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Author Topic: The Reunion  (Read 813990 times)

Offline Desecra

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Re: The Reunion
« Reply #4830 on: July 19, 2016, 05:26:16 AM »
I think this that's a great summary.  The fathers seem to define how the two of them see themselves and each other, and how they react and respond to each other.

I'm convinced that you're right and that something triggered Ennis's outburst about/during the sex.   There was something he didn't allow to happen.   Jack knew that Ennis wouldn't embrace face to face, etc.  He couldn't have been certain about the information solely from what happened in the FNIT (Ennis turning him around), or even repeats of the FNIT ... I suspect that something else happened that prompted Ennis to be absolutely clear about what he wouldn't do and why. 
Unless, I say otherwise, I'm probably talking about the short story, not the movie. :)

Offline Ministering angel

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Re: The Reunion
« Reply #4831 on: July 19, 2016, 05:32:29 PM »
Yes indeed. It's a plain, stark story in many ways, and I've always been convinced that the answers to most/all questions are tucked away in the text somewhere. So, we learn from the DE that Ennis would not then hold Jack face to face, and why (or at least Jack's sad interpretation of it - after all, it matters not if your lover wouldn't do it to anyone when you are the one who is experiencing that refusal). The question was always, "How did Jack know?"

There are three ways I can think of:

1. that he intuited it and so never tried, not even during the DE
2. that he realised it through repeated actions such as making small attempts and being firmly (but wordlessly) kept in his place
3. that something was said

And we know something was said, and as it's an odd comment to make out of the blue, and as it's not a comment which directly tells Jack that f2f is out of the question, then it makes sense (to me, anyway) that Jack tried a bit of f2f and was rebuffed. And the rebuff would make it plain: this f2f stuff - gotta be a kiss, what else? - is queer while happy bum sex between mates is not queer. Then later in the reunion (on topic again!  :D) that dichotomy is reinforced: Ennis seems to care not a jot that Aguirre was spying on them, yet he says that if what happened back at the apartment grabs hold of them in more public circumstances then they are dead.

That's rather intriguing. By this time he has his arguments against being queer sorted out in his head and in his home - the wife and kids - so he's more able to consider and then reject the possibility that he's gay. On the mountain I don't know that he was in denial; he controlled the situation according to his own needs, and when Jack finally broke through with his ministering he reacted instinctively with the punch. Back in the real world he needs that denial in order to continue.

I think I've lost my train of thought here  :(

Offline Desecra

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Re: The Reunion
« Reply #4832 on: July 20, 2016, 02:55:15 PM »
I suppose he needed the wife and kids, to prove that he wasn't gay.  If he hadn't yet married by the four years and Jack had turned up, I wonder if they could have got together?  I don't know, but I suspect Ennis needed that proof of his own heterosexuality, and the time it gave him to think and reason and come to the conclusion that it was OK to have a thing about a good friend.   

I think he's in denial on the mountain, but maybe I'm just thinking about the word the wrong way, as I don't think he gets to the point of actually denying it to himself.  He just avoids the subject altogether, and avoids doing anything that would make him think about it.  I agree that it's instinctive. 
Unless, I say otherwise, I'm probably talking about the short story, not the movie. :)

Offline Ministering angel

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Re: The Reunion
« Reply #4833 on: July 21, 2016, 07:47:28 PM »
I don't think we're in any sort of disagreement. It all depends on your interpretation of denial (and I'm pretty certain I've previously described Ennis as being in denial on the mountain  :D)

I guess I'm swayed by "the old cold time when they owned the world and nothing seemed wrong". I think that Ennis was driven by his natural desires but never stood back to see them in the cold light of pure fact. I don't think it's so difficult for him to fail to recognise the truth. I think we've all maybe had experience of that moment when we "see ourselves as others see us". If Ennis had engaged his brain as well as his gonads he might well have seen more clearly before the ministering reminded him sharply of Earl's body.

And yet, there's the no f2f thing, so a part of his brain was protecting him from the truth and beginning to develop the excuses he'd later use. Bottom line for me is "nothing seemed wrong", i.e. the only time when he experienced true innocence, as he saw it, and even decades later that innocent time is what he chooses to recall. Does he then (in the prologue) still deny the truth or is he simply wanting that freedom without knowledge? I go for the latter. If the mountain is the Garden of Eden, then it's the arrival of knowledge which destroys it. Until Jack gets in his face with his ministering, knowledge keeps its head down.

Offline royandronnie

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Re: The Reunion
« Reply #4834 on: July 22, 2016, 09:50:06 PM »
Freedom without knowledge, works for me.

As far as a triggering action for "ain't no queer," it seems to me that it could be almost anything that requires that Ennis pleasure Jack. We remember he didn't want to touch Jack's penis--that probably didn't change much. Maybe Jack wanted some oral. Maybe he even wanted to give it, and Ennis thought THAT was too queer. Even mutual masturbation might have been too much. Maybe Jack wanted missionary!

I would agree that an understanding that Ennis "would not then embrace" probably rose from repeated instances where Jack made some attempt that involved them looking at each other or seeing each other's face and then found himself turned around.
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Offline Desecra

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Re: The Reunion
« Reply #4835 on: July 23, 2016, 01:05:02 AM »
I think that Ennis jerking his hand away was a very clear message (in the FNIT) and I don't think Jack would have made repeated attempts for that (and they both knew how it would go after that one act, so Jack wasn't really expecting any progression in that direction).  Yes, he could have gone for different positioning.   A kiss probably makes most sense to me, just because the kiss is the biggy - and then there would be the contrast between Ennis's reaction to the kiss there, and at the reunion.  Kissing was something that could get you killed (i.e. what queer men might do), whereas what they were doing the rest of the time on the mountain wasn't.   By the reunion, he's rationalised that it doesn't mean that he's queer, but is still aware that it looks that way from the outside. 

Just personally, I think I'm going to think it was a kiss, because that's what I looked for in the book (after reading the DE), that's the thing that struck me about not embracing face to face - that they couldn't have kissed on the mountain.    And that's the act that AP gives importance to as well: the detailed description of what turns out to be the first kiss at the reunion.  She only really describes their sex acts (sorry, couldn't think of a better description!) twice: the FNIT, and the reunion kiss.  At other times, it's very much left to the imagination.  So these two are both very important, I think.   It would feel kind of tidy for the act that prompted Ennis's "not queer" outburst was an attempted kiss.   So that must be in Jack's mind when he thinks of the DE. 
Unless, I say otherwise, I'm probably talking about the short story, not the movie. :)

Offline Paul029

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Re: The Reunion
« Reply #4836 on: July 29, 2016, 08:33:36 AM »
In reading the last few posts I'm not really certain what the point is that is being made-? In terms of the canon or short story , were it considered a general truth that teenaged (GAY) boys # don't talk about sex then she'd have no need to say they never talked about it, except the one time. So therefore if she brought up the exception to what happened all summer then she is making a point. This may be what was meant regarding not wasting words. I'm not positive.
It might be considered to be a general truth that teenage boys don’t talk about sex and, if so, there was no need to mention it; but the point is being made that these particular teenage boys did not talk about it.

Removing “they never talked about the sex” from the sentence, for instance, doesn’t affect the meaning of what happened after FNIT but actually makes its meaning clearer.

... without saying anything about it both knew how it would go for the rest of the summer, sheep be damned.

As it did go. They ... let it happen, at first only in the tent at night, then in the full daylight with the hot sun striking down, and at evening in the fire glow, quick, rough, laughing and snorting, no lack of noises, but saying not a goddamn word except once Ennis said, “I’m not no queer,” and Jack jumped in with “Me neither. A one-shot thing. Nobody’s business but ours.”


“Without saying anything about it” refers not only to what had happened the night before, but also that they knew what would happen afterwards. “As it did go” verifies that what they did in the tent is what they did for the rest of the summer.

The removal of “they never talked about the sex” also gives greater emphasis to “no lack of noises, but saying not a goddamn word,” indicating the primal importance of not talking about what they were doing.

The connection between what occurred in the tent and what happened afterwards is clear. They did not talk about the sex during their initial sexual encounter in the tent and they both knew, also without saying anything about it, that that was how they would continue to have sex for the rest of the summer—it would be as rough, as quick and as spontaneous as it was in FNIT, and it would definitely not be talked about.

The fact that they didn’t talk at all, but instead made “noises,” is emphasized by the sole exception to this unspoken understanding: the time that they both talked briefly about their heterosexuality. The rule that was tacitly set in place during FNIT, that the sex would not be talked about, remained intact.

I am curious about the motives behind the rather gratuitous descriptions about the basic mechanics of sex between men..?? I think it's fair to say not only we adults all have a pretty good idea of biological functions;
I disagree that my comments regarding what occurred during sex were “gratuitous descriptions.” My references to sexual mechanics were presented only to demonstrate what was involved in “the sex” that they didn’t talk about—the physical activity in which they engaged.

Whether or not “we adults all have a pretty good idea of biological functions” is rather beside the point, and could possibly be interpreted as indicating a reluctance to read about what occurs when men have sex with each other. Or perhaps not, but I thought it was important that information about male sexual response was presented, especially where anal intercourse was involved, to indicate how, for instance, Jack was able to lose control.

The story deals with this issue in a frank, straightforward manner and although the text doesn’t go into an excess of juicy detail (in accordance with the writer’s pared-down style and the fact that the protagonists are randy, hormonally-charged teenagers) its account of what happened in the tent is presented, not with irrelevant “romantic” overtones, but via what can only be called “sexual mechanics.” After all, the story isn’t something from Mills and Boon.

... but I believe the nature of what they did not talk about would not be wisely interpreted as being literally about sexual mechanics.
I’m unsure why you would think this, Jo. What occurs in the paragraph immediately prior to “they never talked about the sex” is a straightforward description of sexual activity between two men which leaves little to the imagination. What we’re told is presented solely in purely physical terms, describing the physical mechanics involved.

But rather would likely be more about what actually was discussed in the Reunion scene, ie, how they felt about each other and the nature of what the sex meant-which is discussed at great length 4 years later. ...
This overlooks the importance of the conditions of the FNIT template. The text stipulates that it was specifically the sex in which they engaged in the tent which would be “how it would go,” and which it did, and this included not talking about it.

They didn’t talk about what they were doing in the tent when they were doing it, they didn’t talk about what they’d done the next day, nor did they talk about what they were doing day and night over the rest of the summer.

They didn’t talk about anything else, either, for that matter—the weather, the sheep, for instance, let alone how they felt about each other, or what the sex meant to them—and there’s no reference to any of these things during the “sex in the tent” description, either. All we have to go by is what we’re told, that they didn’t talk about the sex at any time.

It was only during the motel section of the story that they talked about their sexual activity; although, even then, they’re both unable to bring themselves to use the actual word, preferring to use the pronoun “it” as a replacement for the noun. 

It’s also the first time that related issues (such as “how they felt about each other and the nature of what the sex meant”) are talked about. It’s hard to believe that they’d have had such thoughts four years earlier.

It’s not until after they leave the mountain that such thoughts start to occur to them. It’s only at the reunion four years later that Ennis, for instance, not known previously for articulating his thoughts, indicates he’d been thinking about what had happened between them on the mountain.


# Your reference to “teenaged (GAY) boys” suggests you think they differ from teenaged (HETEROSEXUAL) boys with regards to talking about sex. But while the latter group might indeed have no problem with talking about it among themelves I suspect that they wouldn’t do so in the same way with their female sexual partners in 1963. That would depend, I suppose, on what sort of boys they were, and what sort of girls they’d had sex with.

The point is moot, anyway, as in the case of the story these two teenaged boys do not talk about the sex they have with each other.

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Offline Ministering angel

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Re: The Reunion
« Reply #4837 on: August 09, 2016, 06:28:24 PM »


It’s also the first time that related issues (such as “how they felt about each other and the nature of what the sex meant”) are talked about. It’s hard to believe that they’d have had such thoughts four years earlier.

It’s not until after they leave the mountain that such thoughts start to occur to them. It’s only at the reunion four years later that Ennis, for instance, not known previously for articulating his thoughts, indicates he’d been thinking about what had happened between them on the mountain.

I disagree. To begin with, Jack and Ennis are two quite different individuals, and while many readers (judging by much of what has been written here and elsewhere) tend to see them as "a pair", AP clearly differentiates. Much of what we know about Jack is kept hidden in the background, hence perhaps the tendency to assume Jack thinks as Ennis does. I'd venture to say that that is what AP was striving for, so that when she gets to the big (and rather stretched out) denouement, it comes as a huge shock. Or should.

What the Dozy Embrace tells us plainly is that on the mountain Jack already had the stirrings of awareness. The thoughts are there in sufficient strength that he steals Ennis's shirt. Maybe he was just trophy-hunting but I doubt it. When Ennis wrapped his arms around Jack and gave him that long embrace, Jack's whole life changed. I guess that if the DE hadn't happened, Jack may have shrugged the summer off as experience but the DE is the thing which changes it for him, and so I reckon his purloining of the shirt is a gesture of inchoate love.

As for Ennis, you may be right about his conscious feelings and thoughts but the punch does suggest that he knows on some level what the sex meant. Even if he can't articulate it, his body reacts as he leaves, feeling "like someone was pulling his guts out hand over hand a yard at a time." The whole point of the punch, as I see it, is that he is responding blindly to the subconscious realisation that he's opened himself up to the fate he has feared since he was nine.

Offline Ministering angel

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Re: The Reunion
« Reply #4838 on: August 28, 2016, 12:00:05 AM »
I disagree that my comments regarding what occurred during sex were “gratuitous descriptions.” My references to sexual mechanics were presented only to demonstrate what was involved in “the sex” that they didn’t talk about—the physical activity in which they engaged.

Whether or not “we adults all have a pretty good idea of biological functions” is rather beside the point, and could possibly be interpreted as indicating a reluctance to read about what occurs when men have sex with each other. Or perhaps not, but I thought it was important that information about male sexual response was presented, especially where anal intercourse was involved, to indicate how, for instance, Jack was able to lose control.

The story deals with this issue in a frank, straightforward manner and although the text doesn’t go into an excess of juicy detail (in accordance with the writer’s pared-down style and the fact that the protagonists are randy, hormonally-charged teenagers) its account of what happened in the tent is presented, not with irrelevant “romantic” overtones, but via what can only be called “sexual mechanics.” After all, the story isn’t something from Mills and Boon.
Paul, in all my time of reading posts here - well over a decade now - I don't recall that anyone failed to understand that when Jack let out his choked "Gun's goin off!" he was doing so as part of his orgasm. I could be wrong but I think we all figured that out, and AP certainly treated her readers as adults who didn't require an explanation as to the exact nature of Jack's response. And, you know, an orgasm is an orgasm, be you male, female, gay, straight, with someone or with just yourself, or anywhere in between. Sure, there are differences, but the essential process is that involuntary reaction to sexual stimulation of one sort or another. Even if we don't know precisely how Jack was feeling at that moment we can bring our experience/intellect/imagination to bear. And if AP thought a graphic description of the process was necessary in order for her readers to understand, then I'm guessing she would have included it. And, don't forget, she's a woman, and since Jack is her character and FNIT is her scene, maybe it's we women who have a better grasp of what she's trying to say.  ;)

Did you and/or the other men who read the story need a detailed physical explanation of female orgasm when Alma "shuddered and bucked against his hand"? I'm guessing not. If a story could only be understood fully by readers who had the same experiences as the characters it would be a dull old reading world. We use our own responses and feelings and maybe we learn something along the way.

As to your mention of "reluctance to read about what occurs when men have sex with each other" (followed by "or perhaps not", I note), and your use of "romantic" and "Mills & Boon" as perhaps not-so-subtle suggestions of how some people view the story, all I can say is that I've never read a Mills & Boon book so I'll have to take your word for it that it's the polar opposite of BBM.

Offline CANSTANDIT

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Re: The Reunion
« Reply #4839 on: September 16, 2016, 07:19:56 PM »
To comment on what action caused Ennis's comment and later-I believe- the punch: Jack was ministering to Ennis, f/f, obviously, later. He had a bloody nose and Jack was stemming it. He was taking care of him. So that kind of clears up what was happening there.  He may have trying to sooth, kiss, etc. The key is the action was-well, possibly in Ennis's mind, girlish.
Ang Lee had Jake G whisper 'sweetie' in the actual film scene-and next moment, you can see the rage in Ennis/Heath's face. Listen close, gang. It's there.
So he interpprreted it in much that same way-Jack was ministering/nurturing, surely in Ennis's eyes, not being a guy.

And it HAS to be connected to 'I'm not no queer' in the one time scene, because the parallel Ennis gives later is it's a parallel to Ennis punching his brother to make him hear good. The only thing spoken about sex on the mountain is 'I'm not no queer'-then Ennis punches Jack later (connect to punching his brother), so whatever happened in the 'one time' incident, has to be connected to the punch as well, because there is a deliberate parallel in the story and Ennis even says it.

Ennis in the Reunion explains the punch as a lesson to Jack.

 He clearly disregarded Ennis's 'I'm not no queer' when Ennis was vulnerable from the knee in the nose bit. He had to make him hear good. It could simply have been simple f/f comforting, which is tantamount to a kiss. The Reunion is almost a continuation of what should have happened after the knee in the nose, but Ennis made a moment of reckoning-It was the first moment of his trek back down the scary mountain to the tame ranch dogs below-the straights.

Offline ZacharyG

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Re: The Reunion
« Reply #4840 on: August 14, 2017, 03:23:52 AM »
Thanks for explaining that.

Offline BJ

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Re: The Reunion
« Reply #4841 on: August 17, 2017, 09:52:44 PM »
To comment on what action caused Ennis's comment and later-I believe- the punch: Jack was ministering to Ennis, f/f, obviously, later. He had a bloody nose and Jack was stemming it. He was taking care of him. So that kind of clears up what was happening there.  He may have trying to sooth, kiss, etc. The key is the action was-well, possibly in Ennis's mind, girlish.
Ang Lee had Jake G whisper 'sweetie' in the actual film scene-and next moment, you can see the rage in Ennis/Heath's face. Listen close, gang. It's there.
So he interpprreted it in much that same way-Jack was ministering/nurturing, surely in Ennis's eyes, not being a guy.

And it HAS to be connected to 'I'm not no queer' in the one time scene, because the parallel Ennis gives later is it's a parallel to Ennis punching his brother to make him hear good. The only thing spoken about sex on the mountain is 'I'm not no queer'-then Ennis punches Jack later (connect to punching his brother), so whatever happened in the 'one time' incident, has to be connected to the punch as well, because there is a deliberate parallel in the story and Ennis even says it.

Ennis in the Reunion explains the punch as a lesson to Jack.

 He clearly disregarded Ennis's 'I'm not no queer' when Ennis was vulnerable from the knee in the nose bit. He had to make him hear good. It could simply have been simple f/f comforting, which is tantamount to a kiss. The Reunion is almost a continuation of what should have happened after the knee in the nose, but Ennis made a moment of reckoning-It was the first moment of his trek back down the scary mountain to the tame ranch dogs below-the straights.

Jeez, guys, this is so f*ed up... I can't handle any of this... Where is the love in this? Why and how did Ennis love Jack in this? Why had Jack love Ennis in this?...

This is just to comment on these ideas...

Offline BJ

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Re: The Reunion
« Reply #4842 on: August 17, 2017, 10:12:58 PM »
There is a bit in the Reunion scene - actually at the Siesta scene - which i am confused about. It would be nice to hear what others think of this.

At the motel, during the shots where Ennis is in focus - i wonder why Jack looks so scary. Why he doesn't even move... Eyes closed, no emotion, in the dark? It should be some happy time, Jack looks so happy to be reunited with Ennis and asks him about what they will do about it now. He's full of hope, yes. I can imagine he is in the same state as back on Brokeback when Aguire told them to come back - he is just convinced that it will all work out and they will be together. I suppose he does not have any idea of what kind of odds there might ever / even be. So, Ennis' answer must come as a surprise and shock. I just cannot think otherwise. But Jack's reaction is practically non-existent. No body movement, no head movement, not even blinking or opening the eyes or even smoking - nothing! I swear he doesn't even breathe! Even when Ennis / Heath takes a draw at his cigarette his head moves and pushes Jack's / Jake's slightly - no reaction at all...

Was it done on purpose as kind of foreshadowing? Is this just a imperfection in an otherwise perfect movie? Or is this a puppet instead of the actor?

Offline BJ

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Re: The Reunion
« Reply #4843 on: August 23, 2017, 06:24:13 PM »
Soooo......  ::) *thumbtwiddling*

Offline CellarDweller115

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Re: The Reunion
« Reply #4844 on: August 25, 2017, 09:45:00 PM »
There is a bit in the Reunion scene - actually at the Siesta scene - which i am confused about. It would be nice to hear what others think of this.

At the motel, during the shots where Ennis is in focus - i wonder why Jack looks so scary. Why he doesn't even move... Eyes closed, no emotion, in the dark? It should be some happy time, Jack looks so happy to be reunited with Ennis and asks him about what they will do about it now. He's full of hope, yes. I can imagine he is in the same state as back on Brokeback when Aguire told them to come back - he is just convinced that it will all work out and they will be together. I suppose he does not have any idea of what kind of odds there might ever / even be. So, Ennis' answer must come as a surprise and shock. I just cannot think otherwise. But Jack's reaction is practically non-existent. No body movement, no head movement, not even blinking or opening the eyes or even smoking - nothing! I swear he doesn't even breathe! Even when Ennis / Heath takes a draw at his cigarette his head moves and pushes Jack's / Jake's slightly - no reaction at all...

Was it done on purpose as kind of foreshadowing? Is this just a imperfection in an otherwise perfect movie? Or is this a puppet instead of the actor?



I think on some level there was no reaction from Jack because even though he wanted "the sweet life", he knew what kind of man Ennis was, and Ennis was never gonna leave his wife and daughters.