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Author Topic: The Reunion  (Read 813985 times)

Offline Ministering angel

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Re: The Reunion
« Reply #4785 on: February 09, 2016, 02:26:33 PM »
Nicely to the point, Jo.

It's a classic three-part setup - on the mountain Ennis sets up the denial and Jack toes the line, in the motel the same thing happens, then on the last trip he refuses to play along, with disastrous consequences. I assume that when they torque things back almost to where they were before, that involves Jack's recanting in some way.

Offline andy/Claude

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Re: The Reunion
« Reply #4786 on: February 10, 2016, 02:43:55 AM »

...and Jack toes the line...

Without which the story wouldn't work at all, imho.
the shirts hanging on a nail shudder slightly in the draft.

Offline royandronnie

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Re: The Reunion
« Reply #4787 on: February 10, 2016, 07:09:04 PM »
I had an even longer, more convoluted post which I got rid of. :))

My real point is all through out the story, we are told Ennis is afraid of being queer. I won't belabor it with quotes.
And given this is a literary work, we have to accept there is a theme-a reason-for the story. We are told by the author that DRH is the reason. she wanted to explore destructive rural homophobia against the backdrop of a homosexual relationship-she was clear on that, if you read her interview quotes.

So Jack had to pause-he had to make sure he got that answer right-or he'd risk losing everything the DE promised a mere 4 years later. 20 years later-it was another story.

This is, by the way, a great post. Sorry I took so long getting around to it. I don't visit the Scene threads as often as I should. Marian's right--brings it all back. Even if the wrong guy went into the shoot-em zone.
"…in the family homestead of his dead lover, the shirts they wore while cowboying together long before: shabby denim and weary cotton, wrapped in each other's arms." Like this. Always.

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

Offline royandronnie

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Re: The Reunion
« Reply #4788 on: February 10, 2016, 07:29:30 PM »
Nicely to the point, Jo.

It's a classic three-part setup - on the mountain Ennis sets up the denial and Jack toes the line, in the motel the same thing happens, then on the last trip he refuses to play along, with disastrous consequences. I assume that when they torque things back almost to where they were before, that involves Jack's recanting in some way.

I find myself thinking about this idea of disastrous consequences. Is that actually what happens, that Jack standing up for himself has terrible consequences? Yes, if Jack did indeed quit, and carelessly allow his sexuality to become more public at home, with the result that he was murdered for it. But I don't think it's as simple, or as simplistic, as that. I agree Jack despairs. I believe he was murdered, myself. Probably did in his anger/grief do something careless that set his killers onto him. But I think the consequences were born of the years of lies and accommodations, not Jack's rebellion: quit or not, he goes home in a daze of anger, bitterness and despair, hardly caring what he does. This precipitates his murder, or at the very least, his accident. And Ennis? He doesn't end it, despite Jack's "revelation:" he still expects November to happen, and wants it to. He's not relieved to get that postcard back, he's devastated. I'm kind of splitting hairs here, but I think it's a significant distinction. Jack tears down the lies, and nothing really changes.

I'm not sure what Jack can recant at that point, you know. He's admitted to sex with other men, which was the elephant in the room. I imagine, myself, more of a silent agreement, some version of "yeah, well, okay" and a smack on the shoulder that Ennis thinks makes everything okay but Jack doesn't.
"…in the family homestead of his dead lover, the shirts they wore while cowboying together long before: shabby denim and weary cotton, wrapped in each other's arms." Like this. Always.

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

Offline Ministering angel

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Re: The Reunion
« Reply #4789 on: February 12, 2016, 04:29:32 AM »
It's funny, I was thinking of the effect on Ennis when talking about disastrous consequences, and hadn't meant to indicate what happens further down the track. However, when I turn my mind to it I think Jack's death does come about because of the argument. For me, it's all in the imagery and literary allusions. If Jack is aligned with Dido and Ophelia, then he dies because he believes he has lost his love - he has been deserted by Ennis.

Jack reveals the truth (or at least refuses to play the game any longer) and Ennis's reaction is to indicate that It Is Not Okay. He more or less is telling Jack that it's all about the sex, no love involved, just a "thing". However Jack sees it, it triggers his rethink of the DE and the realisation that the promise it held will never be his. The moment which has kept him going for twenty years is never going to occur again. Add to that the way he sees Ennis's collapse in terms of his own father's "crazy rage" ("But before he was out of the truck, trying to guess if it was heart attack or the overflow of an incendiary rage"), and harking back to how Jack is the mopper-upper when he does the wrong thing by his alpha males (he cleans up his father's piss, he cleans up Ennis's blood, he undoubtedly "cleans up", i.e. does the heavy lifting in the torquing, after the argument), and it seems that Jack is likely to be emotionally flattened by what happens. It may be incorrect for him to assume Ennis will never be able to follow up on the promise of the DE but that's how Jack sees it.

Hence the Dido/Ophelia alignment, hence (as I see it) a kind of suicidal accident.

So although I wasn't referring to later events I guess I was subconsciously thinking about them.

Offline Ministering angel

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Re: The Reunion
« Reply #4790 on: February 12, 2016, 04:30:39 AM »
Without which the story wouldn't work at all, imho.
Indeed, Claude. It would be about Ennis punching Jack's lights out and running away as fast as he could.

Offline CANSTANDIT

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Re: The Reunion
« Reply #4791 on: March 04, 2016, 09:34:32 PM »
I find myself thinking about this idea of disastrous consequences. Is that actually what happens, that Jack standing up for himself has terrible consequences? Yes, if Jack did indeed quit, and carelessly allow his sexuality to become more public at home, with the result that he was murdered for it. But I don't think it's as simple, or as simplistic, as that. I agree Jack despairs. I believe he was murdered, myself. Probably did in his anger/grief do something careless that set his killers onto him. But I think the consequences were born of the years of lies and accommodations, not Jack's rebellion: quit or not, he goes home in a daze of anger, bitterness and despair, hardly caring what he does. This precipitates his murder, or at the very least, his accident. And Ennis? He doesn't end it, despite Jack's "revelation:" he still expects November to happen, and wants it to. He's not relieved to get that postcard back, he's devastated. I'm kind of splitting hairs here, but I think it's a significant distinction. Jack tears down the lies, and nothing really changes.

I'm not sure what Jack can recant at that point, you know. He's admitted to sex with other men, which was the elephant in the room. I imagine, myself, more of a silent agreement, some version of "yeah, well, okay" and a smack on the shoulder that Ennis thinks makes everything okay but Jack doesn't.
That is interesting, isn't it? Jack does whatever he does to tweak things, but he can't really unsay what he said-so Ennis goes forward with the knowledge of Jack admitting he's not like Ennis-he still wants to meet up. I used to feel hope in that, that despite Jack's death, Ennis was showing some growth. There was a touch of hope for Ennis's spirit. But the more I think of it....I can also see how it would just replay over and over, anytime they saw each other, any time Jack would try to break thru-Ennis would just keep shutting him down, and in effect, winning.
In the movie if you recall, Jack embraces Ennis as he crumbles and we hear him say, 'damn you Ennis'...same as 'wish I knew how to qui you'. He doesn't, and he can't. They'd go on and on, if it were not for that interesting death twist. That benign tumor over Ennis's eye-it's something he can live with-it's benign, it won't kill him. Like the relationship.
Thanks for the kind words, BTW.

Offline Ministering angel

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Re: The Reunion
« Reply #4792 on: March 05, 2016, 07:04:11 PM »
CSI, do you think his reassessment of the DE changes anything? It remains unmarred, we are told, and yet the promise is not so certain in Jack's mind.

Offline royandronnie

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Re: The Reunion
« Reply #4793 on: March 05, 2016, 08:06:05 PM »
That is interesting, isn't it? Jack does whatever he does to tweak things, but he can't really unsay what he said-so Ennis goes forward with the knowledge of Jack admitting he's not like Ennis-he still wants to meet up. I used to feel hope in that, that despite Jack's death, Ennis was showing some growth. There was a touch of hope for Ennis's spirit. But the more I think of it....I can also see how it would just replay over and over, anytime they saw each other, any time Jack would try to break thru-Ennis would just keep shutting him down, and in effect, winning.
In the movie if you recall, Jack embraces Ennis as he crumbles and we hear him say, 'damn you Ennis'...same as 'wish I knew how to qui you'. He doesn't, and he can't. They'd go on and on, if it were not for that interesting death twist. That benign tumor over Ennis's eye-it's something he can live with-it's benign, it won't kill him. Like the relationship.
Thanks for the kind words, BTW.

I don't know about the story, but in the movie, I think we can definitely see, as Ennis sits desolate in the bus station, his growing realization that things are going to need to change--ie. he is going to need to change. The story says he drives away from the Final Argument apparently feeling things are pretty much back to normal--yet here he is an unknown time later, but presumably a couple months anyway, staring miserably into space, clearly still deeply disturbed about his relationship with Jack. He can't be queer, but Jack has admitted to being with other men, but things are back to normal, no they aren't, Jack wanted to quit him--I see him realizing that it's either got to end or move forward. Remember the extra line: "I can't stand this anymore, Jack." And yet he drove off expecting to see Jack in November. I'd say that's the biggest evidence that things would have changed: he couldn't stand it, so he was going to have to fix it. And that wasn't going to be easy.

In the story, one thing definitely did change: Jack admitted to gay sex with other men. It may not have been news, but there is a world of difference between being even 90% sure of something and learning that it is so. As recently as the night before, Jack was lying about who he was having sex with in Childress. That preserved the fiction. Now it's out in the open. And Ennis has accepted it: he drives away planning for November. Whether that would have led to living together, or more time together, I don't know. But it was a huge advance on "not one goddamn word ever." For Jack's emotional state, it might have been good.
"…in the family homestead of his dead lover, the shirts they wore while cowboying together long before: shabby denim and weary cotton, wrapped in each other's arms." Like this. Always.

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

Offline royandronnie

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Re: The Reunion
« Reply #4794 on: March 05, 2016, 08:15:52 PM »
CSI, do you think his reassessment of the DE changes anything? It remains unmarred, we are told, and yet the promise is not so certain in Jack's mind.

I'm going to throw in my view here, if you don't mind, before CSI replies. I think the sentence "Nothing marred it," etc is actually another one of those diabolically misleading things Annie says from time to time. If you think about it, in the very saying that nothing marred it, it is marred. I think at the time, the last thing on Jack's mind was that Ennis wouldn't hold him face to face--but it's obvious from the way his memory is framed that he certainly thought about that later, many times.

Personally, I don't think it changes anything. But then I'm a NQer. I see Jack kind of automatically reaching for that memory whenever something bad happens between them. It is the reason he came back after four years, and kept coming back. We see him doing damage control here, torquing back to normal. "…maybe they'd never got much further than that?" A little more problematic. It can read as the final nail in the coffin. Or it could be Jack coming to a new understanding that this is what he must live with in order to see Ennis. What do you think?
"…in the family homestead of his dead lover, the shirts they wore while cowboying together long before: shabby denim and weary cotton, wrapped in each other's arms." Like this. Always.

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

Offline CANSTANDIT

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Re: The Reunion
« Reply #4795 on: March 05, 2016, 08:34:47 PM »
CSI, do you think his reassessment of the DE changes anything? It remains unmarred, we are told, and yet the promise is not so certain in Jack's mind.
Oh yeah  I think it clearly does. Had Jack not felt it was  now marred-or the memory was ?-is what I meant about things just going on . Ennis would have just gone along.

Offline B.W.

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Re: The Reunion
« Reply #4796 on: March 27, 2016, 09:49:27 AM »
I always kind of wondered why Ennis never mentioned Jack to Alma before the men were reunited after four years?  I'm sure that she knew that he had worked as a sheep herder during the summer of 1963, I mean they were engaged at the time. Maybe he did mention Jack to her, but he probably didn't go into too much detail about him. Ennis isn't much of a talker anyway. No doubt, he would have hid information about their sexual escapades from Alma, even if he did mention Jack to her. 

Offline Ministering angel

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Re: The Reunion
« Reply #4797 on: March 27, 2016, 04:09:36 PM »
No doubt whatsoever!  :D I figure that Ennis's avoidance of the truth would have meant he kept well away from any such conversations. What do you think, BW?

Offline B.W.

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Re: The Reunion
« Reply #4798 on: April 02, 2016, 09:01:07 AM »
No doubt whatsoever!  :D I figure that Ennis's avoidance of the truth would have meant he kept well away from any such conversations. What do you think, BW?


Definitely, I think that by not even talking about Jack, Ennis was able to repress himself even more.  He most certainly thought about him, even when he didn't want to.

Offline Paul029

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Re: The Reunion
« Reply #4799 on: April 04, 2016, 10:22:53 AM »
Just to clear up a misunderstanding, when I drew an end to the discussion about the extent to which Ennis was affected by the DE I wasn't "admit[ting] that [I'm] wrong without actually saying so, in order to dismiss [your] point of view." I simply reached my own conclusion that the discussion had outlasted its welcome, certainly as far as I was concerned.

There was no misunderstanding on my part, Marian. The difference between Ennis “almost verging on somnolence” and being “an active participant in the embrace” is clear, and interpreting it otherwise misses the point, as indicated by your explanation, that “I was only saying that he is less in a drowsy state than Jack,” which I found puzzling.  Your conclusion speaks for itself, so thank you for the clarification.
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