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BetterMost, Wyoming & Brokeback Mountain Forum  |  Our BetterMost Community  |  The Polling Place (Moderator: David In Indy)  |  Topic: How Did Jack Die? 0 Residents and 2 Guests are viewing this topic. « previous next »
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Author Topic: How Did Jack Die?  (Read 28080 times)
Phillip Dampier
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« on: May 16, 2006, 03:29:20 pm »

This poll came as a suggestion in e-mail from one of our new members.  It is perhaps THE question more people talk about than any other in Brokeback Mountain.
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« Reply #1 on: May 16, 2006, 04:04:24 pm »

Jack died???!!

 Afro
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« Reply #2 on: May 16, 2006, 04:21:33 pm »

Good idea for a poll. But Phillip, if it's not too late you might want to add an option for agnostics -- those who think we aren't supposed to know the answer.
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« Reply #3 on: May 16, 2006, 04:47:23 pm »

While I think a definitive answer isn't necessary to feel the full impact of the tragedy, which is that Jack died because of Ennis' fears (he wouldn't have died at that particular time in whatever way it was he died if Ennis had done what he wanted), I maintain that it was the tire iron.  I maintain this because I think the Jimbo/bar scene was intended to foreshadow it.  But I also concede that I could very well be wrong. 
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« Reply #4 on: May 16, 2006, 05:03:07 pm »

Good idea for a poll. But Phillip, if it's not too late you might want to add an option for agnostics -- those who think we aren't supposed to know the answer.

Ditto.  I support this whole heartly. 
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« Reply #5 on: May 17, 2006, 07:43:27 pm »

Ditto.  I support this whole heartly. 
I concur. Like Ennis, we cannot know with certainty how Jack died, and this is part of what makes the story so haunting.
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« Reply #6 on: May 18, 2006, 11:48:22 am »

     There is a part in the book that concludes that Ennis believes without doubt that it was the tire iron.  When Jack's father says on page 282 of Open Range, 'But like most a Jack's ideas, it never come to pass.'  So now he (Ennis) knew it had been the tire iron."   But how he knew isn't clear. 

     I believe that Ennis' fear from the childhood experience of seeing poor Earle murdered was so deep seated that he could never overcome it and it led him to believe "It had been the tire iron", but he had no real way of knowing for sure which is why the story ends with, "There was some open space between what he knew and what he tried to believe, but nothing could be done about it.."   

     The scene of Jack being murdered was a flash in Ennis' imagination, a flash fed by that deep seated fear.  I also felt the Lureen believed what she has been told: that Jack was killed by the exploding tire.  Her difficulty when speaking with Ennis arises only when she realizes that Ennis and Jack herded sheep on Brokeback Mt where Jack wanted his ashes left.  Her anger toward Ennis is the realization that he, not she, was closer to Jack.  She is also hurt by this fact which is why she hung up on him so abruptly.

     What do I believe about how Jack died?   I don't think there is any way to really know; all I know is it's the saddest damn thing that could have happened, but the accident and the murder are both real possibilities and I miss Jack like the devil misses heaven.

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« Reply #7 on: May 18, 2006, 11:56:10 am »

Like Ennis, we cannot know with certainty how Jack died, and this is part of what makes the story so haunting.

Yes, exactly, but see post below for why I agree.

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« Reply #8 on: May 19, 2006, 08:22:18 am »

Jack died???!!

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Only in the story/movie, RouxB! He's alive in our hearts!!

~ j U d E
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« Reply #9 on: May 19, 2006, 07:22:15 pm »

I don't know myself....kind of have mixed emotions on the subject...
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« Reply #10 on: May 21, 2006, 09:13:55 am »

Good idea for a poll. But Phillip, if it's not too late you might want to add an option for agnostics -- those who think we aren't supposed to know the answer.
Ditto.  I support this whole heartly. 
I concur. Like Ennis, we cannot know with certainty how Jack died, and this is part of what makes the story so haunting.

I too think this poll needs to be ammended to include the fifth choice "We are not supposed to know how Jack died".  Two days ago I "wasn't there" but now I am....  helped in part by reading the first four pages of the 79 pages on the Dave Cullen Forum "Jack's Fate".

To paraphrase some of the excellent posters there, I believe that we are not supposed to know how Jack died, we are supposed to be in the same place Ennis is, and to quote from the final line in the story:  "There was some open space between what he knew and what he tried to believe, but nothing could be done about it, and if you can't fix it you've got to stand it.”

Here is a quote from the post by Carl, on Page 1 of that thread at DC Forum: 
While we may think it is important whether Jack was killed in accident or murdered...in the story it only matters that we know no more than Ennis.  Otherwise, how can we truly understand his pain?  Ennis only knows what is told to him. He can envision many truths, some obviously more ominous than others.  But, the only way we, as an audience are going to understand the anguish of this character is to know only as much as he did, and thereby go night after endless night trying to lose the horrible images of our imagination.
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« Reply #11 on: May 21, 2006, 10:56:07 am »

Nice post "J"... I agree.  We really can't know exactly how Jack died, however while I can understand how Ennis might feel and think, I do not have the fears and emotional difficulties with Jack's death that Ennis has.  Being who he is, Ennis has the greatest difficulity, but as say, "a friend" of Ennis, I can more easily look at the situation and come to the reasonable conclusion that there's no way to know how Jack died.  I guess it's a matter of degrees.  Ennis will naturally be haunted by the Jack's death more than anyone else while the rest of us can move on more easily.

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« Reply #12 on: May 21, 2006, 11:22:14 am »

Well put, J ... and Carl. There are several ways this movie gets us not just to understand the characters' emotions, but to actually share them. This is one of them. (Another one is keeping love scenes scarce and abbreviated, so we always feel there's never enough time, too.)

Originally I was a total agnostic, thinking it could go one way the other. After reading other discussions, I'm still uncertain but, if I had to choose one, I would pick murder. There are lots of ominous signs, such as the dead sheep, pointing that way.

But that still leaves me exactly where Ennis is: leaning toward murder but not knowing for sure. And not knowing (according to a bunch of people in this very situation, whom I interviewed years ago) is more torturous even than knowing the worst.
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« Reply #13 on: May 21, 2006, 02:45:50 pm »

Re: How Did Jack Die

With his boots on.....
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« Reply #14 on: May 21, 2006, 03:09:35 pm »

I too think this poll needs to be ammended to include the fifth choice "We are not supposed to know how Jack died".  Two days ago I "wasn't there" but now I am....  helped in part by reading the first four pages of the 79 pages on the Dave Cullen Forum "Jack's Fate".

To paraphrase some of the excellent posters there, I believe that we are not supposed to know how Jack died, we are supposed to be in the same place Ennis is, and to quote from the final line in the story:  "There was some open space between what he knew and what he tried to believe, but nothing could be done about it, and if you can't fix it you've got to stand it.”

Here is a quote from the post by Carl, on Page 1 of that thread at DC Forum: 
While we may think it is important whether Jack was killed in accident or murdered...in the story it only matters that we know no more than Ennis.  Otherwise, how can we truly understand his pain?  Ennis only knows what is told to him. He can envision many truths, some obviously more ominous than others.  But, the only way we, as an audience are going to understand the anguish of this character is to know only as much as he did, and thereby go night after endless night trying to lose the horrible images of our imagination.


Good point J!
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« Reply #15 on: May 21, 2006, 05:41:42 pm »

While I think a definitive answer isn't necessary to feel the full impact of the tragedy, which is that Jack died because of Ennis' fears (he wouldn't have died at that particular time in whatever way it was he died if Ennis had done what he wanted), I maintain that it was the tire iron.  I maintain this because I think the Jimbo/bar scene was intended to foreshadow it.  But I also concede that I could very well be wrong. 

I agree ednbarby. Except the Jimbo/bar scene also serves to precipitate Jack into marriage.
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« Reply #16 on: May 21, 2006, 07:03:20 pm »

I love how many scenes have multiple objectives and meanings and points. There's a thread going on about how many different purposes the 4th of July scene might have -- there's a bunch -- and that's one that some people consider one of the weaker scenes!

Back to Jimbo: It also shows Jack missing Ennis, since from a distance (a LONG distance) Jimbo looks kind of like Ennis. Well, same color hat and shirt, anyway.
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« Reply #17 on: May 21, 2006, 07:17:56 pm »

I agree ednbarby. Except the Jimbo/bar scene also serves to precipitate Jack into marriage.

And I agree right back!  And with you, too, Katherine - this scene does serve multiple purposes, and I agree that being the catalyst for Jack getting married (and spending a year nearly starving being the catalyst for finding a wealthy wife) is an important one.
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« Reply #18 on: May 22, 2006, 01:35:41 am »

Re: How Did Jack Die

With his boots on.....


Good one DecaturTxCowboy....  Love your humor.

Rayn
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« Reply #19 on: May 22, 2006, 07:31:40 am »

"I'm the son of rage and love." Just SPOT ON to describe Jack! Did you find this yourself? (*Bows in admiration*)
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« Reply #20 on: May 29, 2006, 10:31:01 am »

Oh boy, how many times have I (along with the rest of the world) gone over this one?  I,ve thought about it until my head hurts,and the more I think about the explanation given by Jacks wife, the more it doesn,t make sense. (someone enlighten me if I,m wrong please).  He was supposidly killed by an exploding tyre yes?  He was changing a FLAT tyre. Presumably he would have had a spare tyre in the trunk, and unless that was flat too, he,d have just been able to change it and go.  So how did it explode?  He wouldnt have had to pump it up, unless it was flat too, so it doesnt make much sense.  The scene that Ennis saw in his mind, was I think, how he imagined it. I,m sure it had something to do with Lureens dad. He hated Jack from day one.  He was never going to be good enough for his precious daughter.  He probably found out somehow, not sure how, that he was gay as well.  Remember too that he was an important man, he had a buisness and reputation to mantain.  I certainly think that Jack was beaten up, probably dumped somewhere on the side of the road, out in the middle of no where and told to get lost and never come back.  It was easier to let everyone THINK he was dead, including poor Ennis.  I dont know, I might be totally wrong.  Jack might really have been killed by the tyre or murdered by some gay bashers, but I dont suppose we,ll ever really know will we?  One more thing.  The author said that people are sick to death of disaster and unhappy endings.  What does she give us?  More disaster!!  Everything doesnt always have to end in disaster.  I know it,s rare, but sometimes people have happy endings.  If anyone deserved that after everything they,d been through, it was Jack and Ennis. Us too. Cry Cry Lifes a bitch sometimes. Cry
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« Reply #21 on: May 29, 2006, 11:00:33 am »

My two cents worth??

Jack did go back to Childress and told Lureen that he wanted a divorce and that he was going to ranch up with Randall.    Lureen was naturally upset and went crying to Daddy.    L.D. like any father wanted to get back at the man who hurt his daughter.   Unfortunately I think he sent his rough mechanics out to intercept Jack on the way to Randalls.    They of course go too far and leave not knowing that Jack was mortally wounded.     When Jack is found, it is arranged to look like an accident.  After all,  Lureen and her father are well known in town and they don't want a scandal. 

I feel this way because Lureens speech about the Tire incident seemed too rehearsed.   As if she had to recite it to everyone who called the house to offer condolences.     She certainly wouldn't tell people that her queer husband tried to leave her and her daddy's goons killed him.

Poor Jack.    I think even if he did divorce Lureen and Randall agreed to Ranch up with him, that after a while, Jack would resume those fishing trips.   He'd just tell Randall that he was going up to visit his parents.   

Too bad he didn't live to see Ennis in November.     It would have been interesting to see if either one of them had any new outlooks on the situation and what to do about it.   

Poor Jack.   Poor Ennis.   Cry
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« Reply #22 on: May 29, 2006, 12:15:22 pm »

Hi, thanks for that.  Yes her speech DID seem like a well rehearsed reply, I,ve always thought that.  And I think your right about randall too.  Even if Jack had ranched up with him, he, have stiil seen Ennis, and who knows? Maybe he,d have dumped the ugly rancher, (he was NO match for Ennis lookswise was he?) and persuaded Ennis to come up to his parents place with him.  I guess we,ll never know now. Also a lot of what was in the main film, ie the cinema isnt on the dvd I think, like the scene with the mechanics.  You see them in the trailer on line but not the dvd.  Poor Ennis,s sad little face, mine too. Cry Cry Cry Cry  If ever there was a match made in heaven it was those two.  Cry Cry
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« Reply #23 on: May 29, 2006, 04:10:59 pm »

Well, the only time the Story Lureen (no maiden name given) talks in Annie Proulx's original story is when Ennis calls the very same Childress, Texas phone number he had called and left a message that Alma had divorced him.

Since Jack high-tailed/red-lined it all the way up to Wyoming for nothing, he had misunderstood why Ennis left a message about the divorce in the first place. He thought that meant Ennis was free to be with Jack the rest of his life.

But, the way that Lureen talked to Ennis on the phone was politely but cold about the truck tire changing accident. Lureen's father had died before the Story Jack ever worked for the farm equipment company. And, even then, Lureen was his boss. The Story Jack did not work for Lureen until quite a while after the scene between Ennis and Alma in her kitchen at Thanksgiving. There is no Story Thanksgiving in Childress, Texas.

If Jack had really died in a truck tire changing accident, it could have been the fact that he had a flat on a farm equipment company truck while making a delivery or something. Who knows?

Other than people talking about the Story Jack having died, the Story Ennis NEVER saw proof of Jack's death. He just took their word for it.
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« Reply #24 on: May 29, 2006, 04:27:57 pm »

Well, the screenplay contains alot more than the original story.   So for discussions sake, you can't discount all that was added for the movie.   Anne Proulx was satisfied with the Screenplay/movie after all.  She raved about it.   So I think it is safe to call Ann Hathaways character "Lureen Newsome Twist".

And we don't see Jacks actual death.   The vision is totally in Ennis's imagination.   But the point I was making is that Jack certainly could have met his death the way I described.   Jack was drinking alot and being careless.  He may have gotten drunk and spilled the beans (no pun intended) to Lureen about wanting a divorce.

Again, ALL speculation.  Even Anne Proulx isn't talking.
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« Reply #25 on: May 29, 2006, 07:01:03 pm »

While the movie Lureen had a slight tear on her cheek while talking to Ennis on the phone, the politely cold tone that the actress used for her voice was like the book . And Les said that Lureen lied to Ennis on the phone. But, in the interview, Lee did not say how much of what she said was actually a lie.

Since, in the book at the motel in 1967, Ennis said that in so many words his father-in-law woud pay for him to get lost, it could be that Lureen who took on the persona of how Jack described her father and she divorced Jack and paid him to get lost, too.

Since I know for a fact that people can bury their dead on a family plot and not have to even have the proof that a container supposedly containing a deceased person's ashes actually has them, Jack could have agreed to the divorce if she would help him "Let be, Let be" so that he coulld "quit Ennis" and get on with his life.

Jack was really tired of chasing after Ennis for 16 years and Ennis never making a commitment to their relationship. And we all know that he said so, no matter which source we use for our discussion.
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« Reply #26 on: May 30, 2006, 02:34:39 am »

We don't know. We are free to think what we want. The only one who's sure is Ennis (in the short story). Far be it froim me to make up my mind about anything the author has not told me.

Er...yeah.

One thing that is disturbing about Jack being murdered, is that that would mean Ennis was right all the time, wouldn't it? Maybe. Maybe not.

Nothing like closure.

You lucky people who know. You don't have to write short stories...my short stories are sure, but I am not. For all I know, Jack got picked up by a sailor once, and got killed by an exploding tire...and Ennis remained faithful in all senses of the word to his memory.  And his kid was an idfot...just ask me, I'll tell you everything!
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« Reply #27 on: May 30, 2006, 12:35:47 pm »

Jack's son at age 15, according to Annie Poulx, had dyslexia and it was in 1983 when Jack complained about Lureen not contacting his school about the learning disability problem.

Well, I have known and still know a number of people who have dyslexia and they certainly are not idiots.

Two of them are teachers and in high school and university they were straight "A," aka 4.0 (4.0 being a perfect grade), students. 

Ennis just thinks he knows for sure how Jack died and he does not believe what Lureen told him. Besides, Ang Lee said that Lureen lied to Ennis.
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« Reply #28 on: May 30, 2006, 01:32:27 pm »

While the movie Lureen had a slight tear on her cheek while talking to Ennis on the phone, the politely cold tone that the actress used for her voice was like the book . And Les said that Lureen lied to Ennis on the phone. But, in the interview, Lee did not say how much of what she said was actually a lie.

Since, in the book at the motel in 1967, Ennis said that in so many words his father-in-law woud pay for him to get lost, it could be that Lureen who took on the persona of how Jack described her father and she divorced Jack and paid him to get lost, too.

Since I know for a fact that people can bury their dead on a family plot and not have to even have the proof that a container supposedly containing a deceased person's ashes actually has them, Jack could have agreed to the divorce if she would help him "Let be, Let be" so that he coulld "quit Ennis" and get on with his life.



Jack was really tired of chasing after Ennis for 16 years and Ennis never making a commitment to their relationship. And we all know that he said so, no matter which source we use for our discussion.

Exactly right. I,ve always thought what you said.  Jacks father in law DID say he,d pay him money to get lost, that was said after their renunion when they went back to the mountain.  Laureens speech did sound too well rehearsed.  Maybe your right.  Maybe he was tired of Ennis never commiting fully to their relationship and just decided to fake his own death so that Ennis could get on with his life.  Thing is though, Jack WAS his life, so without him, what life does he have? And as you rightly said, Ennis had no proof Jack was dead, he just took their word for it.  Just think Jack could still be alive and Poor Ennis is miserable for nothing!! Shocked Shocked Shocked  Cry Cry
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« Reply #29 on: May 30, 2006, 05:30:37 pm »

Up until about the time that the last meeting took place, the Story Ennis got jobs at places where he could quit on short notice. He did that to be able to spend a week at a time twice a year with Jack.

While the movie has a miserable ending for Ennis Del Mar and he has tears in his eyes, it is not exactly so with Annie Proulx's original short story.
After Ennis and Jack left Brokeback Mountain in August 1963, Ennis NEVER went back up there. (In the book, he did go back to Signal and work at the Stoutamire ranch where he was working in 1983 when they met for the last time.

When Jack said, "All we got is Brokeback Moutain," he was speaking metaphorically; because Ennis only wanted to camp out up in the high altitude of the Wyoming mountains every time they got together.

Here are the opening paragraphs of her original work which was included with what had been submitted to the New Yorker Magazine:

Quote
Ennis Del Mar wakes before five, wind rocking the trailer, hissing in around the aluminum door and window frames. The shirts hanging on a nail shudder slightly in the draft. He gets up, scratching the grey wedge of belly and pubic hair, shuffles to the gas burner, pours leftover coffee in a chipped enamel pan; the flame swathes it in blue. He turns on the tap and urinates in the sink, pulls on his shirt and jeans, his worn boots, stamping the heels against the floor to get them full on. The wind booms down the curved length of the trailer and under its roaring passage he can hear the scratching of fine gravel and sand. It could be bad on the highway with the horse trailer. He has to be packed and away from the place that morning. Again the ranch is on the market and they've shipped out the last of the horses, paid everybody off the day before, the owner saying, "Give em to the real estate shark, I'm out a here," dropping the keys in Ennis's hand. He might have to stay with his married daughter until he picks up another job, yet he is suffused with a sense of pleasure because Jack Twist was in his dream.
   The stale coffee is boiling up but he catches it before it goes over the side, pours it into a stained cup and blows on the black liquid, lets a panel of the dream slide forward. If he does not force his attention on it, it might stoke the day, rewarm that old, cold time on the mountain when they owned the world and nothing seemed wrong. The wind strikes the trailer like a load of dirt coming off a dump truck, eases, dies, leaves a temporary silence.


Notice what the narrative says about Ennis's dream.
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« Reply #30 on: June 04, 2006, 09:29:53 am »

"I'm the son of rage and love." Just SPOT ON to describe Jack! Did you find this yourself? (*Bows in admiration*)

It's from Green Day's epic rock operetta, "Jesus of Suburbia."  There are several lines in there and in other songs on the same album that aptly describe Jack, like "And there's nothing wrong with me - this is how I'm supposed to be" and "In a land of make-believe, they don't believe in me" and "I leave behind this hurricane of fucking lies" and "I've walked this line a million and one fucking times, but not this time" and "I'm the patron saint of their denial" and "I'm walking on the line that divides me somewhere in my mind, on the borderline of the edge and where I walk alone."

The very first line of "Jesus of Suburbia" is "I'm the son of rage and love."  And the very best one.

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« Reply #31 on: June 05, 2006, 11:48:34 am »

Quote
I agree ednbarby. Except the Jimbo/bar scene also serves to precipitate Jack into marriage.

How do you figure this? Was Jack trying to cover his tracks or something?

I agree that we are not supposed to know exactly how Jack died and for all we know, it could've been either way. It makes the story even more powerful and a nice benefit is that either way, be it a freak accident or a gay-bashing, the story flows beautifully.

(I have gone back and forth on which fate Jack met, as Ennis has, but lately, I've been thinking it was the tire iron.)
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« Reply #32 on: June 05, 2006, 02:50:14 pm »

I think if we were really supposed to know how he died, we wouldn't need to have this discussion. Don't get me wrong, it's not a bad discussion, I'm just saying that I don't think either Annie Proulx or anyone involved with the movie intended for us to know for sure.
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« Reply #33 on: June 05, 2006, 03:53:46 pm »

I think Jack's death was an accident. But Proulx is ambiguous about it to show Ennis' state of mind. Ennis has no proof whatsoever to think that Jack was indeed killed. It's all in his mind, it's part of his fears and perceptions of life. 
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« Reply #34 on: June 05, 2006, 07:42:27 pm »

From the time I first saw the movie Dec. 31 until about two months ago I was squarely in the gay-bash camp, but I've since switched to the "we'll never know for sure" camp.  That's what too much time spent on Internet discussion boards will do to you. 
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« Reply #35 on: June 05, 2006, 08:23:52 pm »

I think if we were really supposed to know how he died, we wouldn't need to have this discussion. Don't get me wrong, it's not a bad discussion, I'm just saying that I don't think either Annie Proulx or anyone involved with the movie intended for us to know for sure.

Bingo!  Well said.  I think Ang Lee wanted it to be unambiguous, but as he tried to make it work, the story wouldn't let him.  Grin  So, in agreement with the writers and screenplay writers and Fate itself, Ang Lee gave in and it ended ambiguously.

I personally think it was an accident, but agree we'll never know.
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« Reply #36 on: June 19, 2006, 02:12:29 am »

Phillip -

I think Jack was killed in a gay bashing attack.

It looks like many people here agree with me.
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« Reply #37 on: July 09, 2006, 01:38:27 pm »

I think Jack's death was an accident. But Proulx is ambiguous about it to show Ennis' state of mind. Ennis has no proof whatsoever to think that Jack was indeed killed. It's all in his mind, it's part of his fears and perceptions of life. 

I agree with opinionsta. 

If Jack were murdered, then the tire that exploded, the rim and the rest of the scene would have had to be staged by this killers and I don't think such a thing is as believable as a simple accident.  I reason that it was an accident and the rest was in Ennis' mind, a product of his childhood fears of gay bashing that had been seeded so well by his cruel father. In the book it actually says when Ennis talks to Jack's father, he comes to the conclusion that Jack was killed, but I believe, although he will sort it out in time, he can never know for sure, nor can we.

Rayn
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« Reply #38 on: July 21, 2006, 02:03:11 pm »

I beleive Jack died in a gay-bashing because it fit so well with the story's theme of homophobia.  From Earl's death to Aguirre's discusted look to Jimbo's put down, they all are hostile.  Jack could easily be shot by Aguirre or bash to death by Jimbo and his gang of clowns.  Plus, the things we seem to fear the most often happen to the people we love the most.  But like everyone else, including Ennis, we will never know for sure.
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« Reply #39 on: July 22, 2006, 02:15:02 am »

Jack could easily be .... bashed to death by Jimbo and his gang of clowns. 


Murdered by a gang of rodeo clowns!  Shocked

I can't help but see them all in costume too.  Damn, now there's an image only the "Killer Clown" John Wayne Gacy would enjoy.  What a twisted idea, but we all know, it's possible in real life too.  Yikes... I don't like to focus too long on such f**ked up true to life things, I'm outa here.   Later! 

Rayn


 
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« Reply #40 on: July 22, 2006, 02:09:30 pm »

I still think it was the bashing.  He could be driving when the wheel blew up.  That happens often in back roads.  Then when he removes the rim, with a tire iron of course, but before he repairs the tire, he had the worst stroke of luck ever.  Someome (perhaps killer clowns...LOL) who knew his nature came along with a tire iron, or maybe Jack's own tire iron, and beat him to death.  Then report the "accident" hours later to the police to make themselves seem innocent.  And if there were no eyewitnesses it would seem like an accident.  Maybe were taking this subject a little too seriously.
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« Reply #41 on: July 24, 2006, 11:23:15 pm »

I'm late to this discussion, but have to add my two cents. In the movie (more than from the story) I got the distinct impression that what Ennis thinks happened is what actually happened. Lureen's sing-song, rote telling of Jack's end is what gives Ennis that idea. When she hears that Jack and Ennis herded sheep on Brokeback back in '63, we feel that she now understands that Ennis Del Mar was Jack's main man. And we feel--or at least I did--that Ennis knows that she knows. They are talking in code to one another, and they both know it.
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« Reply #42 on: September 01, 2006, 03:29:11 pm »


Bumping for more votes.   Wink
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« Reply #43 on: September 13, 2006, 01:54:28 pm »

From the bits of cut sceens I have seen in the trailer, etc, the story I have developed is that Jack did have a flat tire, and Randall gave him a ride to a garage and dropped him off, there was some display of affection shown and the mechanics picked up on it. Jack rode with them back to the truck and was lynched there and the tire was purposly exploded to cover the crime.

In the story, L.D. Newson dies before Jack does, and Lureen inherits the business, Jack getting some vague managerial title.

Once I saw a post on the yahoo board that the split rims Proulx would be refering to were no longer manufactured after about the late 60's and the last truck we saw him in was later than that. 

That's my two cents.
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« Reply #44 on: September 13, 2006, 02:46:03 pm »

If you have the DVD, play that scene in stop frame.  It is Jake in the scene, so as far as the film is concerned it WAS a hate crime, because that's what Ang decided, and we can't really change that.  The only point of contention, is whether the scene actually happened or was it an imagined scene by Ennis.
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« Reply #45 on: October 23, 2006, 03:25:05 am »

Yes, if one only watches the movie, there can be some doubt about how Jack died, but what came first, the Story or the Movie?  The movie is based nearly 90% on the actual short story and the story leaves little doubt.  Ennis believes Jack was murdered, but he doesn't really know and no one ever will except the people who found Jack after the accident or murdered him, if he was indeed murdered.

From the story:

Jack's Daddy:

"....He had some half-baked idea the two a you was goin a come up here, build a log cabin and help me run this ranch and bring it up.  Then, this spring he's got another one's goin a come up here with him and build a place and help run the ranch, some ranch neighbor a his from down in Texas.  He's goin a split up with his wife and come back here.  So he says.  But like most a Jack's ideas it never come to pass."

Narative:

"So now he (Ennis) knew it had been the tire iron."

Narative:  End of the story:

"There was some open space between what he knew and what he tried to believe, but nothing could be done about it, and if you can't fix it you've got to stand it."


Comment: From the book, it's clear to me at least, that Ennis doesn't know how Jack died, but believes it was "the tired iron" / murder, but like I say, no one but the people who found Jack dead from an accident or found him murdered or the murderers themselves, if he was murdered, will ever know. 

I believe Lureen.  It was a sad accident.  I really hate the gnawing ache the rises in my stomach when I think he was brutally murdered.  It's sad enough that he died so suddenly leaving Ennis without him, sad enough for me.  I believe Lureen.  But belief, being what it is...often of the imagination, often not based on facts or reality... is a personal choice. 

I respect Ennis' choice to believe what he believes.  I respect anyone else's choice too.  That's part of the beauty of fiction, isn't it...

Rayn


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« Reply #46 on: October 23, 2006, 03:36:32 am »

PS: In the book, when Lureen is telling Ennis about how the accident happened, it reads, "No (thought Ennis), he thought, they got him with the tire iron."  page 279

Then on page 280

"The huge sadness of the northern plains rolled down on him.  He didn't know which way it was, the tire iron or a real accident.  Under the wind drone he heard steel slamming off bone, the hollow chatter of a settling tire rim."

Comment:

There is a lot in the book that isn't in the movie and for me, to get the whole picture, I have to consider both, because the question of how Jack really died burned in my brain for days before the book arrived and I read the story.

I hope this helps and again, I say, I respect whatever conclusion others come too.  That's ok.  We all have our own way of seeing.

Rayn
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« Reply #47 on: October 24, 2006, 02:35:04 pm »

I still believe he was murdered but recently I had a dream that he committed suicide.  Since Jack is full of life and seem so positive, I thought it was ridiculous that he would take his own life.  But could lost of hope driven him to do so?  What do you guys think?
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« Reply #48 on: October 24, 2006, 02:57:29 pm »

I still believe he was murdered but recently I had a dream that he committed suicide.  Since Jack is full of life and seem so positive, I thought it was ridiculous that he would take his own life.  But could lost of hope driven him to do so?  What do you guys think?

Clinical depression can certainly drive one to suicide, and what clinical depression is in my experience is the utter loss of all hope.  Doesn't matter how positive, vibrant, and full of life one is - once that sets in, the only thing many believe will end the pain of that loss is death.

My husband had a good pilot friend he played tennis with from time to time.  He shot himself to death in his bedroom about a year ago.  He was going through a divorce and had some financial problems and issues with a new girlfriend.  But by all other accounts, he had a pretty good life, was handsome and athletic and vigorous - all of it.  When a mutual friend called to say he had, with the police, found him, I was at first shocked.  But then I thought of little things Ed said about him from time to time - "Well, he drinks a lot."  (Sound familiar?)  And "He says he's been having trouble sleeping lately."  I even asked him once if he'd broached the subject with him that he might be depressed and need to see someone.  He said he did and he chewed him out for it.  "No shrink's telling me there's something wrong with my head.  Nothing I can't fix myself with more exercise and sleep."  Thank you, Tom Cruise.

Anyway, yes, I think it's possible.  I certainly see Jack as reaching a point where he really didn't give a s*** about much anymore.  Lureen's saying "He drank a lot" nearly broke my heart in two on actually my second viewing.  I don't see him as deliberately, purposefully killing himself, but I do see him as not caring whether he lived or died at some point.
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« Reply #49 on: October 24, 2006, 03:24:22 pm »

Clinical depression can certainly drive one to suicide, and what clinical depression is in my experience is the utter loss of all hope.  Doesn't matter how positive, vibrant, and full of life one is - once that sets in, the only thing many believe will end the pain of that loss is death.

My husband had a good pilot friend he played tennis with from time to time.  He shot himself to death in his bedroom about a year ago.  He was going through a divorce and had some financial problems and issues with a new girlfriend.  But by all other accounts, he had a pretty good life, was handsome and athletic and vigorous - all of it.  When a mutual friend called to say he had, with the police, found him, I was at first shocked.  But then I thought of little things Ed said about him from time to time - "Well, he drinks a lot."  (Sound familiar?)  And "He says he's been having trouble sleeping lately."  I even asked him once if he'd broached the subject with him that he might be depressed and need to see someone.  He said he did and he chewed him out for it.  "No shrink's telling me there's something wrong with my head.  Nothing I can't fix myself with more exercise and sleep."  Thank you, Tom Cruise.

Anyway, yes, I think it's possible.  I certainly see Jack as reaching a point where he really didn't give a s*** about much anymore.  Lureen's saying "He drank a lot" nearly broke my heart in two on actually my second viewing.  I don't see him as deliberately, purposefully killing himself, but I do see him as not caring whether he lived or died at some point.

Thanks for sharing you imput.  I'm sorry about your husband's friend.  Very sad and very unfortunate. Sounds too much like our Jack. 

Besides murder and accident, I think suicide might be a possible cause of Jack's death.  "He drinks a lot" that's one bad sign of depression.  Also, I always wonder why he tells his wife that he wanted to be cremated and ashes scattered on Brokeback Mountain.  Thought he was a bit young to tell his wife about his wake, unless he knows his end is near.  I don't know.  Do people leave death wishes at that age?  Laureen said, "He used to say..." so we know it's not really a writted will.
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« Reply #50 on: October 30, 2006, 09:47:28 am »

I don't think Jack was depressed. 

Recall that he told Ennis he was seeing a woman on the sly and he also told his father that he was going to bring a rancher neighbor with him, build a cabin and help him with the ranch.  That rancher was Randall and Jack had to be pretty happy with Randall if he told his father he was gonna bring him home with him.   

Jack was unhappy with the way things were with Ennis, but in the end, he was exploring other ways and other people as alternatives to Ennis even if he still loved Ennis.  He did love him, but was beginning to see the hopelessness of being with him any longer.   

I think suicide was the last thing on Jack's mind.  It seemed clear to me, that Jack was looking for someone who could love him more openly and completely than Ennis, he was looking for healthy alternatives to an unhealthy relationship, which is, I'm sad to say, what he had with Ennis in the end.

That's how I saw and read it.

Peace,
Rayn
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« Reply #51 on: November 26, 2006, 10:50:39 pm »

People are talking about just this on IMDb tonight Smiley  So poignant.
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« Reply #52 on: December 03, 2006, 11:52:28 pm »

I don't think Jack was depressed. 

Recall that he told Ennis he was seeing a woman on the sly and he also told his father that he was going to bring a rancher neighbor with him, build a cabin and help him with the ranch.  That rancher was Randall and Jack had to be pretty happy with Randall if he told his father he was gonna bring him home with him.   

Jack was unhappy with the way things were with Ennis, but in the end, he was exploring other ways and other people as alternatives to Ennis even if he still loved Ennis.  He did love him, but was beginning to see the hopelessness of being with him any longer.   

I think suicide was the last thing on Jack's mind.  It seemed clear to me, that Jack was looking for someone who could love him more openly and completely than Ennis, he was looking for healthy alternatives to an unhealthy relationship, which is, I'm sad to say, what he had with Ennis in the end.

That's how I saw and read it.

Peace,
Rayn

Rayn you are 100% right.    Jack was not depressed to the point of suicide.    Unhappy with the fact he couldn't have Ennis 100% of the time, thats a given. 

"He drank alot"  Yeah.  I can see that.   He was trapped in his "good life" in Texas.   In good life I mean financially.   Plus he had a son too.      I almost feel that if he hadn't had gotten married to Lureen, that he'd have eventually moved back to Wyoming to be closer to Ennis.   

No doubt that Jack was "happy enough" with Randall.  They had been getting together since 1978 right?    Thats 5 years together.    No wonder Jack mentioned him to his father.

As for that tire?    Not an accident.   Don't forget, Jack had money to buy new trucks all the time.   New trucks mean new tires.   New tires don't blow off the rim.

My guess is that Jack did indeed drink alot because he was unhappy that he was finally going to leave Ennis.      Jack was also known to be horny enough to look for sex in the wrong places at times.    Could Jacks secret have gotten out?      If Jack had a few too many drinks and made a pass at the wrong person, a violent homophobic redneck, then sure, that could have led to his attack.     And an attacker or attackers in a small town would definately try to cover it up to look like an accident.     Lureen was probably pitied in town if people thought her husband was queer.   Why not make Jacks death look like an accident to save her from the humiliation of her husband being beat to death as a queer?    She may have not known the truth of how he died.   Or she she didn't want to know the truth and easily accepted the tire iron story.
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« Reply #53 on: December 04, 2006, 03:27:03 am »

 Cry   Jack and Ennis will live forever in my heart   Cry
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« Reply #54 on: December 04, 2006, 04:27:21 am »

Clinical depression can certainly drive one to suicide, and what clinical depression is in my experience is the utter loss of all hope.  Doesn't matter how positive, vibrant, and full of life one is - once that sets in, the only thing many believe will end the pain of that loss is death.

My husband had a good pilot friend he played tennis with from time to time.  He shot himself to death in his bedroom about a year ago.  He was going through a divorce and had some financial problems and issues with a new girlfriend.  But by all other accounts, he had a pretty good life, was handsome and athletic and vigorous - all of it.  When a mutual friend called to say he had, with the police, found him, I was at first shocked.  But then I thought of little things Ed said about him from time to time - "Well, he drinks a lot."  (Sound familiar?)  And "He says he's been having trouble sleeping lately."  I even asked him once if he'd broached the subject with him that he might be depressed and need to see someone.  He said he did and he chewed him out for it.  "No shrink's telling me there's something wrong with my head.  Nothing I can't fix myself with more exercise and sleep."  Thank you, Tom Cruise.

Anyway, yes, I think it's possible.  I certainly see Jack as reaching a point where he really didn't give a s*** about much anymore.  Lureen's saying "He drank a lot" nearly broke my heart in two on actually my second viewing.  I don't see him as deliberately, purposefully killing himself, but I do see him as not caring whether he lived or died at some point.
  regards your statement, about tom cruise,,,he is a twit...he calls other people glib.  he is in a position to do so much harm to people with his stupid remarks.  no amount of money or stardom is qualifying him to be a spokesman for anything of a mental healt person..........i couldnt believe he had brooke shields as a guest at his wedding...she is certainly a bigger person than he will ever be...as some one that has lost a beloved family member to suicide, and mental illness, im not sure what the answer is for that problem god knows, if i  would have known what to do i would have done that...but that stupid idiot certainly doesnt know what he can do to others that hear what he has to say and acts accordingly.....as to the jack thing, it never occurred to me he may have done that, i felt like he was killed, but that is just my opinion.  partly because of ennis's idea, and also the way that lureen sounded like she was telling a story,that had been rehearsed in order to make the truth of it seem acceptable as the story she told.....janice
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« Reply #55 on: December 04, 2006, 05:53:12 pm »

Rayn you are 100% right.    Jack was not depressed to the point of suicide.    Unhappy with the fact he couldn't have Ennis 100% of the time, thats a given. 

"He drank alot"  Yeah.  I can see that.   He was trapped in his "good life" in Texas.   In good life I mean financially.   Plus he had a son too.      I almost feel that if he hadn't had gotten married to Lureen, that he'd have eventually moved back to Wyoming to be closer to Ennis.   

No doubt that Jack was "happy enough" with Randall.  They had been getting together since 1978 right?    Thats 5 years together.    No wonder Jack mentioned him to his father.

As for that tire?    Not an accident.   Don't forget, Jack had money to buy new trucks all the time.   New trucks mean new tires.   New tires don't blow off the rim.

My guess is that Jack did indeed drink alot because he was unhappy that he was finally going to leave Ennis.      Jack was also known to be horny enough to look for sex in the wrong places at times.    Could Jacks secret have gotten out?      If Jack had a few too many drinks and made a pass at the wrong person, a violent homophobic redneck, then sure, that could have led to his attack.     And an attacker or attackers in a small town would definately try to cover it up to look like an accident.     Lureen was probably pitied in town if people thought her husband was queer.   Why not make Jacks death look like an accident to save her from the humiliation of her husband being beat to death as a queer?    She may have not known the truth of how he died.   Or she she didn't want to know the truth and easily accepted the tire iron story.

That's a very good point.  Jack was a little reckless sometimes which might lead to his attack.  I still think suicide is a possibility but not very likely.  This makes me think more that he was murdered, and yes it is more sad to have him murdered than to be killed in an accident.
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« Reply #56 on: December 04, 2006, 06:09:05 pm »

How come I've not voted in this one before?!?  Shocked

Anyway, I voted for what I do feel in my heart happened - a gay bashing attack.

But in the short story and the film both, I also think we aren't meant to ever know for sure.
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« Reply #57 on: February 21, 2007, 10:38:34 pm »

bumping because this was a really interesting discussion
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« Reply #58 on: March 26, 2007, 09:42:00 am »

Bump

Annie Proulx wrote:

Ennis didn't know about the accident for months until his postcard to Jack saying that November still looked like the first chance came back stamped DECEASED.

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« Reply #59 on: June 11, 2007, 09:50:14 am »

Hello Everyone,

It's been awhile since I posted anything on here about Brokeback Mt, but here I am again.  Thanks DavidinHartford for agreeing with me 100%... that's always a good feeling, I mean it.

      Now, I 'm trying to get it together to go to Alberta for the "Pilgrimage" and it hit me, like I know it has others, Jack isn't dead.  Jack never existed, nor did Ennis.   They 're characters in a story.  And then I think, wait a minute, I'm fixin' ta travel from Korea, not just to see friends and family, but to make a Pilgrimage to Alberta to see where Jack and Ennis lived...  ah.....  YEAH, LIVED....Then I realize where they are, in the minds of millions, and more, they are alive in many men who lived as they did in the past and remember how far we have come as a human rights minority.  Jack and Ennis stepped into Annie's mind then on to the page and into film because they are real to her as anyone you or I know well in our own lives.

     They call us like old friends who want to visit and spend time together (& I watch the film again).  And now because of where they live, people from all parts of the country and world are taking the time and money to get to know each other, have new experiences, make new friendships, perhaps some that will last a long time.  I sit back a moment and marvel at the power of the artist.  It is the power of literature and the magic a good writer works in the heart and mind that calls us to stronger connections with one another, so in that wonderful way, Jack is still with us, Ennis too...

Hope to see ya soon,
Rayn
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« Reply #60 on: June 12, 2007, 04:54:57 pm »

Hi Rayn,

Great to see you here Bud!  And, thank you for that lovely post.  I regret that I'm not going to be able to go to Alberta, but I did go to the BBQ.  And, it was a once-in-a-lifetime wonderful experience.  I'm sure you'll feel the same way about your trip to Alberta.  And, going to the BBQ was a lot like a pilgrimage for me too.  Riding in Ennis's truck and seeing all the memorabilia from the movie were just incredible opportunities.

Keep us posted about your travels!

cheers
Amanda
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« Reply #61 on: June 12, 2007, 05:16:53 pm »

Thanks atz75! 

You rode in Ennis' truck!?  Tell us more, how'd that happen?  They had it there?  Woah.   If I got in Ennis' truck, I'm afraid I'd highjack it and go looking for Ennis!   LOL...

I really hope to get to Alberta.  It's gonna take time and more cash than I thought, but reading how much you enjoyed the BBQ makes me wanna go more.  It really will be a once in a life thing....

So, I'll keep working on it.   Wink

Stay well,
Rayn
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« Reply #62 on: June 12, 2007, 07:37:39 pm »

Hi again Rayn (again, I'm so happy to see you back on the boards Friend!),

Well, yes, those of us who went to the BBQ had the great pleasure of riding in Ennis's truck and generally hanging around it a lot.  Adam (EDelMar here at BetterMost), one of the main organizers of the BBQ, is the proud owner of Ennis's blue-green truck, which we all fondly call THE TRUCK (and lots and lots of other memorabilia).  I don't know whether or not he's planning to attend Alberta.  Many of the Brokies who came to the BBQ brought memorabilia and displayed it in the BBQ house.  For instance, we had Lureen's entire outfit (red hat, red western-shirt, blue pants and even the belt that she wears in her barrel riding scene), lots and lots of shirts (mostly Ennis's shirts), Ennis's creel case and net, lots of autographed posters and scripts, etc.  Oh, and someone brought the hat Ennis wears during the "prayer of thanks" camping trip.  Amazing.

It seems like a tradition for Brokies to bring their memorabilia to big gatherings so I'm sure some will appear at Alberta too.  For instance, I've heard that people brought loads of memorabilia to the Bay City Oscar night screening.  It's very easy to get emotional when seeing some of the props and costumes from the movie.  I'm so thankful that so much of the material from the film wound up in the hands of Brokies who truly love it.

Check out the BBQ threads over in the Social Events forum.  Here's the link to the big main thread, http://bettermost.net/forum/index.php/topic,5791.1815.html but there are several other smaller threads as well.  You'll get to see lots of pictures of things like Ennis's truck and of course the smiling faces of lots of Brokies.  Meeting your fellow Brokies in person is also beyond amazing. 

I hope you'll be able to go to Alberta.  I completely understand that these trips are a big commitment.  But, I'm sure you would have a fantastic time.

Anyway,

Sorry... I fear we've veered way off topic.  To get back on track, I still lean towards the sense that Jack was probably murdered and that the accident story is some kind of cover (and that probably Lureen doesn't really have a true sense of what happened to Jack when he died... she probably believes the accident story as she recites it). 
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« Reply #63 on: August 24, 2012, 02:31:21 pm »

It's late August, the time when Jack died under mysterious circumstances. And, coincidentally, this is also the time when another Jack died in ancient lore....Applejack, also known as John Barleycorn.

The mystique surrounding John Barleycorn is comprehensively discussed in the blog of Miguel Tejada Flores, including the famous song by Traffic. Check it out, and let me know if you see parallels to our own Jack Twist.

Prost!!
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« Reply #64 on: August 24, 2012, 05:04:28 pm »

"There was some open space between what he knew and what he tried to believe, but nothing could be done about it, and if you can’t fix it you’ve got to stand it."

Its over 6 years for me & Ms Proulx's line above sums up what I think.

I love the John Barlycorn blog!

TT

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« Reply #65 on: August 24, 2012, 07:59:53 pm »

What a great quote, tampatalon! Thank you for checking it out!
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« Reply #66 on: August 24, 2012, 08:31:25 pm »

Here's another great thread right here in BetterMost that address this:

Are Ennis and Jack Mythological?

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« Reply #67 on: August 24, 2012, 11:17:19 pm »

My feeling -- heavily influenced, admittedly, by the literate and well-reasoned arguments of ClancyPants -- is that there's no question about how Jack died. He died the way Lureen described it. The reasoning:

-- The idea that Jack died via homophobic violence we see enacted only in Ennis' mind.

-- Ennis himself was primally affected by an episode of homophobic violence.

-- How would Ennis have any idea about what "really" happened? All he's doing is extrapolating from what Lureen told him. So it's natural that he might leap to a conclusion based on his childhood. Even his imagined tool of Jack's death -- a tire iron -- comes from what he experienced as a child, not necessarily what he knows to have happened in reality.

-- Most important, from a literary perspective -- the perspective that supports the theme and the point of the story -- it makes more sense that the violence occurred in Ennis' head, rather in the real world. One of the major themes of BBM is that homophobia affects not only bigoted straight people but, often, its own victims, destroying not only lives (Jack's) but souls (Ennis'). Ennis was both gay and homophobic. It's more interesting to show how Ennis is permanently crippled by his culture's attitudes toward homosexuality than to show that people in conservative communities in the 1980s were often, duh, homophobic. Cinematically, the former interpretation also is reflected in the scene with Jack and Jimbo the Clown: are the guys around the pool table really talking about Jack? We're conditioned to think so. But actually, we don't know this, we just assume it based on what we know about bigoted small-town types of the 1970s. Again, it's an illustration of how a closeted gay man in that culture (like Ennis, definitely, and Jack, to some extent) is conditioned to automatically think the worst and to constantly have to worry about what people on the pavement are saying. It only makes sense that AP would have been aiming for the deeper, more complex and interesting depiction.

-- Aside from, arguably, Aguirre and Alma, nobody in the movie ever says anything explicitly homophobic with the huge exception of Ennis. Including Mr. Twist, BTW. So for characters to act on homophobic attitudes is less in keeping with the rest of the movie than for people to act in ways that are ambiguous but, from the perspective of a closeted gay man in 1960-85 America (i.e., Ennis), appear ominous.

Agree? Disagree? Keep the posts coming!  Smiley




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« Reply #68 on: August 25, 2012, 09:56:19 am »

You're undoubtedly right, friend. There's another hint to the reality of Jack's demise...his origins in the town of Lightning Flat! It could be said that Jack died by exploding tire, but Ennis was killed by a tire iron...psychically.  Cry
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« Reply #69 on: August 25, 2012, 02:06:11 pm »

-- Most important, from a literary perspective -- the perspective that supports the theme and the point of the story -- it makes more sense that the violence occurred in Ennis' head, rather in the real world. One of the major themes of BBM is that homophobia affects not only bigoted straight people but, often, its own victims, destroying not only lives (Jack's) but souls (Ennis'). Ennis was both gay and homophobic. It's more interesting to show how Ennis is permanently crippled by his culture's attitudes toward homosexuality than to show that people in conservative communities in the 1980s were often, duh, homophobic. Cinematically, the former interpretation also is reflected in the scene with Jack and Jimbo the Clown: are the guys around the pool table really talking about Jack? We're conditioned to think so. But actually, we don't know this, we just assume it based on what we know about bigoted small-town types of the 1970s. Again, it's an illustration of how a closeted gay man in that culture (like Ennis, definitely, and Jack, to some extent) is conditioned to automatically think the worst and to constantly have to worry about what people on the pavement are saying. It only makes sense that AP would have been aiming for the deeper, more complex and interesting depiction.

-- Aside from, arguably, Aguirre and Alma, nobody in the movie ever says anything explicitly homophobic with the huge exception of Ennis. Including Mr. Twist, BTW. So for characters to act on homophobic attitudes is less in keeping with the rest of the movie than for people to act in ways that are ambiguous but, from the perspective of a closeted gay man in 1960-85 America (i.e., Ennis), appear ominous.

That's a POV about Jack's death I hadn't heard before in over 6 years on BBM forums!

And I do think it's consistent with the fact that for both Ennis and Jack, being gay and sexually active in that particular era and place was full of real dangers; but on the other hand, Ennis often projected them out of context.  i.e., his statement to Jack that two men living together openly could be lethal -- which is realistic.  But then he speculates that they could easily lose control and out each other in public if "this thing" gets hold of them in the wrong place.  The reality there is that it would be the repeated separations between them that would make that more likely, not their living together.  In the latter case, they'd have to be very careful in public about little gestures, such as holding hands, that they've gotten used to at home.  But people who are married or otherwise in a long-term, live-in commitment, no matter how much passion there may be between them, just aren't likely to lose control in public.

Later on, Ennis asks Jack if he ever gets the feeling that everyone "knows".  Most likely, no one knows other than Aguierre (who is out of their lives by that time), Alma, and probably Monroe after the Thanksgiving scene; he's likely to question her about what the apparently sudden blowup was.  And it's a safe bet that neither told any third parties; if they had, some snarky remark (at the very least) would be directed at Ennis sooner or later.  


re John Barleycorn:

The image in the banner and on that blog shows the kind of effigy that would have been used ceremonially in pre-Christian and early Christian times in Europe.  I've heard speculation that it was a modification of an earlier human sacrifice practice, where a man was appointed king for a year and then sacrificed in a holocaust in the spring.  Of course, there are few to no written records to go on.

Never had heard of John Barleycorn in any context other than a figure of speech until today.  He sounds like a double first cousin to Dionysius, who was identified with wine and was also a 'dying and reviving' god.

P.S. -- I Googled "Corn Maiden" and got a lot of interesting responses but had to revise the search as "Corn Maiden paganism."  It turns out that "Corn Maiden" is a brand name.   Wink
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« Reply #70 on: August 25, 2012, 02:12:06 pm »

There's another hint to the reality of Jack's demise...his origins in the town of Lightning Flat!

As we all discovered when we looked for Lightning Flat on a map, it's in a very isolated part of the US state with the lowest population density.  And according to what history I've seen of the town, Lightning Flat was almost a ghost town in the early-mid 1940s when Jack was born, and very little left of it when he came of age.  It contributes to the theme of both men leading very isolated lives, although Jack's life doesn't appear that way to outsiders.
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« Reply #71 on: August 25, 2012, 03:19:57 pm »

After six+ years, my opinion hasn't changed. Of course we can't know for certain, that's how the story is meant to be. We're left with some open space, just like Ennis is.
However, I've always thought Jack died in an accident with the tire rim. My reasoning is pretty much the same as Katherine's (no surprise here laugh).

Jack dies in an accident, far away from Ennis, who doesn't even know about it for months (oh my, the thought is so cruel, still). The story simply makes more sense that way. Had Jack died in a gay-bashing, then Ennis would have been right all along to deny them the sweet life. But if Jack dies in a freak accident, Ennis denying them the sweet life is completely and utterly in vein.
You can't get any more tragic. Ennis lets himself be guided by his (understandable and justified) fear, and it doesn't do him or Jack any good. His crippling fear, bordering on paranoia, leads him (both, really) to a lonesome, sad existence, but doesn't buy them safety in exchange.
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« Reply #72 on: August 25, 2012, 03:49:58 pm »

It's late August, the time when Jack died under mysterious circumstances.

Why do you think Jack died in August, even in late August?

I rather think it was June/July.

Ennis didn't know about it for months - plural, meaning minimum two. If Jack died in late August - then you'd have to add at least two months - making it end of October before Ennis gets the postcard back, stamped deceased.
I think that's too close to the proposed Nov 7th gathering (the camping trip that never was Cry).

What if one of them couldn't come on the proposed date? They had to consider the possibility of a change in date when communicating via postcards, give it enough time to write back and forth. Thus I think Ennis wrote the postcard with plenty time for Jack to reply and even write a second one, confirming a different date (say, if Jack had replied "Can't make it before the 11th" or something like that).

In the story, Ennis' postcard said "that November still looked like the first chance". He wouldn't say this if he wrote the card at a time on October.

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« Reply #73 on: August 25, 2012, 07:10:20 pm »

Why do you think Jack died in August, even in late August?

I rather think it was June/July.

I guess I thought it was late August because chowhound said so in the thread "An Accurate Timeline of BBM--let's figure it out together!" I got interested in that thread when I was researching the August 13th banner that I did. It makes sense if Jack was conceptualized as a continuation of the harvest god myth, where the barley is harvested in August to make the whiskey or beer.

Keep in mind that the US Postal System has nothing close to the efficiency that the German system undoubtedly has. And back then it was even worse. Ennis may have sent the postcard in September or October but didn't get it back until close to November.
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« Reply #74 on: August 25, 2012, 07:11:25 pm »

I have to agree that, and also after having read the story, that Ennis thought Jack died by an attack, but he may have died just the way Lureen described.   The way the scene cuts to Jack being beaten as if in Ennis' mind as Lureen tells him what happened.  Her answer does sound a bit rehearsed, but that may be from repeating the account to others.    Yes, homophobia was and is out there, but the great tragedy is that Ennis had internalized it and believed it himself.   His question to Jack "do the people on the pavement know" reminds me of almost like when a child has done something he or she feels is "wrong", and keeps it to himself and doesn't tell, but then feels guilty and thinks everybody "knows".   He certainly was damaged by what he was made to witness as a child.  Jack, of course, while not unsympathetic, seems to lose patience with that kind of thinking.  

I think after hearing Ennis' voice over the telephone, it does possibly bring to Lureen an awareness that she probably didn't want to face consciously.  

Also "Jack in the Green" is who I thought of - their times together up on Brokeback in summertime and in the mountains in Ennis' youth - also a dying-and-rebirth figure.
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« Reply #75 on: August 26, 2012, 10:21:01 am »

In the first picture that is on the news banner right now, there is a field of barley growing outside the window. The second picture is of John Barleycorn as a scarecrow.


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« Reply #76 on: August 26, 2012, 12:50:36 pm »

Well since the death took place in the late 70s if it would have been murder it would have been very public even in Texas. I say death by tire but in Enis imagination it was death by tire iron. Nothing else really makes sense. There would be no reason for Laureen to cover it up to Enis
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« Reply #77 on: August 26, 2012, 06:56:56 pm »

Are we really still at this?!!! LOL

I noticed there is one vote for a third option.  Wonder who that is and what they thought. 

I'd strictly separate the story from the film here.  Seems like most folks here are talking about the film.

On first viewing, Lureen's story sounds stilted and suspicious, and the tire iron scene wasn't so clearly just in Ennis's head.  I suspect the reason that the majority of people in the poll believe the tire iron is because many of us identify with Ennis.

But here's a question:  although they were deleted, what was the point of these guys?


We know them from the trailer, but never see them again.  Was Ang/Diana/Larry trying to add more ambiguity?

Just imagine for a minute, if this scene were included.  Wouldn't it have introduced more doubt to Lureen's story and more credence to Ennis's?

Here is an interesting discussion from findingbrokeback.com:


The Sneering Mechanics scene was placed between Ennis’s meeting with Cassie and Carl in the bus station café and his second post office visit.


153   EXT: GAS STATION: ROAD OUTSIDE CHILDRESS, TEXAS: DAY: 1982:   153

JACK’S truck pulls up to the dirt lot next to the gas station. A MECHANIC, tire jack in hand, fiddling with a car, takes a beer from his BUDDY, who sits on a tire nearby. They both watch as RANDALL gets out of the truck and walks to his own truck parked in the lot, waving back at JACK. The MECHANIC trades knowing glances with his friend.

Their POV:

RANDALL’S truck pulls out of the lot, goes in one direction.

JACK’S pulls out after him, going in the opposite direction.

WIDE:

We hold on JACK’S truck, as it drives off into the distance.

[Script excerpt]


“It was removed to add ambiguity; Lee believes that the harder the audience must work, the better the result,” says a reliable source. There are at least three other excellent arguments for deletion of the Sneering Mechanics scene.

1. It elevates “I wish I knew how to quit you,” and the Dozy Embrace, to their rightful place as Jack’s valediction. Absent the Sneering Mechanics scene, we remember Jack as a man deeply in love, who spent his unhappy life struggling to overcome the consequences of hatred and fear. Could there be a higher honor?

2. It has given rise to literally thousands of hours of vigorous discussion and debate about Jack’s fidelity, and the issue of monogamy in general. Fan websites are awash in lengthy arguments over Jack and his “ranch neighbor friend.” Ennis never knew the truth with certainty, and neither will we.

3. Jack’s fate becomes the film’s much-celebrated mystery. Is Lureen telling the truth? When we witness the murder are we seeing what actually happened or is it Ennis’s imagination at work? Perhaps most intriguing of all, why does it matter to us so?
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« Reply #78 on: August 26, 2012, 10:24:37 pm »

I was hoping you would weigh in on this friend! Thank you!
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« Reply #79 on: August 27, 2012, 02:17:27 am »

Are we really still at this?!!! LOL


Not still, but again. Grin
I find it interesting how people see this question now, in contrast to then. If their believes and/or feelings about it have changed over times. Mine did.
My opinion about how Jack died hasn't changed, as stated above. But how I feel about it has. Back then I tended heavily towards accident, but the doubt was nagging. Now, not so much. In my personal view, all the hours of intellectual exchange, weighing options and rewatching/rereading the movie and story have confirmed what my gut feeling always knew.
And the fact that others see it differently is interesting and perfectly valid, but doesn't faze me.



Quote
On first viewing, Lureen's story sounds stilted and suspicious, and the tire iron scene wasn't so clearly just in Ennis's head.  I suspect the reason that the majority of people in the poll believe the tire iron is because many of us identify with Ennis.

Agreed. On first viewing, many people get a different impression: that Lureeen tells one story, but the director shows us what really happened. I came out of the theater, completely sure Jack was murdered. Later, at home, the doubts set in.
Apart from the viewer identifying with Ennis, the fact that nobody can pick up all the subtleties at one viewing contributes to people's believe Jack was murdered.




Quote
But here's a question:  although they were deleted, what was the point of these guys?
[...]
Just imagine for a minute, if this scene were included.  Wouldn't it have introduced more doubt to Lureen's story and more credence to Ennis's?

It would be harder to recognize the murder scene as being in Ennis's head. It would convince people even more that the murder scene was what really happened. And that's the exact reason why it was deleted, IMO.
Heck, even I might change camps if it were in the movie.

Going a step further: I know Ang Lee said Lureen lied on the phone with Ennis. I know I'm leaning far out of the window here, but maybe even Mr. Lee doesn't know the one and only truth about it.


Quote
I'd strictly separate the story from the film here.  Seems like most folks here are talking about the film.

Speaking story only, the biggest clues are:

Ennis didn't know about the accident for months
So now he knew it had been the tire iron. (Ennis knew, in his head, just like in the movie)
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« Reply #80 on: August 27, 2012, 02:23:41 am »

The Sneering Mechanics scene was placed between Ennis’s meeting with Cassie and Carl in the bus station café and his second post office visit.

Oh, just realizing this. If it were included at this point (not during the phone call), it would kill any ambiguity completely. It couldn't be in Ennis' head, since Ennis doesn't yet know. It would be like "meanwhile, in Texas" and then I would accept it totally as reality. I'd change camps for sure.

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« Reply #81 on: August 27, 2012, 03:38:51 pm »

Not still, but again. Grin

Haha! You bet!

I can't believe it, but I got to readin' and thinkin' some more!  This discussion always takes me back to CaseyCornelius's classic IMDb thread "Ennis's Maledictions".  It's archived here.  But also, it was a rich "topic of the week" back in January 2008--another poll, where I was in the "we are not supposed to know" camp. 

I wrote this, in response to Chrissi's pointing out that all six times "tire iron" is mentioned, it is by Ennis.


Great point, Chrissi. (Isn't it great to be able to search the story?)

I'm reminded of one of my favorite IMDb discussions:  Ennis's Maledictions with CaseyCornelius.  Briefly, there are three:

1) "You probably deserve it" in response to Jack's statement that he feared getting shot by Lureen or "the husband" every time he slips off to see the ranchman's wife.

2) Most importantly, the Mexico response, "All them things I don't know could get you killed if I should come to know them".

3) "Why don't you" (quit me).

I would add 4) "I can't stand this anymore, Jack" at the end of the Lake Scene, just before the dozy embrace.

In my opinion, Ennis psychologically  kills Jack.  Why?  Because Jack has broken their pact that they're not "queer".  Notice their last night together, they're talking about their "women", Ennis's Cassie and Jack's rancher's wife.  But, Jack ventures the "truth" with "...sometimes I miss you so much I can hardly stand it."  Awfully close to "I love you".

The closer Jack gets to "queer", the more distressed Ennis gets.  Thus, Mexico is the last straw.  If Jack is queer, so is Ennis, and he can't stand that. 

Ennis is predetermined to believe queer = violent death, because of Earl (and his expectation his father would have come into the motel with the tire iron).

In the story, the sequence goes from:  Lureen's call--->believing tire iron--->end of call--->didn't know if it were tire iron or real accident--->OMT mentions the other fella--->now he knew it was the tire iron.

So, as Chrissi points out, all the tire iron references come from Ennis.  I think the murder is a projection  on his part.


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« Reply #82 on: August 27, 2012, 04:16:06 pm »

Ang said that Lureen was lying.  He says it's better to let the audience work for it.

When asked, Annie would say she doesn't know which way it was.  She says we have to finish the story ourselves.

How are we mere mortals to know?

So, I think it's unknowable.  And we'll just have to stand it. 

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« Reply #83 on: August 27, 2012, 04:33:32 pm »

Ang said that Lureen was lying.  He says it's better to let the audience work for it.

When asked, Annie would say she doesn't know which way it was.  She says we have to finish the story ourselves.

How are we mere mortals to know?

So, I think it's unknowable.  And we'll just have to stand it. 




I don't think we're actually supposed to know, because of what both Ang and Annie said.

The ambiguity is deliberate, in both story and film.


And, I think Ennis too would have to stand it; to live the rest of his life without knowing.

When he first hears about the accident, he immediately thinks of the tire iron, for sure.
That will probably always be his first reaction to any gay man's death.
But later, when the shock wears off, he may start to wonder. Why would Lureen lie to him?
I think there's a chance he will reevaluate his first assumption, at least later in life. And come to the conclusion
that he will never know for sure.
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« Reply #84 on: August 27, 2012, 11:11:32 pm »

When asked, Annie would say she doesn't know which way it was.  She says we have to finish the story ourselves.

I've seen this, and frankly I find it disappointing. I hope she's being disingenuous.

If Jack died as Lureen described it, then the story is about how the damage from homophobia is so pervasive that it infects even the people it targets, destroying their lives from within. It's a brilliant concept, which Ang and Larry/Diana expressed a number of times, including the pool players in the Jimbo scenes and most of Aguirre's post-binoculars scenes.

If Jack died as Ennis imagines it, then the story is about how small-town people in the early 1980s could sometimes be violent homophobes. Surprise, surprise.

Leaving it to seem ambiguous lets us experience what Ennis did, just as the pool-hall scene lets us experience what Jack did. But I hope the "reality" is that Lureen is telling the truth.


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« Reply #85 on: August 28, 2012, 10:58:25 am »

Thanks for the well-considered thoughts, buds.  I've always been in the Ironite camp, but I do find the subtler Rimmist view compelling and persuasive.  I think I'll join Paul in the "we're not supposed to know" category.
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« Reply #86 on: September 14, 2012, 06:04:39 pm »

Here is a photo of the tall barley that grows in Bieseker, Alberta, Canada, where the closing scene looking out Ennis's trailer was filmed:

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« Reply #87 on: May 01, 2013, 08:36:44 pm »

The one place I refused to step foot on that first trip  Cry

I tend to think I have nothing left to discuss on this topic---and I'm always wrong  Roll Eyes

 I have always believed, and still do, that it is meant to be ambiguous but in my heart believe Lureen.  Right this minute it occurs to me that in finishing the story in our own way we are either supporting/confirming/justifying(?) Ennis' fear (Ennis' version) or we are rejecting Ennis' fear (Lureen's version)- that his and Jack's love would result in their death. So while Ennis' and Lureen's version can't both be accurate, the realities- their love won't necessarily get them killed and their love could get them killed-are both true.
 Afro

Here is a photo of the tall barley that grows in Bieseker, Alberta, Canada, where the closing scene looking out Ennis's trailer was filmed:




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