads BBM and draws different conclusions to you, that is not the same as misreading it.

To get back to the subject in hand, if you read the time on the mountain as a pure idyll and I think that AP is setting up a false impression, who is to say who is "right" and who is "wrong"?  Only AP could do that, assuming there IS a right and wrong. She doesn't say anything much so we'll just have to assume that no-one can be categorically labelled as wrong, as misreading the story.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Desecra on October 25, 2008, 12:13:32 AM
I'm not familiar with the idylls, but I'm happy to accept that Annie Proulx intended to bring them to mind for more well-read readers than me.  I'm sure there are loads of allusions that I miss - another reason why I'm rarely seen on S&I.    But I don't think these allusions are really meant to make us discount the rest of the story.    The story tells us that things weren't perfect on Brokeback.   I don't think the allusion stands up against that (i.e. we're not meant to think that it really was perfect because we also think of an idyll).    Allusion or not, we're given a false impression of what happens on Brokeback when we first read about it.   It's only as the story goes on that we're given dribs and drabs of very important stuff which tells us what was REALLY going on.    And the idyll allusion could be part of that same thing - we're shown that it appears like an idyll, and later we find out what really happened.   I don't see why the allusion has to discount the later information. 
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: janjo on October 25, 2008, 05:46:57 AM


Janjo, the people you mention who discuss idylls in other books are utilising the book anyway. I'm not sure you could strongly argue the idyll idea from the film alone. Ennis is far too obviously wrestling with his devils for it to be a simple idyll.


Yes, of course, Mini, but so am I. The book does not in my opinion tell a different story to the film. There are differences, of course there are, the timeline of Ennis realisation is different because the motel conversation in different, something Annie Proulx had grave doubts about, but I have never heard her express any unhappiness about changes made in any other parts of the film, because on the whole they are quite subtle and do not threaten the integrity of her story.
The story on it's own can be misread as saying things that are not shown in the film. But it does have to be misread in order for this difference to be found.

No one could fully understand the impact of the idyll or the biblical symbolism without reading the book, most of those references would be missed if watching the film as a single entity.
Paul has both seen the film and read the book, and come to certain conclusions, as have I, and the writers I mentioned in my previous posting. It is truly not necessary to know about the "face to face" disagreement to have intelligent and thoughtful things to say about idylls and biblical imagery in the story.

Could we just agree that people have different interpretations? To say that someone misreads the story is not helpful. We all know what AP has said about her work, that a story is not finished until it's been read, etc. and if I or anyone else reads BBM and draws different conclusions to you, that is not the same as misreading it.

To get back to the subject in hand, if you read the time on the mountain as a pure idyll and I think that AP is setting up a false impression, who is to say who is "right" and who is "wrong"?  Only AP could do that, assuming there IS a right and wrong. She doesn't say anything much so we'll just have to assume that no-one can be categorically labelled as wrong, as misreading the story.

There are many things we have to work out for ourselves in all of Annie Proulx's writing, and she demands it should be so. There is much in this story that we must decide for ourselves, such as did Jack quit Ennis, how did Jack die, etc. etc. Obviously we must all make up our own minds on our interpretations, however we do need a clear basis from which to start and so I stand by my previous remarks.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Desecra on October 25, 2008, 09:39:15 AM
I'm not as well read as most of you, I think, but I have read the bible so I do see the Eden allusion.     But although I can see it there, I don't have to then take the story as a retelling of the Eden story, or to dismiss parts of the story that don't fit with that.    The Eden story has a moral slant which seems rather odd in the context of BBM.     It's about the start of sin, if I remember correctly - there's a powerful, watchful, vengeful God/father figure who is clearly in the right (he's God), and Adam and Eve (and therefore the rest of humanity) are clearly in the wrong.    Obviously, this doesn't translate to BBM, unless we were to believe that Jack and Ennis really WERE wrong (or that homosexuality is wrong, or giving in to that temptation is wrong).

So it always seems to me that the Eden stuff is to do with Ennis.    He's the one who believes they are 'innocent' and that nothing is wrong (not Jack, who has a different take on the events of the summer), until he gets the 'knowledge' that it's wrong and feels shame.   He's the one who feel like he's falling, not Jack.   And it's pretty easy to fit that father figure in there too, especially if applying it to Ennis. 

So to me, the Eden reference isn't telling us that this it the Eden story - it's maybe just giving us an extra insight into what's going on with Ennis (almost the whole story is from his point of view, really).   And it could very well be the same with the idyll thing - it tells us a little about what's going on for Ennis - that pastoral innocence, but isn't meant to make us discount parts of the story (such as Jack's view). 

(No offence intended to Judeo-Christian believers  - this is just my non-religious take on the Eden story).
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Paul029 on October 25, 2008, 10:57:14 AM
I'm not as well read as most of you, I think, but I have read the bible so I do see the Eden allusion.     But although I can see it there, I don't have to then take the story as a retelling of the Eden story, or to dismiss parts of the story that don't fit with that.    The Eden story has a moral slant which seems rather odd in the context of BBM.     It's about the start of sin, if I remember correctly - there's a powerful, watchful, vengeful God/father figure who is clearly in the right (he's God), and Adam and Eve (and therefore the rest of humanity) are clearly in the wrong.    Obviously, this doesn't translate to BBM, unless we were to believe that Jack and Ennis really WERE wrong (or that homosexuality is wrong, or giving in to that temptation is wrong).

So it always seems to me that the Eden stuff is to do with Ennis.    He's the one who believes they are 'innocent' and that nothing is wrong (not Jack, who has a different take on the events of the summer), until he gets the 'knowledge' that it's wrong and feels shame.   He's the one who feel like he's falling, not Jack.   And it's pretty easy to fit that father figure in there too, especially if applying it to Ennis. 

So to me, the Eden reference isn't telling us that this it the Eden story - it's maybe just giving us an extra insight into what's going on with Ennis (almost the whole story is from his point of view, really).   And it could very well be the same with the idyll thing - it tells us a little about what's going on for Ennis - that pastoral innocence, but isn't meant to make us discount parts of the story (such as Jack's view). 

(No offence intended to Judeo-Christian believers  - this is just my non-religious take on the Eden story).
Hi there, Des. I was just browsing through some of the threads and read the most recent posts in this discussion.

I'm know I'm "butting in," and I'm sorry if I may seem out of line, but I don't see why you have to apologise. We all have differing abilities and areas of knowledge, and I've felt similarly "less-well-read" myself when discussing things with others. And I recall I've complimented you on some of the points you've made in your posts. Actually, I don't think it's how well-read we are that's the issue, it's probably what we've read, or not read, and no-one can read everything, can they?  :) And I've learnt a thing or two myself since joining the forum.

There's some recent posts on the Imagery and Symbolism thread which may be of interest to you. It's turning out to be very interesting, though I say it myself...
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Ministering angel on October 25, 2008, 06:32:43 PM
There are many things we have to work out for ourselves in all of Annie Proulx's writing, and she demands it should be so. There is much in this story that we must decide for ourselves, such as did Jack quit Ennis, how did Jack die, etc. etc. Obviously we must all make up our own minds on our interpretations, however we do need a clear basis from which to start and so I stand by my previous remarks.
An interesting point there, Janjo. Where does the clear basis end and the personal interpretation begin?

Two young men meet on a mountain, have sex, part, meet up again, carry on a relationship for 16 years, argue, one dies, the other finds some old shirts and then dreams of the first one.

You see, I know one or two people who believe that Ennis couldn't really have loved Jack if he treated him the way he did, so the clear basis becomes very basic indeed.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Desecra on October 26, 2008, 12:40:05 AM
Thanks, Paul.  I don't feel on confident ground on the S&I thread, but I do 'lurk' now and then - it's fascinating stuff.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: janjo on October 26, 2008, 04:18:56 AM
There are many things we have to work out for ourselves in all of Annie Proulx's writing, and she demands it should be so. There is much in this story that we must decide for ourselves, such as did Jack quit Ennis, how did Jack die, etc. etc. Obviously we must all make up our own minds on our interpretations, however we do need a clear basis from which to start and so I stand by my previous remarks.
An interesting point there, Janjo. Where does the clear basis end and the personal interpretation begin?

Two young men meet on a mountain, have sex, part, meet up again, carry on a relationship for 16 years, argue, one dies, the other finds some old shirts and then dreams of the first one.

You see, I know one or two people who believe that Ennis couldn't really have loved Jack if he treated him the way he did, so the clear basis becomes very basic indeed.

Please can we cease this "tit for tat" Mini.
I meant a clear basis in reading and understanding the English language, and in understanding AP's diverse and interesting metephors.
In making the short story substatially different to the film, misunderstanding the metaphors and subverting the rules of grammar is required. I am not prepared to do this. There are differences between the book and the film, but they are nothing like as substantial as you need them to be in order to subatantiate your theory.
AP has only ever described one change as causing her concern and that was the moving of parts of the motel conversation to the end scene at the lakeside, which was done in the film for reasons of dramatic tension, because of the differences in the media used.
She has never to my knowledge expressed concern about any other changes to her general theme that were made by the film makers. Where other changes were made such as the SNIT this information was given by Ang Lee, who said he made the change, but knew that Annie Proulx would probably hate it.
This scene was created, (although it could of course refer to the August night in the tent, and therefore not have been literally "created" at all), to show the audience the depth of the love between Jack and Ennis, which is missing from the film so far, because we do not have the narrators voice which is in the short story, with comments such as the one about "pawing the white out of the moon" etc.
Using this reasoning there is still a huge amount of speculation that can be done regarding the story, why Jack kept coming back to Ennis if he treated him so badly(?), being one of them.
How Jack died, what was going on with the ranch neighbour etc etc.
As I said before, I stand by my comments and my point of view.
I don't require you to change your mind, or to agree with me.
I have set out my case.
Let us cease this back and forth on two points of view that will never, unfortunately, merge. 
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Desecra on October 26, 2008, 06:14:01 AM
Janjo, the short story IS different.   The main story and themes and outcomes and so on are the same, but the parts are different.   I gave the example earlier of Annie Proulx herself saying that the 'pissing scene' was a key part of the story, yet it was left out entirely in the film.   

The motel scene being changed isn't a minor consideration.    The motel scene is linked to all the stuff about Ennis's denial, the face to face thing, the punch, the difference between Brokeback and the rest, etc. - all key stuff in the short story, but completely changed in the film.  (I won't go on about how, but happy to explain if it's not clear).   The short story motel scene as it was could not have fitted in to the film.    Just as an example, there's Ennis explaining that he thought it was 'bad food' after Brokeback - film Ennis couldn't really have thought that, and the way it's filimed I don't think we're expected to think he thought that.   Leaving that scene intact would make Ennis a liar.   And that's just a small example. 

The book explains why Jack keeps coming back to Ennis.  (It also explains that Ennis doesn't intend to treat Jack badly). 

I think what you're saying fits in well with what I said earlier about us tending to use either book or film as a template.   I know I'm guilty of, for instance, imagining that pissing scene took place in the film, imagining that the film DE is a one off, etc.   And I think what you are asking us to do is apply the film to the book.   I have very little disagreement with your interpretation of the film.   However, I don't feel it applies to the book any more than, say, the pissing scene applies to the film.    This is particularly the case where the book and film are at odds.   (To use a less contentious example, you couldn't really argue that we were meant to think that Jack was lying about his father in law's death, because he was still alive in the film.   You have to take the two separately).   
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: janjo on October 26, 2008, 06:59:06 AM
I agree with so much of what you say, Des. They are different, and in many, many ways, and I for one am not denying that for a moment. I was referring to misunderstandings of some of AP's metaphors by trying to change grammatical rules, and by questioning the way the majority of readers understand something.
We can all change the meanings of thing, for instance by changing puntuation, but it doesn't mean it is in our interests, or in our understanding of texts to do so.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Desecra on October 26, 2008, 07:54:22 AM
Not 'then' again :).   I think we finally agreed on the 'grammatical rules' there and how they fitted with our interpretation (e.g. they don't exclude my interpretation).    If it's time to go over it again, I'll go along with it, but it might be better to leave it at that.    Nobody is suggesting that you need to change punctuation.    And I don't think people should be discouraged from questioning the 'majority of readers'.  You'd never have got to your position on this if you hadn't questioned the majority.    If it was just a case of us respecting the majority opinion, we could just have a vote on everything and not bother discussing it.   But I think the discussion itself is useful, and there's often more interesting discussion if people don't agree completely on everything.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: janjo on October 26, 2008, 08:30:19 AM
Actually I was thinking more in terms of the "touched fire" metaphor. I certainly don't think we should have a vote on how things are perceived, but I do think that some credence should be given to how most people perceive the story, and not just it's perception by people who have changed their minds after studying the story for months and years.
I also know that comment does not apply to you.
Peace, Des?
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Desecra on October 26, 2008, 08:57:06 AM
I'm glad we agree on 'then' at least :).

Now 'touched fire' - I'm not sure where I'm breaking grammatical rules with that.   I've never claimed it was literal.   We're clearly told it's a metaphor - 'as though' he'd touched fire.   We know it's not fire he touched, but Jack's cock.    The metaphor implies to me that jerking his hand away was like a reflex action, rather than, say, a deliberate message to Jack, or uncertainty, or eagerness.    The 'fire' implies both danger and desire to me.    When Ennis enters Jack a moment later, he has 'clear slick' at the ready.   My interpretation was that touching Jack's cock aroused him, and his instinctive, subconscious reaction was to avoid that and go for something less threatening.   That fits in with what I read in other parts of the book.   The punch, etc., tell us about Ennis's denial (he hadn't thought of Earl before - so he can't have thought that what they were doing was gay before).   So we know by the end that the 'idyll' was created by his deep denial, and it makes sense that to maintain that denial he'd have to avoid certain things.  'Expedient poking' is one thing, producing 'clear slick' when you touch a man's cock is another.    So I think we're being told that not only did Ennis avoid things that were romantic, etc. (no SNIT) - things that straight guys wouldn't do - he also avoided things that straight guys might have done, but which would arouse somebody who wasn't straight.  And we're being told that the avoidance was like a reflex, rather than something that involved thought.

So my interpretation isn't just based on those words in isolation, but also how they fit with what we're told in the rest of the story - the motel conversation, Jack's thoughts about the DE, the punch, etc. 
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on October 26, 2008, 09:17:55 AM
I'm not as well read as most of you, I think, but I have read the bible so I do see the Eden allusion.     But although I can see it there, I don't have to then take the story as a retelling of the Eden story, or to dismiss parts of the story that don't fit with that.    The Eden story has a moral slant which seems rather odd in the context of BBM.     It's about the start of sin, if I remember correctly - there's a powerful, watchful, vengeful God/father figure who is clearly in the right (he's God), and Adam and Eve (and therefore the rest of humanity) are clearly in the wrong.    Obviously, this doesn't translate to BBM, unless we were to believe that Jack and Ennis really WERE wrong (or that homosexuality is wrong, or giving in to that temptation is wrong).


Quote
So it always seems to me that the Eden stuff is to do with Ennis.    He's the one who believes they are 'innocent' and that nothing is wrong (not Jack, who has a different take on the events of the summer), until he gets the 'knowledge' that it's wrong and feels shame.   He's the one who feel like he's falling, not Jack.   And it's pretty easy to fit that father figure in there too, especially if applying it to Ennis.
 

Yes, it is about Ennis, IMO-its' the only way to show what is going on inside this laconic, stoic man.

Quote
So to me, the Eden reference isn't telling us that this it the Eden story - it's maybe just giving us an extra insight into what's going on with Ennis (almost the whole story is from his point of view, really).   And it could very well be the same with the idyll thing - it tells us a little about what's going on for Ennis - that pastoral innocence, but isn't meant to make us discount parts of the story (such as Jack's view). 


Quote
(No offence intended to Judeo-Christian believers  - this is just my non-religious take on the Eden story).


No offense taken by this J-C believer.. ;D ;D I agree, this is a way to show us what is going on inside Ennis; and it does have a basis, in the idea of how American society was structured at the time; still is, really, to a large extent.-As I said the other day, they would be cast out of society. That is Ennis's real fear-he doesn't want to be one of them guys. I don't see any reason to personalize the Eden story, other than it is a use of particular imagery to get the point across. Note, too,  that is the fear he expresses FIRST, even before adding, '..and I don't want to be dead'. It is shame. And that fits well with the idea of Adam and Eve suddenly realizing they are naked. (Especailly apropos as Ennis has his 'queer' moment during the columbine sexual encounter, where he suddenly punches Jack, after the ministering following the bloody nose..it's on a slant, but it's there, IMO.)  And his folks was Methodist, too, ie, judeo-christian. So he would have a touchstone to biblical damnation.  ;) it doesn't matter what we as readers believe ourselves; the point of the imagery is that it tells the story of how he feels inside as he comes down that mountain-like a 'sinner'.

Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Paul029 on October 26, 2008, 09:41:32 AM
Actually I was thinking more in terms of the "touched fire" metaphor. I certainly don't think we should have a vote on how things are perceived, but I do think that some credence should be given to how most people perceive the story, and not just it's perception by people who have changed their minds after studying the story for months and years.
I also know that comment does not apply to you.
Peace, Des?
Hello, janjo. I wasn't too sure how to get back into this thread, and I'm delighted to find that things continue to be thrashed out. Perhaps I could add a word or two about the '"touched fire" reference later?
I'll have to scroll back a page or several first... :)

Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on October 26, 2008, 09:47:29 AM
Janjo, I'm interested in the idea of 'most people' thinking the 'touched fire' means something other than danger to Ennis...? I think some brokies may think that-but non-brokies who read the SS in 1997 may have a completely different take. I don't think an answer to that can be backed up by any of us, except in terms of ourselves.... I read it before seeing the film, in 05, and thought it was fear-which made the following event so much more stunning to me. So I guess I was pre-influenced by the short story-the original work. My perception is that once people get Jake and Heath in their heads, it's hard to not romanticize the moment, more than the story does. Even so, see how Ennis jumps back from Jack in the tent? How can that be taken as pleasure and arousal? It takes him a moment, once Jack starts touching him, to respond the way that fits in with the idea of touching fire making him more urgent. He definitely has to be led past the fear/danger, ironically, moreso in the film, actually.
The SS has a lightning fast response, followed by a lack of preamble-or foreplay-before the main event. And yet, still we are told he 'jerked' his hand back. I will never be able to see this as more than a reflexively negative response, that is then overpowered by his desire. But I think the fear/danger comes first. Then, and I agree with Des on this, he recognizes his body's natural response, and his own desire.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Paul029 on October 26, 2008, 10:29:53 AM
May I butt in here, please, CSI? [Sorry, janjo.]

Quote from: CANSTANDIT
Janjo, I'm interested in the idea of 'most people' thinking the 'touched fire' means something other than danger to Ennis...?
and
Quote from: CANSTANDIT
I will never be able to see this as more than a reflexively negative response
I'd assume that he was rather "taken aback" - to put it mildly - and that he reacted as he did because it was an inherently "natural" response  [i.e. a learned response] when touching the genitals of a person of the same gender, a "taboo" in Western society; an equivalent taboo is incest. We're unconsciously "trained"  [if you like], from childhood to avoid these forbidden, unnatural things.
Of course, if they weren't in Wyoming, and Ennis hadn't had this sort of Western-cultural upbringing, but instead - let's say, for example, that of Polynesia - his reaction may/would have been different.
My apologies. Just adding fuel to the fire...




Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on October 26, 2008, 12:00:03 PM
^^^^^^^
And, especially if he does not understand his own feelings, it would seem to make sense the he'd find Jack's move shocking; and if he is homophobic, he'd find it verbotem. Given the culture, it would seem to be a natural response. If there is an idyllic atmosphere, it has to be tied to the joys of discovery of the combination of affection and erotic love-and Ennis hasn't been there yet, if you see what I mean. He still has to wake up to the red dawn, in the book ;and in the film, he has to get past that dark cloud of confusion and negative emotions that seem to cloud him the next morning.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Desecra on October 26, 2008, 12:08:51 PM
Please do, Paul :) (add fuel!).  

Yes, definitely taboo, for Ennis.   But the anal sex isn't taboo (book only here, again).   The two acts have different meanings for him at that point.   It's about what each act tells him about himself I think.   If we're going along (very very loosely!) with the Eden idea, he's avoiding knowledge at that point, and so he doesn't feel shame.   Hence, no doubts the next morning - just knowing how it would go.   My idea is that if he feels desire (and the physical manifestations of that) while giving Jack anal sex, it seems (to him) that any man might feel that.   But if he feels desire (etc) while touching Jack's cock - then he would know that it was about Jack, a man.  
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: janjo on October 26, 2008, 12:11:32 PM
The full quote is:

"Ennis ran full throttle on all roads whether fence mending or money spending and wanted none of it when Jack seized his left hand and brought it to his erect cock. Ennis jerked his hand away as if he had touched fire, got to his knees, unbuckled his belt, shoved his pants down, hauled Jack onto all fours, and with the help of the clear slick and a little spit, entered him, nothing he'd done before but no instruction manual needed."

I really can't believe we are getting into all this again, but to me this is a description of a man who is in haste to get on with the sex, and is rejecting masturbation. It was not Jack's cock he wanted none of, but the further delay in getting on with something that to him is the natural conclusion of them "deepening their intimacy considerably."
Ennis is not rejecting Jack, but is ready, willing and able to do what is needed with no insruction manual needed, he is working on pure instinct here.
This is my view, and that of Eric Patterson in "On Brokeback Mountain."
That is good enough for me, but I don't expect to change any minds here.

What concerned me, leading to my original posting, was that in accepting that there was no idyll because of this and other phrases, we were then setting up a scenario which precluded discussion of the many kinds of idyll that are suggested in the text.
To deny that it is shown at all by saying that there was no idyll because of these remarks being taken out of context, precludes any viable discussion of the rich symbolism inherent in the story.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: CANSTANDIT on October 26, 2008, 12:25:45 PM
Perhaps the difference in the perspective is the idea of the 'intimacy'-there is physical intimacy, and there is emotional intimacy. I think the night was mostly about lust, that two 19 year olds could no longer fight off. I think the love was never acknowledged, so I think it altered the meaning of some of those lines.
Title: Re: Ennis' and Jack's Relationship, II
Post by: Desecra on October 26, 2008, 12:58:59 PM
Where's the problem with grammar and punctuation?  I'm still not seeing it.

What Ennis wanted none of was this ((Jack seized his left hand and brought it to his erect cock)).   We can speculate about the reason for him wanting none of it, but I think the story is clear about what he wanted none of. 

Now that doesn't preclude any discussion of idylls - the symbolism, Eden, the idyll, etc. can all be there along with Ennis's denial, etc.   We're getting an idea of how it was for h