Author Topic: You shut up about Ennis - this ain't (all) his fault  (Read 71155 times)

Offline serious crayons

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But the film so far surpasses the very thin story and gives such an enormous amount of weight to it, that while I can read the short story and put the film into it, I cannot watch the film and put the short story into the film.  There are a few instances where something in the short story has made me look at motivations in the film a little differently, but there are so many times that the film gives a completely different spin that I think it's just best to put the book aside and go with what Lee gave us.

I agree with this completely. The film takes the skeleton of the story and adds flesh and dimension and meaning and detail. As Annie Proulx herself has said, it delves deeper into characters -- we've seen that Jack, to some extent, and Ennis, to a huge extent, are like two different people in the story and film. Most importantly, the transition from story to film turns BBM from a tale about how society's prejudices can warp people's lives (by making Ennis afraid to live with Jack) to one about how society's prejudices can warp people's souls (by making Ennis afraid to love Jack, and himself).

That's why, like you, I normally don't like using the story as a text for deciphering the film. (Though sometimes, if there's something I like better in the story, I pretend it exists in the film. For example, I prefer to think that "one thing never changed: the brilliant charge of their infrequent couplings," to the subdued tone of that final tent scene.

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But, it is precisely because Jack loved Ennis so much that Jack had to let Ennis go. ...  Jack said he wished he knew how to quit Ennis.  In the most poignant irony of the entire film, Ennis showed him how.

Now, this makes sense, and I can't necessarily argue against it, but I find it ... well, sort of ruthlessly unsentimental. Or at least ruthlessly poignant. Anyway, for me, that possibility is hard to face.

BUT this ...

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Because Ennis sent the final postcard, I believe that Jack had not yet gotten around to closing things up with Ennis, and I’m not sure how he would have done it. ... Jack would have had to have gotten a final, definite answer from Ennis one way or the other.  And if Ennis' answer was the same as always

... softens the harshness. Because I think that, in view of Ennis' breaking up with Cassie and his epiphany in the pie scene, Ennis' answer might NOT have been the same as always.

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If it's the latter, then she's a pretty good comparison to Ennis ... neither might use the label they despise to describe their own behavior, yet at some level they realize their behavior is not "normal."

I think this is the entire key point.  Very well stated (summed up).

Well, if you agree on that, maybe we're not so diametrically opposed on the issue of Ennis' acknowledgment. Maybe it's not so much a black-or-white matter of, he fully acknowledges vs. he doesn't acknowledge. Maybe it's more a matter of degree.

I'm willing to believe that Ennis doesn't use the dreaded Q-word to describe himself, just as he doesn't use the L-word to describe his relationship with Jack. But I do think he notices that his own inclinations and behavior are the kind of thing his father taught him was a no-no, just as I think he notices that he has all the intense feelings toward Jack that most of us would describe with the word "love."

ruthlesslyunsentimental

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Most importantly, the transition from story to film turns BBM from a tale about how society's prejudices can warp people's lives (by making Ennis afraid to live with Jack) to one about how society's prejudices can warp people's souls (by making Ennis afraid to love Jack, and himself).

I like this!  Well, no, I don't like this... it's sad and heartbreaking... but I like how you stated it.


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Now, this makes sense, and I can't necessarily argue against it, but I find it ... well, sort of ruthlessly unsentimental. Or at least ruthlessly poignant. Anyway, for me, that possibility is hard to face.

To me, it's all about what is love?  Which is love -- tending to the pain in your loved one, or ignoring it and continuing as if it's not there?  Jack had to tend to it.  Just what the result of that would be would be Ennis' decision.  If he would choose to live with Jack (slight chance), OK; but, if not (bigger probability), then Jack would have to let Ennis go.  Anything else would be unforgivable.


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in view of Ennis' breaking up with Cassie and his epiphany in the pie scene, Ennis' answer might NOT have been the same as always.
 

I can go with this.  But, his epiphany, if ever complete, was not completed until at least the "love" conversation with Jr. -- too late.


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Well, if you agree on that, maybe we're not so diametrically opposed on the issue of Ennis' acknowledgment. Maybe it's not so much a black-or-white matter of, he fully acknowledges vs. he doesn't acknowledge. Maybe it's more a matter of degree.

It's all in how one cooks one's beans.


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I'm willing to believe that Ennis doesn't use the dreaded Q-word to describe himself, just as he doesn't use the L-word to describe his relationship with Jack. But I do think he notices that his own inclinations and behavior are the kind of thing his father taught him was a no-no, just as I think he notices that he has all the intense feelings toward Jack that most of us would describe with the word "love."

Absolutely.  This is exactly how I see it.



Offline dly64

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I agree with this completely. The film takes the skeleton of the story and adds flesh and dimension and meaning and detail. As Annie Proulx herself has said, it delves deeper into characters -- we've seen that Jack, to some extent, and Ennis, to a huge extent, are like two different people in the story and film. Most importantly, the transition from story to film turns BBM from a tale about how society's prejudices can warp people's lives (by making Ennis afraid to live with Jack) to one about how society's prejudices can warp people's souls (by making Ennis afraid to love Jack, and himself).

That's why, like you, I normally don't like using the story as a text for deciphering the film. (Though sometimes, if there's something I like better in the story, I pretend it exists in the film. For example, I prefer to think that "one thing never changed: the brilliant charge of their infrequent couplings," to the subdued tone of that final tent scene.

Well, if you agree on that, maybe we're not so diametrically opposed on the issue of Ennis' acknowledgment. Maybe it's not so much a black-or-white matter of, he fully acknowledges vs. he doesn't acknowledge. Maybe it's more a matter of degree.

I'm willing to believe that Ennis doesn't use the dreaded Q-word to describe himself, just as he doesn't use the L-word to describe his relationship with Jack. But I do think he notices that his own inclinations and behavior are the kind of thing his father taught him was a no-no, just as I think he notices that he has all the intense feelings toward Jack that most of us would describe with the word "love."

OMG! We can’t all be agreeing, can we? That is how I see the situation with Ennis … it doesn’t mean he isn’t gay. It doesn’t mean he isn’t attracted to men. What it does mean is that Ennis did not see himself as a homosexual. He also would not be able to acknowledge the fact that he was attracted to men. IMO, he was able to give himself to Jack because of the place …. BBM …. where they had the freedom to be themselves without societal pressures and expectations. I think Ennis did become aware that he loved Jack at the lake scene. Prior to that, Ennis knew he had deep feelings for Jack, but was unable to completely accept or acknowledge that those feelings were, indeed, love.
Diane

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Offline serious crayons

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I  can go with this.  But, his epiphany, if ever complete, was not completed until at least the "love" conversation with Jr. -- too late.

Oh, well I see his epiphany as being complete before that. That conversation is a reflection of his epiphany, in my view.

OMG! We can’t all be agreeing, can we? ... What it does mean is that Ennis did not see himself as a homosexual. He also would not be able to acknowledge the fact that he was attracted to men. IMO, he was able to give himself to Jack because of the place …. BBM …. where they had the freedom to be themselves without societal pressures and expectations. I think Ennis did become aware that he loved Jack at the lake scene. Prior to that, Ennis knew he had deep feelings for Jack, but was unable to completely accept or acknowledge that those feelings were, indeed, love.

Don't worry, Diane, we still don't agree!  :) I DO think he acknowledges that he's attracted to men. To go back to the earlier example, the Xanax addict may not label herself a quote-unquote drug addict, but she certainly acknowledges that she takes Xanax, even if she wishes she didn't!

As for Ennis' realization that he loves Jack, I think that occurs back on Brokeback. Again, he may not use that label. Maybe the Xanax addict has some other name for it than, "I am addicted to Xanax." But she knows how much she wants it. (Not to imply that either attraction to men or love are bad habits!)

ruthlesslyunsentimental

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OMG! We can’t all be agreeing, can we? That is how I see the situation with Ennis … it doesn’t mean he isn’t gay. It doesn’t mean he isn’t attracted to men. What it does mean is that Ennis did not see himself as a homosexual. He also would not be able to acknowledge the fact that he was attracted to men. IMO, he was able to give himself to Jack because of the place …. BBM …. where they had the freedom to be themselves without societal pressures and expectations. I think Ennis did become aware that he loved Jack at the lake scene. Prior to that, Ennis knew he had deep feelings for Jack, but was unable to completely accept or acknowledge that those feelings were, indeed, love.

I like everything you wrote.  It all makes sense to me.  Except, of course, for the "become aware that he loved Jack" part.  I still think he just began the learning curve here.  He admits that he's the way he is because of Jack.  I think we all know that it's because of his love for Jack, and I think Jack would have even figured it that way.  But I still think Ennis has not quite made the connection.  I think he's saying it to Jack as an accusation, because of his fears.  I believe that's the reason for the breakdown.  If he did make that connection at that time, then he'd have sorted out the entire mess that was himself.  It's his inability to make that connection that constitutes his messed-up self.  And he can’t make that connection because of his fears.

That's why it took Cassie to give him his first insight that it was love.  Lureen dittoed this.  Mr. Twist dittoed this.  And, his conversations with Lureen and the Twists gave him clues that he could step past his fear.  So, finally, in the shirt scene, he has just stepped past his fears a bit AND he's armed with the clues from others that it really was love, and so, in Jack's closet he makes the final connection.

However, this is just my take and I’m willing to listen.  I think that if Ennis had made the connection at the final lake scene, he would have had to have had some clues beyond just what he'd been going through before the final lake scene.  Do you find any clues that would have helped him make the connection at the final lake scene?  I may be missing the forest for the trees.




ruthlesslyunsentimental

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As for Ennis' realization that he loves Jack, I think that occurs back on Brokeback. Again, he may not use that label. Maybe the Xanax addict has some other name for it than, "I am addicted to Xanax." But she knows how much she wants it. (Not to imply that either attraction to men or love are bad habits!)

I think the distinction you make here is, for me, the distinction between "my" view and "your" view, which I'm feeling are both really "our" view.  He had love for Jack, he expressed it, but he couldn't call it that.  Alcoholics know they drink, they know they like to drink, but the biggest part of the recovery process is admitting they have a problem.  There's a disconnect between what they do, what they know they like, and how they view it.  This is why interventions are so often necessary.  Everyone else sees the problem and calls it a problem and they perform an intervention to get the alcoholic to make the same connection that they all have already made.



Offline dly64

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I like everything you wrote.  It all makes sense to me.  Except, of course, for the "become aware that he loved Jack" part.  I still think he just began the learning curve here.  He admits that he's the way he is because of Jack.  I think we all know that it's because of his love for Jack, and I think Jack would have even figured it that way.  But I still think Ennis has not quite made the connection.  I think he's saying it to Jack as an accusation, because of his fears.  I believe that's the reason for the breakdown.  If he did make that connection at that time, then he'd have sorted out the entire mess that was himself.  It's his inability to make that connection that constitutes his messed-up self.  And he can’t make that connection because of his fears.

I think we are mostly on the same page but I do differ from you in two ways:
1.   When Ennis says to Jack, “It’s because of you, Jack, that I’m this way. I’m nothin’ … I’m nowhere …” (IMO) he is blaming Jack for the whole relationship … i.e. in Ennis’ mind, at that moment, he believes that, if not for Jack, he would be living a “normal” life.
2.   When Ennis breaks down, he knows that he can hardly handle this secret life. By the same token, he knows that he can’t have a life without Jack. Does that mean he would say, “I love you, Jack …”  No. However, when Ennis left, he did not anticipate that it would be their last time together.
What the bus stop scene, with Cassie, exemplifies is Ennis’ realization that he cannot pretend to love anyone other than Jack This epiphany occurs prior to  seeing Cassie (as evidenced by Ennis breaking off contact with Cassie ).

Don't worry, Diane, we still don't agree!  :) I DO think he acknowledges that he's attracted to men. To go back to the earlier example, the Xanax addict may not label herself a quote-unquote drug addict, but she certainly acknowledges that she takes Xanax, even if she wishes she didn't!

As for Ennis' realization that he loves Jack, I think that occurs back on Brokeback. Again, he may not use that label. Maybe the Xanax addict has some other name for it than, "I am addicted to Xanax." But she knows how much she wants it. (Not to imply that either attraction to men or love are bad habits!)

Katherine …. I knew it would be too wild if we all agreed!   ;) I think we do have two fundamental differences:
1.   The timing as to when Ennis could acknowledge that he loved Jack; and
2.   If/ when Ennis admits his attraction to men.
IMO, Ennis could never face the reality of his attraction to men. Does that mean he was not attracted to men? No … However, there is a distinction between acknowledging his attraction and being in denial about it. I, personally, am in the “denial” camp.  Maybe your point is that, privately, Ennis understands he desires men vs. women. In my example, the woman would realize she craves Xanax even though publicly she would not admit it. In that case, I see your point.  But even if a person craves or desires something or someone doesn’t mean that s/he can admit or accept it. Therefore, s/he in denial … even if everything s/he does is counterpoint to what they believe.

Regarding Ennis’ realization that he loved Jack …. I am in Ruthless’ camp that it did not occur until post mountain. Ennis was stifled by his fear … fear of his feelings … fear of retribution. Again … the key word … :”denial”.  What Ennis does understand is that he has deep feelings for Jack … ones that he finds terrifying. He does love Jack. However, he can not bring himself to admit that those feelings are, indeed, love.
Diane

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ruthlesslyunsentimental

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I think we are mostly on the same page but I do differ from you in two ways:
1.   When Ennis says to Jack, “It’s because of you, Jack, that I’m this way. I’m nothin’ … I’m nowhere …” (IMO) he is blaming Jack for the whole relationship … i.e. in Ennis’ mind, at that moment, he believes that, if not for Jack, he would be living a “normal” life.
2.   When Ennis breaks down, he knows that he can hardly handle this secret life. By the same token, he knows that he can’t have a life without Jack. Does that mean he would say, “I love you, Jack …”  No.

I agree completely with everything up to here.


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However, when Ennis left, he did not anticipate that it would be their last time together.

Not 100% on this one, but doesn’t really matter... I don't think so, anyway.


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What the bus stop scene, with Cassie, exemplifies is Ennis’ realization that he cannot pretend to love anyone other than Jack This epiphany occurs prior to  seeing Cassie (as evidenced by Ennis breaking off contact with Cassie ).

But then Cassie could have just walked in, seen him, and said to her new boyfriend "Oh, there's the guy who dumped me... humpff" and walked off.  We'd have gotten the very same message.  But, she sat down and they talked.  And what's her most important line? "Girls don't don’t fall in love with fun."  This is the line that reflects right back to the prior scene when Ennis described their relationship in terms of a good time.  Cassie describing a relationship, Ennis describing a relationship.  This is what is so key here.  He just described his relationship with Jack and now Cassie shows him something different to think about.  She woke Ennis up and helped him to realize that he had been defining his relationship with Jack in the wrong terms.  From the final lake scene on, it's just a series of shots of Ennis waking up... to the fact that Jack actually loved Ennis.


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Regarding Ennis’ realization that he loved Jack …. I am in Ruthless’ camp that it did not occur until post mountain. Ennis was stifled by his fear … fear of his feelings … fear of retribution. Again … the key word … :”denial”.  What Ennis does understand is that he has deep feelings for Jack … ones that he finds terrifying. He does love Jack. However, he can not bring himself to admit that those feelings are, indeed, love.

This is definitely the camp I’m in.  I guess I can understand if other people are in a slightly different camp, but we've got the better camp -- after all, Don Wroe's cabin is in our camp!    ;)    :laugh:

Offline serious crayons

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We keep tossing around vague words like "know" "acknowledge" and "admit," think we all agree and get all excited, then keep talking and find out we actually don't. So maybe what we need to do is break it down. I'll suggest some subcategories and say whether, IMO, they apply. Others can write in their own views, or substitute other subcategories (or, of course, ignore the exercise alltogether).

Regarding his homosexuality, would Ennis

-- Describe himself that way to others? Never.
-- Use the word "queer" or "homosexual" to describe himself to himself? Early on in the movie, no. By the end, probably yes.
-- Reluctantly in his heart of hearts consider the possibility that those words might apply to him? Yes, probably, the whole time.
-- Notice he's attracted to men? Yes, since he was a kid, though he has learned to hide or repress it.
-- Wish he weren't? Sure.
-- Recognize that his relationship with Jack constitutes a gay relationship? Yes, sort of.
-- Believe it's a huge exception to the rule, that he's not "really" gay and otherwise would be attracted only to women? No.
-- Ever have been involved with another man if not for Jack? Probably not.
-- Blame Jack for him (Ennis) being gay? No.
-- Blame Jack for keeping him nothin and nowhere? Not really.
-- Blame his feelings for Jack for keeping him from leading a normal life? Yes.
-- Wish he had never gotten involved with Jack in the first place? No way.

Regarding love, does Ennis

-- Use that word when talking to Jack? No, obviously.
-- Use that word when talking to himself? No.
-- Notice that he exhibits the feelings and longings and behavior that the rest of us would associate with the word "love"? Yes.
-- Recognize only after the pie scene that all those acts and feelings add up to quote-unquote love? Hmm ... maybe. (I'm a little on the fence about this, and open -- believe it or not -- to persuasion.)
-- Not recognize it until his conversation with Alma Jr.? No, I think he recognizes in the closet at the very latest.
-- Recognize only in the end that, given that he and Jack were in love, that he should have made honoring that love his first priority, rather than being afraid to do so? Absolutely.


ruthlesslyunsentimental

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We keep tossing around vague words like "know" "acknowledge" and "admit," think we all agree and get all excited, then keep talking and find out we actually don't. So maybe what we need to do is break it down. I'll suggest some subcategories and say whether, IMO, they apply. Others can write in their own views, or substitute other subcategories (or, of course, ignore the exercise alltogether).

I’ll play.   :laugh:


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Regarding his homosexuality, would Ennis

-- Describe himself that way to others?
          Latjoreme -- Never.
          Ruthlessly – Agreed, never.
-- Use the word "queer" or "homosexual" to describe himself to himself?
          Latjoreme -- Early on in the movie, no. By the end, probably yes.
          Ruthlessly – Early, agreed.  End, slightly, possibly, maybe... but still only with fear and self-loathing.
-- Reluctantly in his heart of hearts consider the possibility that those words might apply to him?
          Latjoreme -- Yes, probably, the whole time.
          Ruthlessly – Agreed.
-- Notice he's attracted to men?
          Latjoreme -- Yes, since he was a kid, though he has learned to hide or repress it.
          Ruthlessly – Agreed.
-- Wish he weren't?
          Latjoreme -- Sure.
          Ruthlessly – Agreed.
And I’ll add:
-- Convince himself almost 100% completely that he isn’t?
          Ruthlessly – Absolutely!
-- Recognize that his relationship with Jack constitutes a gay relationship?
          Latjoreme -- Yes, sort of.
          Ruthlessly – No.  No recognition – which signifies to me that it dawns on him, that he becomes aware of it.  No.
And I’ll add:
-- Recognize that his relationship with Jack constitutes a “thing” that he cannot understand or name with its correct, generally-accepted name?
          Ruthlessly – Yes, 100%
-- Believe it's a huge exception to the rule, that he's not "really" gay and otherwise would be attracted only to women?
          Latjoreme -- No.
          Ruthlessly – I’m not sure if I’ve broken down the question into its intended subparts correctly.  Correct me if I’m wrong.  “Believe it’s a huge exception to the rule…” – No.  The only rules to homosexuality that he believes are that it’s wrong and equals (or deserves) death.  “Believe … that he’s not “really” gay …” – Absolutely.  He does not believe himself to be gay.  “Believe … and otherwise would be attracted only to women” – The word “otherwise” would require him to think of himself as gay, which he does not.  He may not be attracted to women sexually, but he believes that he’s supposed to be. 
-- Ever have been involved with another man if not for Jack?
          Latjoreme -- Probably not.
          Ruthlessly – Agreed.  Unless someone came along and led him to it in the same way Jack did – build a friendship, build an intimacy, give Ennis his moment to let it all come bursting out, etc.
-- Blame Jack for him (Ennis) being gay?
          Latjoreme -- No.
          Ruthlessly – I dunno.  Even if Ennis recognized early on that he is attracted to men, it took Jack to bring Ennis to the point of acting on it.  So, because Ennis does not believe himself to be gay, he very well could blame Jack for bringing Ennis to the point of acting on Ennis’ attraction to other fellas.
-- Blame Jack for keeping him nothin and nowhere?
          Latjoreme -- Not really.
          Ruthlessly – Half and half.  Ennis knows that he’s nothin’ and nowhere because he has put his “get somewhere” and “be somebody” on the back burner so that he could be available for Jack.  Ennis knows that’s what he’s done.  But, he probably doesn’t accept responsibility for his actions; thus, he blames Jack for it.  For the simple fact that Jack was there, Ennis just couldn’t help himself.
-- Blame his feelings for Jack for keeping him from leading a normal life?
          Latjoreme -- Yes.
          Ruthlessly – Agreed.  He knew he had feelings for Jack, and Ennis called those feelings a “thing,” and he knew that those feelings, that “thing” kept Ennis from leading a normal life – what Ennis would perceive as normal.
-- Wish he had never gotten involved with Jack in the first place?
          Latjoreme -- No way.
          Ruthlessly – I don’t agree.  If Ennis is like 99% of other people who fall in love (as some people have said    ;)   ), then there are certainly times when he has wished he’d never gotten involved with Jack.  Wished it as an overall defining characteristic of himself?  No.  But gone through long periods of trying to forget, get over, avoid, regret… then, yes.


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Regarding love, does Ennis

-- Use that word when talking to Jack?
          Latjoreme -- No, obviously.
          Ruthlessly – Agreed.
-- Use that word when talking to himself?
          Latjoreme -- No.
          Ruthlessly – Agreed.  But he did try to get personalized vanity plates on his truck that say “E (heart) J.”  Unfortunately, the Wyoming DMV doesn’t allow a heart character on their plates.   :laugh:
-- Notice that he exhibits the feelings and longings and behavior that the rest of us would associate with the word "love"?
          Latjoreme -- Yes.
          Ruthlessly – “Notice?”  Yes, occasionally, but quickly dismisses it as “Can’t be… it’s a “thing.””
-- Recognize only after the pie scene that all those acts and feelings add up to quote-unquote love?
          Latjoreme -- Hmm ... maybe. (I'm a little on the fence about this, and open -- believe it or not -- to persuasion.)
          Ruthlessly – Getting’ there… plus the other interactions that follow.  Pie’ll do it to ya every time!  They shoulda bin eatin’ pie up on ol’ Brokeback ‘steada beans.
-- Not recognize it until his conversation with Alma Jr.?
          Latjoreme -- No, I think he recognizes in the closet at the very latest.
          Ruthlessly – Fully recognizes it in the closet at the very earliest AND at the very latest.  Was there pie in that there closet?
-- Recognize only in the end that, given that he and Jack were in love, that he should have made honoring that love his first priority, rather than being afraid to do so?
          Latjoreme -- Absolutely.
          Ruthlessly – Recognize … that he should have … rather than…?  No.  Change it to “After the closet scene, especially during his talk with Jr., and given that Ennis now understands that he and Jack were in love, did Ennis wish that he would have been able to have overcome his fears and made his love for Jack his first priority while, after Jack’s death, still not actually dealing with overcoming his fears because there is no longer a reason to with regard to his relationship with Jack?”  Then, yes.  There ain’t that much pie in alla Riverton.