Author Topic: You shut up about Ennis - this ain't (all) his fault  (Read 71164 times)

Offline dly64

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I am glad for your thoughtful response. It is nice to discuss this great film with someone who is as passionate about it as I am!

BTW ... I had spent over an hour responding to this note and my computer shut down on me!  So I lost everything I had written. :'( I am going to start over again, but I am not sure I will be as detailed as I was previously. C'est la vie! Stuff happens!

... So today I'd have to say I'm not an Ennis or a Jack, I'm both.

I agree ...  I do the same thing. I mostly understand Jack's point of reference, however. Each person's life experiences influence how s/he interprets this beautiful film.


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I can see vulnerability here.  But taking a guy's hand and putting it "you know where"      ;)     is overt.

Okay, okay .... I can give that to you. Even when I was writing it I was trying to be delicate in the description. I guess there is no way to make the word "cock" delicate. (I just thought it sounded better than penis).  ::)


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I think we see something similar here... but here, really well-defined terminology is important.   I can go with "they each fell in love" here.  But that's different from "they each knew they had fallen in love" and it's different from "each boy knew that the other guy loved him."

You've given (in a couple of places in your post) some examples of loving behaviors between them (as I have done in my post(s)).  Each of them displaying loving behaviors is consistent with "they each fell in love" but it is not necessarily consistent with "they each knew they had fallen in love" or with "each boy knew that the other guy loved him."  I don’t believe it’s correct to say that Ennis knew he loved Jack and then also to say that Ennis could not admit it.  It seems more consistent with the character developed in the film that Ennis did not understand what it was that was between the two of them.  To Ennis, love was a man and a woman getting married.  He didn’t understand that's it's not what one does on the surface, it's what one feels under the surface (example – the three options he gave to Jack at the final lake scene, contrasted with Cassie picking up on that and explaining it to him in the bus depot).  This was his big internal conflict -- always wanting to see Jack and do for Jack, but being unable to understand why.

I think I expressed what I was trying to say poorly. Both Ennis and Jack loved each other. Ennis did not know  he loved Jack. Jack did not know he loved Ennis. Certainly, Jack came to this realization way before Ennis.  It was the lake scene when Ennis understood the depth of his feelings for Jack. Ultimately, it was too late.


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Ummmmm... yes, they have the freedom to do this, and they do explore and develop their relationship (which is friendship and sexual)... but I can't tack on "their love for each other" because they don't understand their relationship this way.  WE, the viewers, understand it this way.  But the film does not portray them as understanding it this way.  That's one of the key plots of the film -- Ennis' inability to understand and process his feelings for Jack, his inability to correctly name those feelings.

I agree with you completely on this point.


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Yes and no.  The reason they parted as they did is because of a failure to communicate, a failure to seek closure.  Had they done that, things could have been different.  As I said before, it's not that Ennis would have agreed to live together, but he was at his most vulnerable and he was at his most needy at that time.  In his position, at that time, he could have made a different choice and that different choice is not limited to only one option, them living together, it could be as simple as deciding not to marry Alma.

We are both in agreement that Ennis would not have lived with Jack. Despite the communication (or lack thereof), IMO, Ennis would have still married Alma. Societal constraints and expectations dictated what Ennis would/ would not do. He was already engaged to Alma. He would have been unable to break it off with her to spend time or to be around Jack.  He was so worried about what others perceived that he tried everything in his power to make himself invisible. So, although Ennis was "available" at that time, nothing would have changed.


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But these are two different scenes.  In the first, Ennis is at his most vulnerable and without the excuses of marriage, children and job.  In the second, Ennis is not at his most vulnerable because he has the excuses of his children and his job (and just before this, he had the excuse of his marriage).


And yet they did have a kind of life together outside of the realms of the mountain.  They saw each other 2-3 times a year for many years.  That is one kind of life (a pretty sucky one, but Ennis sure seemed comfortable with it for quite a while – in fact, so did Jack until the post-divorce truck scene).  Also, note that I did not say that Ennis' fears would have been dealt with on that one day at the truck, in fact, I said the opposite.  I said that had Jack taken the lead to help Ennis to not make the choice to marry Alma, the kind of life that they had post-mountain (and they did have a kind of life post-mountain) could have been different and they could have dealt with Ennis' fear... day after day... year after year...  I think we do agree that Ennis came to some kind of escape from his fear by the very end trailer scene... he certainly was able to deal with OMT... and so he could have come to that same point, but without the whole Alma, marriage, kids life that he chose to live because he was confused about what Jack felt for him, and he was confused because Jack failed to take the lead.

Note that even though they get together 2 - 3 times per year, it is still in the mountains where they are isolated and away from societal morality and constraints. They have the freedom to be themselves. Off of the mountain, however, Ennis is fearful and paranoid. Even if Jack and Ennis would have had openly discussed their relationship expectations post mountain, I still think Ennis would have married Alma. He was trying hard to convince himself and society that he was "normal" That means marriage. That means kids.


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I may have worded this part poorly.  I don’t believe that either of them was IN it FOR fun and sex.  I believe that that's how Ennis compartmentalized his relationship with Jack.  He didn’t file it under “love.”  He filed it under “fun” and “sex.”  But WE know that he misfiled it because WE know that what they had between the two of them was love.  But had Ennis known that, he wouldn’t have misfiled it.  He was a stickler for detail.  He just wasn’t at a point in his emotional development to understand the details he was a part of.


First part, yes.  Second part, no.  I agree that on a spiritual level, each was the completion for the other; but, in their actual interactions with each other, neither completed the other at all.  In fact, because of their failures to communicate properly all along, they disassociated each other.  Remember them eating the elk?  The elk is a symbol of their relationship, a poor substitute for what Jack really wanted -- soup, that is, a life together.  And what did they do with the elk?  They ate it up, bit by bit until it was all gone.  The scene of them shooting the elk was significant for us to see Ennis providing for Jack (the text) and for us to see the poor substitute it was for Jack (the metaphor).  Now that we know that they shot the elk, we have no need to see them eat it.  But we do.  Why?  Because they're hungry (the text) and because they're eating away at their relationship (the metaphor).

(It's also interesting to note exactly where in the film we see evidence of the elk meat.  In the eating scene we see elk meat hanging on a rack they built for it.  And we see this same rack later on.  But when has all the elk meat disappeared?  And what happens right after that?)

I think we have divergent ideas here. Both Jack and Ennis had opposite personality traits. Yet, they understood each other in a way no one else could or ever would. They did not pull each other apart until they left BBM ... when the world around them dictated what they "should" or "should not" do. Ennis' inability to give himself freely to Jack and Jack's frustration and need tore them apart. However, they could not break from each other. They were in each other's blood (so to speak). Their need for each other could not be shaken no matter what happened.


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Yep, yep and yep.  But we have to ask why Ennis always said "no."  The text is because of his marriage, his daughters and his job (and they are valid reasons), but the subtext is his fear of his homosexuality and its consequences.  Similarly, we have to ask why it's OK to have sex with women, but not with men.  And again, the subtext is his fear of his homosexuality and it consequences.  If Jack is queer, that makes Ennis queer, and that's his fear.  Fear is what controls Ennis.  His sexual needs and desires are not his controlling factors.  For Jack, they are big factors in what drives Jack.  Jack said they're different.  Ennis could make it, but Jack could not, on a couple of high altitude fs every year.

I agree with you on this point. But I also think that Jack could separate sex from love. He did have needs that were not being met by Ennis. Ennis gave his body and soul to Jack (again, not knowing that it was love) and felt completely betrayed when he found out Jack had sex with another man. Yet it was Jack who kept working on the relationship. He was the one who kept it going. He could not "quit" Ennis.


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Exactly!  And I'm not sure if by "fault" you’re referring to my comment about Jack failing Ennis at the truck, but if you are, I'm not saying that Jack's failure at that moment was the whole fault behind all of their problems over the years.  I'm saying that Ennis' fears are behind their problems, as the most significant factor, and that Jack had the opportunity to catch Ennis at his most vulnerable and to ameliorate those fears... or at least to begin the process... but he failed to recognize the opportunity.

When Ennis said that he hadn't yet had the opportunity, the text is that he hadn't yet had the opportunity to be a sinner, the subtext is that he was a virgin, and the symbolism is that of the (missed) opportunity that lay ahead for them, for their future.

I still believe that nothing would have changed. The romantic in me hopes that things would have been different. I just think that Ennis wasn't even close to the point where he would have considered breaking off his engagement to Alma.


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I don’t want to quibble over this interpretation because I think it's valid.  I do take it a little differently, though.  If we're going to pick out "vows" I’d have to go with the "We ain't queer" scene.  Here they set up the parameters for their relationship and define themselves (albeit incorrectly, as Jack later determines at the post-divorce truck scene).  I think that the "I swear" scene (after Junior leaves) is more of an indication to us that Ennis has now, after twenty years, come to the same realization about their vows that Jack did, that they were based on a lie.  And so, "I swear" certainly could be a new and more honest affirmation of their vows from Ennis.


No one will ever accuse me of being short-winded.  Personally, I'd rather have one long, detailed, well-articulated response than 100 short one-liners (such as "I disagree," or "In your opinion," or "Whatever!")  Thanks and cheers to you my BBB!      :)


You are right ... the "Jack, I swear .... "  has about a million different interpretations and I doubt that any one person could have the same conclusion. Maybe that's a good thing.

Well, I hope this wasn't too spare. I had originally more thought provoking answers. But since everything go erased and I started getting a bit sleepy .... oh well!!

Let's keep up the conversation. I love it! (It may be that I forget what I wrote tonight and have a different perception altogether tomorrow.  ::))
Diane

"We're supposed to guard the sheep, not eat 'em."

ruthlesslyunsentimental

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I am glad for your thoughtful response. It is nice to discuss this great film with someone who is as passionate about it as I am!

Amen!


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I had spent over an hour responding to this note and my computer shut down on me!  … I am going to start over again, …

This is what makes you a true BBB!


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… I was trying to be delicate in the description. I guess there is no way to make the word "cock" delicate. (I just thought it sounded better than penis).

Jack took Ennis’ hand and put it on his…

… manhood … little Jack … 21st digit … bean stalk  (get it?  Jack’s bean stalk…) … Jack in the box … pride and joy … should I start a new thread?


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We are both in agreement that Ennis would not have lived with Jack. Despite the communication (or lack thereof), IMO, Ennis would have still married Alma. Societal constraints and expectations dictated what Ennis would/ would not do. He was already engaged to Alma. He would have been unable to break it off with her to spend time or to be around Jack.  He was so worried about what others perceived that he tried everything in his power to make himself invisible. So, although Ennis was "available" at that time, nothing would have changed.

Yes, I agree.  But, he was at his most vulnerable.  I still think Jack could have tried something with him.  These guys were not great communicators and they were both confused at the truck.  I think a majority of people look at the screen here and yell “Say something!” to both of them (people seem to do this too when Jack later says “Sometimes I miss you so much…”).  Jack was supposed to be good with a can opener, but he didn’t use it here.  I still think they could have come to some better ending/beginning for themselves at this point and that it had to start with Jack.


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I think we have divergent ideas here. Both Jack and Ennis had opposite personality traits. Yet, they understood each other in a way no one else could or ever would. They did not pull each other apart until they left BBM ... when the world around them dictated what they "should" or "should not" do. Ennis' inability to give himself freely to Jack and Jack's frustration and need tore them apart. However, they could not break from each other. They were in each other's blood (so to speak). Their need for each other could not be shaken no matter what happened.

Agreed.


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I agree with you on this point. But I also think that Jack could separate sex from love. He did have needs that were not being met by Ennis. Ennis gave his body and soul to Jack (again, not knowing that it was love) and felt completely betrayed when he found out Jack had sex with another man. Yet it was Jack who kept working on the relationship. He was the one who kept it going. He could not "quit" Ennis.

I agree with everything except the last sentence.  But before I get into that, I need to hear how you define “quit.”


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I still believe that nothing would have changed. The romantic in me hopes that things would have been different. I just think that Ennis wasn't even close to the point where he would have considered breaking off his engagement to Alma.

This is where I’ve earned my user name.  I look at it very analytically and I think, again, that Ennis was at his most vulnerable, and I still think something could have changed.  For example, when Ennis said that that was the most he had spoken in a year, remember, the previous year for him was, presumably, with Alma in the picture.  His relationship with her could not have been that strong.  The way he strings his sentences together in the ‘yee-haw’ scene, I get the sense that it was very recently that his brother got married and probably told Ennis to go out into the world and find his way.  He concludes by saying “that’s why me end up here.”  I think his engagement to Alma was probably his brother’s or sister’s idea rather than his own – it’s just the sense I get.  He was a follower and his brother and sister were his leaders before Brokeback.  I really think that at the truck Ennis was begging (inside) for Jack to take the lead and say the right thing that would somehow make it all all right for Ennis.


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Let's keep up the conversation. I love it! (It may be that I forget what I wrote tonight and have a different perception altogether tomorrow.

Absolutely!  Now don’t let me catch you sleepin’ on your feet like a horse!  Nighty-night.

Offline serious crayons

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Re: Hello - I'm new here
« Reply #52 on: June 29, 2006, 04:18:58 am »
(Have I earned my user name yet?)      ;)

Gettin close!  ;)

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he can finally, to some extent, under extreme circumstances anyway, face the prospect that people "know."

I agree.  But you'd better watch out there.  With all of those qualifications (finally, to some extent, under extreme circumstances) you're sounding like me.      ;D

 :laugh: ... Not exactly, though. I see Ennis as struggling with what other people know; you (as I understand it) see Ennis as struggling with what he himself knows.

I think we're confronting what may be the biggest and maybe most immutable divide among Brokies -- more so than whether we empathize with Jack or Ennis (though there's probably some overlap). It's about when we think is the point in the movie -- early on or at the end? -- Ennis knows he loves Jack and and/or knows he is gay. Whether he believes the "I'm not queer" or is just posing. Whether the Mexico threat is about homophobia or jealousy and whether his lakeside collapse is about facing his sexuality or the fear he's losing Jack. I'm in the early/posing/jealousy/fear of losing school.

I believe Ennis knew he was gay long before he met Jack. He'd felt attracted to men for years, maybe since around the Earl time -- which is why the nightmare of growing up with a father who hates homosexuality enough to torture somebody to death for it made Ennis so pathologically shy and socially awkward. He's had to constantly hide a part of himself, to repress his thoughts whenever they come up, literally out of fear for his life. And he has become very practiced at it, as the crow-hopping scene illustrates. But hiding it isn't just a practical safety precaution; that horrific upbringing also colored Ennis' attitude. He hates his sexuality, he thinks his dad was right. So he doesn't like to admit it to himself (unlike Jack, shows little inner conflict about it). But at some level, Ennis knows how he feels about men. Just as later, he knows how he feels about Jack.

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All of this goes back to the pact they made on the mountain.  "I'm not queer."  "Me neither."  This is a pact between them that these behaviors of theirs can continue, but it can't be called "queer."  Ennis' greatest fear is being queer ... being found out to be queer ... and all that that would mean (for example, deserving of death in some people's minds, including his father's – and he once said he thought his father was right.  This was not a throw-away line.  Nor was it relegated to its simple text.  It had a subtext that would carry through to the Earl/Rich story.  His father’s hatred was taught to Ennis, Ennis learned it, and he thought it was right, his father was right).

I agree with most of what you say here -- he is terrified of being queer, and of being found out -- but not with your contention that he's so terrified he won't admit it to himself. Ennis may have attached all kinds of negative attributes to "queerness." But he also knows what it basically means -- a man who has sex with men. And he knows what he and Jack did last night, and that he wanted to do it then and to continue doing it. He realizes what that means. He doesn't want to slap the "queer" label on it, so he tries for a while to put those two ideas in separate compartments -- queerness is bad, being with Jack is good -- and manages to keep them tenuously separate (though not completely, hence his reluctance to party with the fire-and-brimstone crowd). But the dividers between these ideas gradually break down, increasing his fear that people -- on the pavement, in the white pickup -- "know."

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But when we get to "whatever name they choose to give it," that's where we need to look at the name Ennis chose to give it.  He called it a "thing."  He didn't say "love."  I believe that this is because Ennis just is not capable of understanding just what it is ... or better put, that he is just not in a place in his life, in his development, to understand just what it is.

It's almost impossible to imagine Ennis under any circumstances saying, "If this deep love I have for you, Jack, grabs hold of me at the wrong place, wrong time ..." That's just not in his character, as evidenced by all the other scenes where Jack says some nice endearment and Ennis clams up. He can express love physically, but rarely verbally -- the closest he comes is the "sending up a prayer of thanks" scene. (Which does come awfully close; he tells Jack he is so happy to be with him again that he is thanking God for it -- yes, he follows with a harmonica joke ((because, again, he's not a verbally affectionate guy)), but the slight pause Ennis gives after Jack says "For what?" is like Ennis saying, "Well, duh!") Anyway, there are plenty of stoic taciturn men who, though not conflicted about their sexuality, never use the word "love" to their partners -- yet nevertheless know they feel it. IMO, Ennis is one of those guys.

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When he speaks of people "knowing," I believe, that to Ennis it means people "knowing that WE do this stuff that we're not supposed to be doing."
 I really think that Ennis believes with all his might that his "thing" with Jack is a "thing" JUST with Jack.

I believe he doesn't separate the two that distinctly. Yes, "knows" means knowing what the two of them do, but he realizes that has implications about both their sexuality. When he asks if everything is "normal" between Jack and Lureen, it's because he knows it sure as hell wasn't normal with Alma. (And Jack lets him down here, too, IMO, by not admitting that his relationship with Lureen actually isn't ideal. Though Jack may just be trying to stay clear of Ennis' startle point.)

So he knows all these things as he goes along. After Jack's death, he realizes that hiding them was not worth losing the love of his life. Visiting the Twists, as I suggested earlier, means coming out to them. He's willing to face the Twists "knowing" -- in the kitchen, he realizes they both know, yet stays calm about it, doesn't run out and get himself beat up --  in order to do right by Jack.

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yet he still acted with his standard knee-jerk reaction to Alma's desire to have him at her wedding.  He's learning, no doubt, but he's still Ennis Del Mar.

Yeah, he reverts to his old ways, for about half a minute. His reflex is to tell her he's supposed to work -- because, in fact, he is. But since Jack's death he has been going over his mistakes, and realizing that his big one was putting other considerations ahead of love. He remembers this when he sees her disappointed look, and immediately changes his mind.

Whew! I'm sleeping in front of my computer like a horse, and I haven't even commented on the Timmy scene you referred to earlier, let alone all the them things I know (well, all them things I believe) about the lakeside argument ... but I guess there's always enough time for that, always enough.

 :)

* EDITED for lucidity the next morning (though, having stayed up so late, I'm not all that lucid now either).
« Last Edit: June 29, 2006, 11:40:39 am by latjoreme »

Offline Mikaela

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Apologies for spelling errors, inconsistencies and general lack of lucidity in the following. This got way too long and too convoluted, and I have to post now or forever let it be - I'll be off the net for some days and am in a big hurry (it's as if my boss just called to tell me all the heifers are calving at the same time!  ;D  ) So if you  feel like just skipping this - please do! I figured at least it shows yet another person has been reading the thread. Knowing there are readers out there is always a good thing, IMO.

~~~~

With that, Hi ruthlesslyunsentimental - good to make your acquaintance! What a lot of interesting and insightful posts you've provided, garnering responses equally thought-provoking - and I only became aware of this late yesterday,  :o  and then only  thanks to Katherine!  :)

I guess there's a lot I'd like to comment on, but there is the old, cold issue of time…….never enough.  :(  Katherine’s latest post says much that I intended to say – very well put!  (I apologise that some of my post may seem to be repeating Katerine’s points – I wrote part of my response late last night but then didn’t have time to finish it till now. And of course………interesting things have happened here in the meantime!)


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I think we're confronting what may be the biggest and maybe most immutable divide among Brokies  [Snip]  It's about when we think is the point in the movie -- early on or at the end? -- Ennis knows he loves Jack and and/or knows he is gay. Whether he believes the "I'm not queer" or is just posing. Whether the Mexico threat is about homophobia or jealousy and whether his lakeside collapse is about facing his sexuality or the fear he's losing Jack. I'm in the early/posing/jealousy/fear of losing school.

And so am I.

I know all too well how realistic it is that a person may have come to some hard-won and difficult self-realizations, and yet prove nearly unable to change, develop or take action based on the self-realization. To me it is entirely real, and more poignantly tragic, that Ennis *would* be conscious of the facts that he is queer, and that he loves Jack, - and yet based on his childhood conditioning and society’s general strictures be unable to take the consequences and make the changes that would award him that sweet life Jack talks of.

I'd like to mention up-front, though, that I don't think it's possible to reach a consensus on the topics under discussion here - they cut too deep and touch too personal places - and we all come at them from slightly different angles and with differing interpretations and emotions in tow. So rather than "counterarguments and refutations" I consider any comments I give to be explanations of my personal views, nothing more. I don't try to convince anyone to change their minds, and I am not insisting - ever - that my views are the "right ones".


That out of the way, I'd like to latch on to this quote of Ruthlessly's and take it from there:

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This is why Ennis' anger at Jack in the final lake scene is not about jealousy.  It's about fear.  That's his controlling emotion.  It's not that Ennis was jealous of Jack being with another man.  It was that Ennis was mad as hell at Jack that he broke their one-shot pact, their "I ain't queer" pact.  Because by breaking it, Jack said "I'm queer."  And that would make Ennis queer.  And his fears would not allow him to accept that reality.

I completely agree with you that Ennis's anger and later break-down in the lake scene is not about jealousy. I think it’s only partly about fear, though. And *not* fear of being queer / being found out as queer,-but fear of losing Jack. I don't see the fear of being outed as the only overriding fear throughout Ennis's life – there’s a development as the years pass;  his fear of being abandoned by Jack increasing over time. And at the Lake, Jack is standing there saying all this out loud: I've been going with others - you're too much for me – I’m not like you - I wish I knew how to quit you.

I agree with you concerning when Ennis falls in love. I agree concerning when he realized that Jack loved him. There’s a gap of nearly 20 years between the two events. I cannot pinpoint when, exactly, Ennis realizes that he loves Jack, but IMO it was early in the relationship. This is important to me because the knowledge of love intensifies Ennis’s fear of losing Jack, and his despair and desperation at being unable to do anything but what his homophobia dictates: Cut the connection, get married, stay married, pretend to being “normal”, meet way the hell out in the middle of nowhere, send Jack packing when he comes to Riverton, find a girlfriend, make himself about as accessible as the pope….. I believe as I do because I, like Katherine, cannot envisaging Ennis behaving the way he did, feeling like he did, responding physically and emotionally the way he did, and yet never reflecting about his emotions for Jack, never admitting to himself that the thing that grabs hold of him is love (or whichever word he’d care to use for that).

As for my opinion about whether Ennis thinks of himself as queer or not: I believe he does, and survives through compartmentalizing his life – the everyday “straight” one, and the “queer one” with Jack. After all, he was given a strong reason to be agonizingly sensitive to the issue, to worry over it and reflect on it, and to be on guard for any signs of “queerness” in himself – through his father’s callous and inhumane action towards his sons. I don’t think Ennis is in denial about himself – but he’s a master at repressing and shutting that part down in a deep dark recess of his mind, having been shown the need for doing so for his very own survival. I think he believes he could force it into submission, make it go away even, an effort that demanded a lot of his energy. Which is one reason (though not the only one) why he comes across almost as an emotionally clenched fist.

For admitting to himself that he’s queer doesn’t mean he’s anywhere near accepting it, or making his personal internal peace with it, though – not until the very end after he’s completely and utterly worn out. Ennis is a homophobe  and is filled with self-loathing.
That being so, I completely agree Ennis deeply fears being found out and outed. Oh, how he fears that, and not mainly because of the threat of physical violence, but because of the horrible shame it would entail. He is prepared to watch Jack drive out of his life in -63 for good because of it.

I also agree his paranoia increases over time.  As he has to admit to himself that he is not only queer, but unable to contain and repress his inclinations even after having returned back to “real life” from Brokeback, the risk of being found out, in his view, increases correspondingly and steadily. Full paranoia strikes as Alma cons him into believing that she’s deduced it from an innocent error on his part – if she could figure it out, others can, too. (I’ve always held that Alma got her revenge and then some when she didn’t admit to Ennis just how she found out about him and Jack.)

So here is Ennis; on a day-to-day basis he’s dealt with his fear of being outed and his shame of actually being queer through some sort of balancing act: The more the fear and shame and paranoia press on his mind, the more he behaves in counterpoint. Making himself continually (and apparently increasingly) inaccessible to Jack. Not opening up to let Jack in on his emotions, not letting Jack see that it’s in fact nearly killing him to have to make it on those few meetings a year. Not responding when Jack talks of missing him. As they reach the breaking point he hurls threats and accusations. He’s constantly acting in his own worst interest, and he knows that.  Is he punishing himself for being queer, thinking he deserves the misery he’s meting out? Is he distancing himself from the most loathed part of him (the queerness), and the most beloved (Jack), tangled up all in one as they are? Is he following his usual way of forcing those who care for him to quit him through his abandoning them first, emotionally and/or physically. (Is this just so much psycho-babble?  :-\ ::) )

In any case, he’s pushing himself towards actively engineering the eventual loss of Jack, the man he IMO is aware of loving and doesn’t want to lose for the world.

That he manages to carry on for 15 years with this sort of constant internal tug-of-war is simply amazing – what strength! And what a tragedy, the way his strength is employed……

I’m getting to my conclusion of this far-too-meandering and too-incoherent post: In the lake scene, Ennis’s long balancing act cannot be maintained any more. The stress has been increasing and the fractures that have developed breaks everything apart to come crashing down around his ears. And as that happens, Ennis’s truly deepest fear is at long last made clear to him and comes to a point all at once, - the point that his homophobia, self-loathing and lack of self-esteem have been driving him towards, the point that his knowledge of loving Jack has been resisting and struggling against:  Jack finally seems to be abandoning him. He seems to be losing Jack. And he *still* doesn’t know what to do or how to change…. I think I am grateful I shall never have to know what’s in Ennis’s mind and heart, as he drives away from Jack after the dozy flashback. That must be truly frightening and lonely places to be.



« Last Edit: June 29, 2006, 03:58:12 pm by Mikaela »

ruthlesslyunsentimental

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Re: Hello - I'm new here
« Reply #54 on: June 29, 2006, 04:13:56 pm »
I think we're confronting what may be the biggest and maybe most immutable divide among Brokies -- more so than whether we empathize with Jack or Ennis (though there's probably some overlap). It's about when we think is the point in the movie -- early on or at the end? -- Ennis knows he loves Jack and and/or knows he is gay. Whether he believes the "I'm not queer" or is just posing. Whether the Mexico threat is about homophobia or jealousy and whether his lakeside collapse is about facing his sexuality or the fear he's losing Jack. I'm in the early/posing/jealousy/fear of losing school.

With me, I can be in all of the camps or schools because I always look at every scene and every line as text, subtext, and metaphor (symbolism).  We all should agree on text since that’s what right in front of our faces. 

As to subtext, that’s where we all diverge.  I think there’s almost always more than one subtext going on, so I fall into all kinds of camps.  When I say something like “Mexico is not about jealousy, it’s fear of being queer,” what I really mean is that for me, following a thread of fear of being queer throughout, it’s about fear of being queer.  Now, if someone can come up with a thread of jealousy or fear of losing Jack that follows throughout the movie, then I’d be just fine with that other subtext.  Unfortunately, no one has ever done this – to my satisfaction – and I don’t like seeing just one instance of an explanation when another explanation seems to follow consistently throughout.

As to the metaphorical/symbolic level, we all don’t seem to diverge quite as much.  On this level, as long as the metaphor runs fairly smoothly and consistently throughout, people usually go with it.


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I believe Ennis knew he was gay long before he met Jack. He'd felt attracted to men for years, maybe since around the Earl time -- which is why the nightmare of growing up with a father who hates homosexuality enough to torture somebody to death for it made Ennis so pathologically shy and socially awkward. He's had to constantly hide a part of himself, to repress his thoughts whenever they come up, literally out of fear for his life. And he has become very practiced at it, as the crow-hopping scene illustrates. But hiding it isn't just a practical safety precaution; that horrific upbringing also colored Ennis' attitude. He hates his sexuality, he thinks his dad was right. So he doesn't like to admit it to himself (unlike Jack, shows little inner conflict about it). But at some level, Ennis knows how he feels about men. Just as later, he knows how he feels about Jack.

I agree completely, except with the first sentence, but I think you re-worded it nicely at the end of the quote.  “Ennis KNEW he was GAY” (my emphasis) is too much for me.  But I have no problem at all with “But at some level, Ennis knows how he feels about men.”  (Better, Jack.)


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I agree with most of what you say here -- he is terrified of being queer, and of being found out -- but not with your contention that he's so terrified he won't admit it to himself. Ennis may have attached all kinds of negative attributes to "queerness." But he also knows what it basically means -- a man who has sex with men. And he knows what he and Jack did last night, and that he wanted to do it then and to continue doing it. He realizes what that means. He doesn't want to slap the "queer" label on it, so he tries for a while to put those two ideas in separate compartments -- queerness is bad, being with Jack is good -- and manages to keep them tenuously separate (though not completely, hence his reluctance to party with the fire-and-brimstone crowd). But the dividers between these ideas gradually break down, increasing his fear that people -- on the pavement, in the white pickup -- "know."

Yes.  He knows that being queer is having sex with men.  But, here’s a crucial point -- I don’t think Ennis thinks of himself as queer or as having sex with men.  He has sex with Jack.  Nit picky?  Splitting hairs?  Not really.  Compartmentalizing seemingly consistent description with behavior into seemingly inconsistent compartments is what we as humans all do best.  Ennis has completely separated his understanding of his relationship with Jack apart from his internalized understanding of “queer.”  I think this a key point to the character of Ennis.  He knows what “queer” is, but he, himself, is not “queer.”  We say, “huh?”  But to Ennis it makes perfect sense.


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It's almost impossible to imagine Ennis under any circumstances saying, "If this deep love I have for you, Jack, grabs hold of me at the wrong place, wrong time ..."

 :laugh:     (Or to see Ennis say "C'mon, Jack, meet my girls ... girls, say "hi" ... this is Jack, he's gonna be your new mommy.")


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He can express love physically, but rarely verbally -- the closest he comes is the "sending up a prayer of thanks" scene. (Which does come awfully close; he tells Jack he is so happy to be with him again that he is thanking God for it -- yes, he follows with a harmonica joke ((because, again, he's not a verbally affectionate guy)), but the slight pause Ennis gives after Jack says "For what?" is like Ennis saying, "Well, duh!")

Don’t forget the “well, wrr-wrr-wrr” in the motel scene.  Or “nothing, nowhere, because of you.”


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Anyway, there are plenty of stoic taciturn men who, though not conflicted about their sexuality, never use the word "love" to their partners -- yet nevertheless know they feel it. IMO, Ennis is one of those guys.

Once again, I don’t deny the feelings that Ennis has, or that he knows that he has them.  It’s just what he calls them, how he processes and compartmentalizes them, has to fall in line with his character development, and his character is not one to understand love very well.


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I believe he doesn't separate the two that distinctly. Yes, "knows" means knowing what the two of them do, but he realizes that has implications about both their sexuality.

I still think Ennis has a disconnect here.  It’s his coping mechanism.


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When he asks if everything is "normal" between Jack and Lureen, it's because he knows it sure as hell wasn't normal with Alma. (And Jack lets him down here, too, IMO, by not admitting that his relationship with Lureen actually isn't ideal. Though Jack may just be trying to stay clear of Ennis' startle point.)

Could be the startle point, but it could also be that Jack does view his marriage as “normal.”  Even Lureen says MEN don’t want to dance with their wives.  That’s the norm… MEN don’t … well, you know!

But I think when he says “normal” here he’s referring (for the audience sake) to what just happened at Thanksgiving.  He then brings up whether Lureen suspects.  He could mean “It’s all OK with you two, the secret’s still safe?”  Ennis has a strange way of phrasing things.  For example he prefaces this with his comment about going out on the pavement.  Huh?  Who ever says that?  And how is that different from “in town?”  But the word is there to tie back to him getting beaten to the pavement in the previous scene and to him raking pavement early in his marriage.  He could be referring to the fact that Alma caught Ennis making mistakes (not noticing the note and taking care of it) and he could be asking Jack if he’s making mistakes that Lureen is finding out about.  (Hmmmm, this line of thought could take us straight to the argument that some people make about Jack dying by gay-bash murder because he gets careless…)


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So he knows all these things as he goes along. After Jack's death, he realizes that hiding them was not worth losing the love of his life. Visiting the Twists, as I suggested earlier, means coming out to them. He's willing to face the Twists "knowing" -- in the kitchen, he realizes they both know, yet stays calm about it, doesn't run out and get himself beat up --  in order to do right by Jack.

I can go with this.  Also, it’s interesting that throughout the film, the societal homophobia has no real impact on him – in terms of having his worst fear realized.  Yes, I know, it’s homophobia that placed that fear into him in the first place.  But after that, Aguirre finds out, and it has no impact on Ennis.  Alma sees them kiss, and it has no direct impact on Ennis.  She sits on it for a long time.  She outs him in the kitchen at her Thanksgiving Spectacular and, yet, still, there’s no real impact – he’s the one who starts the fight with the driver.  It’s his fears that have the impact on him.  And the Twist home scene is his first step, not in coming out, but in overcoming his fears.

(You know, I always thought that maybe the Twist ranch wouldn’t be so rundown if Old Man Twist would get off his ass and do some work instead of just sitting in the kitchen spitting tobacco in the middle of the day.  I’m sure Ennis would have appreciated his absence.  But, we all know he had to be there to work the development in Ennis.)


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Yeah, he reverts to his old ways, for about half a minute. His reflex is to tell her he's supposed to work -- because, in fact, he is. But since Jack's death he has been going over his mistakes, and realizing that his big one was putting other considerations ahead of love. He remembers this when he sees her disappointed look, and immediately changes his mind.

Yes.  He is changing.  But it’s very slow.  Maybe, today, in 2006, he can hold one of his little great-grandchildren and say “I love you.”  Maybe.

(Just thought of something.  Since you’re a self-described romantic, wouldn’t it be even better if Ennis was saving his first, true “I love you” for when he meets up with Jack again, in spirit?  That’s kinda precious, if you ask me.  And people call me ruthlessly unsentimental… geez!   ;))



« Last Edit: June 29, 2006, 04:43:49 pm by ruthlesslyunsentimental »

Offline serious crayons

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Re: Hello - I'm new here
« Reply #55 on: June 29, 2006, 04:35:54 pm »
(Just thought of something.  Since you’re a self-described romantic, wouldn’t it be even better if Ennis was saving his first, true “I love you” for when he meets up with Jack again, in spirit?  That’s kinda precious, if you ask me.  And people call me ruthlessly unsentimental… geez!)

 :laugh:

Guess I'm a romantic with a need for immediate gratification and little faith in the afterlife.

You're right that he "almost" says it those other two times. Not only that, but I'm one of those -- and I know this is highly contested -- who believe that he actually says "I love you" in the closet, to the empty shirts.

As for the other issues, I don't have time to write anything; I was supposed to be on the road half an hour ago and yet I'm still here, unable to tear myself away from my computer. But for now, let me just say ditto, ditto, ditto to Mikaela's post. All of what she says pretty much exactly match my views.

In the lake scene, Ennis’s long balancing act cannot be maintained any more. The stress has been increasing and the fractures that have developed breaks everything apart to come crashing down around his ears. And as that happens, Ennis’s truly deepest fear is at long last made clear to him and comes to a point all at once, - the point that his homophobia, self-loathing and lack of self-esteem have been driving him towards, the point that his knowledge of loving Jack has been resisting and struggling against:  Jack finally seems to be abandoning him. He seems to be losing Jack. And he *still* doesn’t know what to do or how to change…. I think I am grateful I shall never have to know what’s in Ennis’s mind and heart, as he drives away from Jack after the dozy flashback. That must be truly frightening and lonely places to be.

Beautifully expressed, Mikaela!  :-*


ruthlesslyunsentimental

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With that, Hi ruthlesslyunsentimental - good to make your acquaintance!

Pleased to meet you, ma’am.


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I completely agree with you that Ennis's anger and later break-down in the lake scene is not about jealousy. I think it’s only partly about fear, though. And *not* fear of being queer / being found out as queer,-but fear of losing Jack. I don't see the fear of being outed as the only overriding fear throughout Ennis's life – there’s a development as the years pass;  his fear of being abandoned by Jack increasing over time. And at the Lake, Jack is standing there saying all this out loud: I've been going with others - you're too much for me – I’m not like you - I wish I knew how to quit you.

Yep.  No problem here.  Just another subtext that works for me.  As we’ve said above, rejection is a major force in Ennis’ life, too.


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I agree with you concerning when Ennis falls in love. I agree concerning when he realized that Jack loved him. There’s a gap of nearly 20 years between the two events. I cannot pinpoint when, exactly, Ennis realizes that he loves Jack, but IMO it was early in the relationship. This is important to me because the knowledge of love intensifies Ennis’s fear of losing Jack, and his despair and desperation at being unable to do anything but what his homophobia dictates: Cut the connection, get married, stay married, pretend to being “normal”, meet way the hell out in the middle of nowhere, send Jack packing when he comes to Riverton, find a girlfriend, make himself about as accessible as the pope….. I believe as I do because I, like Katherine, cannot envisaging Ennis behaving the way he did, feeling like he did, responding physically and emotionally the way he did, and yet never reflecting about his emotions for Jack, never admitting to himself that the thing that grabs hold of him is love (or whichever word he’d care to use for that).

I agree with everything except just one tiny thing – the word “love.”  That’s a tiny thing isn’t it?    ;)   I think it’s his inability to make the connection between his physical and emotional responses to Jack with the word “love” that intensifies his fear of losing Jack AND of being “queer.”  The intensity is his non-understanding.  It would seem to me to be logical that if he understands his feelings and his relationship with Jack and the word “love,” that he would be able to address these issues and work through them and not be so conflicted.  But he only does this over a long twenty year period.  He is working toward an understanding, but it’s taking a lot of time, it’s taking a lot of experiences, it’s taking a lot of denials and rejections on his part, it’s taking a lot of conversations (not just with Jack).  It seems to me that the whole film from the reunion river scene until the end amounts mainly to people, events, actions, and inactions working on Ennis to bring him to an understanding of the disconnected dots in his life (his physical and emotional responses to Jack, the word “queer,” his feelings, the word “love,” his relationships with others such as Alma (both Sr. and Jr.) and Cassie).


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… I don’t think Ennis is in denial about himself – but he’s a master at repressing and shutting that part down in a deep dark recess of his mind, having been shown the need for doing so for his very own survival. I think he believes he could force it into submission, make it go away even, an effort that demanded a lot of his energy. Which is one reason (though not the only one) why he comes across almost as an emotionally clenched fist.

To me, everything you wrote after the dash adds up “denial.”  I’m not sure how you’re distinguishing the two.


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For admitting to himself that he’s queer doesn’t mean he’s anywhere near accepting it, or making his personal internal peace with it, though – not until the very end after he’s completely and utterly worn out. Ennis is a homophobe  and is filled with self-loathing.
That being so, I completely agree Ennis deeply fears being found out and outed. Oh, how he fears that, and not mainly because of the threat of physical violence, but because of the horrible shame it would entail. He is prepared to watch Jack drive out of his life in -63 for good because of it.

While I see Ennis as being terribly fearful of being outed by others and to others, I guess I see Ennis as being even more afraid of being outed by himself, to himself.


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Full paranoia strikes as Alma cons him into believing that she’s deduced it from an innocent error on his part – if she could figure it out, others can, too. (I’ve always held that Alma got her revenge and then some when she didn’t admit to Ennis just how she found out about him and Jack.)

This is excellent!  You get the Best-New-Brokeback-Idea-I’ve-Heard-in-a-Long-Time Award.  Someone!  Get this woman a can of beans!


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So here is Ennis; on a day-to-day basis he’s dealt with his fear of being outed and his shame of actually being queer through some sort of balancing act: The more the fear and shame and paranoia press on his mind, the more he behaves in counterpoint. Making himself continually (and apparently increasingly) inaccessible to Jack. Not opening up to let Jack in on his emotions, not letting Jack see that it’s in fact nearly killing him to have to make it on those few meetings a year. Not responding when Jack talks of missing him. As they reach the breaking point he hurls threats and accusations. He’s constantly acting in his own worst interest, and he knows that.  Is he punishing himself for being queer, thinking he deserves the misery he’s meting out? Is he distancing himself from the most loathed part of him (the queerness), and the most beloved (Jack), tangled up all in one as they are? Is he following his usual way of forcing those who care for him to quit him through his abandoning them first, emotionally and/or physically.

Again, excellent.  The only thing I’d do is change “his shame of actually being queer” to “his fear of outing himself, to himself.”  Then it really works for me.

(Oh, and I guess I’d also change “tangled up all in one as they are” to “all tied up in knots.”  But that’s because I love the metaphorical level.)


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Is this just so much psycho-babble?

NO!  And this is an answer I won’t budge from.


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I’m getting to my conclusion of this far-too-meandering and too-incoherent post: In the lake scene, Ennis’s long balancing act cannot be maintained any more. The stress has been increasing and the fractures that have developed breaks everything apart to come crashing down around his ears. And as that happens, Ennis’s truly deepest fear is at long last made clear to him and comes to a point all at once, - the point that his homophobia, self-loathing and lack of self-esteem have been driving him towards, the point that his knowledge of loving Jack has been resisting and struggling against:  Jack finally seems to be abandoning him. He seems to be losing Jack. And he *still* doesn’t know what to do or how to change….

I disagree with “far-too-meandering and too-incoherent post.”  Otherwise, nicely said.


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I think I am grateful I shall never have to know what’s in Ennis’s mind and heart, as he drives away from Jack after the dozy flashback.

He’s probably thinking “Boy, that was harder than untanglin’ them Chilean sheep!” – just to end on a lighter note.


Great discussion!  Thanks!

Offline dly64

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First, Ruth - I have to respond to your ..... ummmm .... discussion of what I should have called the "you know what..."

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Jack took Ennis’ hand and put it on his…

… manhood … little Jack … 21st digit … bean stalk  (get it?  Jack’s bean stalk…) … Jack in the box … pride and joy … should I start a new thread?

OMG!!! I just laughed so hard I could hardly breath!!! Yes, there could be many other names I could have used. You win on that one!!! :laugh:

I guess there's a lot I'd like to comment on, but there is the old, cold issue of time…….never enough.  :(  Katherine’s latest post says much that I intended to say – very well put!  (I apologise that some of my post may seem to be repeating Katerine’s points – I wrote part of my response late last night but then didn’t have time to finish it till now. And of course………interesting things have happened here in the meantime!)

I know all too well how realistic it is that a person may have come to some hard-won and difficult self-realizations, and yet prove nearly unable to change, develop or take action based on the self-realization. To me it is entirely real, and more poignantly tragic, that Ennis *would* be conscious of the facts that he is queer, and that he loves Jack, - and yet based on his childhood conditioning and society’s general strictures be unable to take the consequences and make the changes that would award him that sweet life Jack talks of.

I'd like to mention up-front, though, that I don't think it's possible to reach a consensus on the topics under discussion here - they cut too deep and touch too personal places - and we all come at them from slightly different angles and with differing interpretations and emotions in tow. So rather than "counterarguments and refutations" I consider any comments I give to be explanations of my personal views, nothing more. I don't try to convince anyone to change their minds, and I am not insisting - ever - that my views are the "right ones".

Ditto. I enjoy hearing all points of view, however. It makes the experience of BBM more enjoyable!

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I completely agree with you that Ennis's anger and later break-down in the lake scene is not about jealousy. I think it’s only partly about fear, though. And *not* fear of being queer / being found out as queer,-but fear of losing Jack. I don't see the fear of being outed as the only overriding fear throughout Ennis's life – there’s a development as the years pass;  his fear of being abandoned by Jack increasing over time. And at the Lake, Jack is standing there saying all this out loud: I've been going with others - you're too much for me – I’m not like you - I wish I knew how to quit you.

I think this is an interesting point that I had not really considered. I don't think the whole "Mexico" discussion was a revelation to Ennis. He knew .... I believe he knew or suspected something. However, I still think Ennis felt betrayed and hurt. I don't know that I would classify that as jealousy.

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I agree with you concerning when Ennis falls in love. I agree concerning when he realized that Jack loved him. There’s a gap of nearly 20 years between the two events. I cannot pinpoint when, exactly, Ennis realizes that he loves Jack, but IMO it was early in the relationship. This is important to me because the knowledge of love intensifies Ennis’s fear of losing Jack, and his despair and desperation at being unable to do anything but what his homophobia dictates: Cut the connection, get married, stay married, pretend to being “normal”, meet way the hell out in the middle of nowhere, send Jack packing when he comes to Riverton, find a girlfriend, make himself about as accessible as the pope….. I believe as I do because I, like Katherine, cannot envisaging Ennis behaving the way he did, feeling like he did, responding physically and emotionally the way he did, and yet never reflecting about his emotions for Jack, never admitting to himself that the thing that grabs hold of him is love (or whichever word he’d care to use for that).

This is where I have a divergent opinion ... I do believe Ennis loved Jack very early on. I don't believe, however, that he understood what he was feeling was love. When they departed BBM, Ennis broke down. He was angry at himself for having any intensity of feeling (for Jack). IMO, it wasn't until he breaks down at the lake that he realized the intensity of his feelings were  "love" ... which, ultimately, was too late .... after Jack was gone. Ennis had to live the rest of his life dealing with regret and disillusionment.

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As for my opinion about whether Ennis thinks of himself as queer or not: I believe he does, and survives through compartmentalizing his life – the everyday “straight” one, and the “queer one” with Jack. After all, he was given a strong reason to be agonizingly sensitive to the issue, to worry over it and reflect on it, and to be on guard for any signs of “queerness” in himself – through his father’s callous and inhumane action towards his sons. I don’t think Ennis is in denial about himself – but he’s a master at repressing and shutting that part down in a deep dark recess of his mind, having been shown the need for doing so for his very own survival. I think he believes he could force it into submission, make it go away even, an effort that demanded a lot of his energy. Which is one reason (though not the only one) why he comes across almost as an emotionally clenched fist.

For admitting to himself that he’s queer doesn’t mean he’s anywhere near accepting it, or making his personal internal peace with it, though – not until the very end after he’s completely and utterly worn out. Ennis is a homophobe  and is filled with self-loathing.
That being so, I completely agree Ennis deeply fears being found out and outed. Oh, how he fears that, and not mainly because of the threat of physical violence, but because of the horrible shame it would entail. He is prepared to watch Jack drive out of his life in -63 for good because of it.

I agree with much of what you say. The one thing I disgree on, however, is Ennis' knowledge that he is homosexual. He is in denial. I think the sentence (although other Brokies disagree on this) ... "It's because of you, Jack, that I'm like this. I'm nothin' ... I'm nowhere ..." indicates that he blames Jack for all of his feelings. (i.e. that he loves a man). So, being the dork that I am ... I just want to quote the dictionary for the word, "denial":

a psychological defense mechanism in which confrontation with a personal problem or with reality is avoided by denying the existence of the problem or reality

That explains Ennis. Even after Jack has died, I don't think Ennis considered himself gay. He did, however, know he loved Jack and that he has lost the one person who understood him completely.

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I also agree his paranoia increases over time.  As he has to admit to himself that he is not only queer, but unable to contain and repress his inclinations even after having returned back to “real life” from Brokeback, the risk of being found out, in his view, increases correspondingly and steadily. Full paranoia strikes as Alma cons him into believing that she’s deduced it from an innocent error on his part – if she could figure it out, others can, too. (I’ve always held that Alma got her revenge and then some when she didn’t admit to Ennis just how she found out about him and Jack.)

I think this is a very good point. IMO, it was not that he was worried other people would find out he was gay .... it was that they would find out he was having relations with a man (which may seem like splitting hairs, but it isn't. He did not see himself as "queer").

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So here is Ennis; on a day-to-day basis he’s dealt with his fear of being outed and his shame of actually being queer through some sort of balancing act: The more the fear and shame and paranoia press on his mind, the more he behaves in counterpoint. Making himself continually (and apparently increasingly) inaccessible to Jack. Not opening up to let Jack in on his emotions, not letting Jack see that it’s in fact nearly killing him to have to make it on those few meetings a year. Not responding when Jack talks of missing him. As they reach the breaking point he hurls threats and accusations. He’s constantly acting in his own worst interest, and he knows that.  Is he punishing himself for being queer, thinking he deserves the misery he’s meting out? Is he distancing himself from the most loathed part of him (the queerness), and the most beloved (Jack), tangled up all in one as they are? Is he following his usual way of forcing those who care for him to quit him through his abandoning them first, emotionally and/or physically. (Is this just so much psycho-babble?  :-\ ::) )

In any case, he’s pushing himself towards actively engineering the eventual loss of Jack, the man he IMO is aware of loving and doesn’t want to lose for the world.

That he manages to carry on for 15 years with this sort of constant internal tug-of-war is simply amazing – what strength! And what a tragedy, the way his strength is employed……

I’m getting to my conclusion of this far-too-meandering and too-incoherent post: In the lake scene, Ennis’s long balancing act cannot be maintained any more. The stress has been increasing and the fractures that have developed breaks everything apart to come crashing down around his ears. And as that happens, Ennis’s truly deepest fear is at long last made clear to him and comes to a point all at once, - the point that his homophobia, self-loathing and lack of self-esteem have been driving him towards, the point that his knowledge of loving Jack has been resisting and struggling against:  Jack finally seems to be abandoning him. He seems to be losing Jack. And he *still* doesn’t know what to do or how to change…. I think I am grateful I shall never have to know what’s in Ennis’s mind and heart, as he drives away from Jack after the dozy flashback. That must be truly frightening and lonely places to be.

You have a lot of compelling arguements here and there are some things I agree with. However, the crux of what you say has to do with Ennis' knowledge that he is homosexual and that he loves Jack. That is where I have a divergent opinion. I don't think Ennis acknowledges that he is gay, ever. He doesn't see himself in those terms. As for loving Jack .... he realized it, IMO, at the lake scene after he broke down. You know I have used quotes before from the screenwriters and Ang on another post, so I won't repeat it here. It's okay to disregard what Diana, Larry and Ang have said. But, IMO, everything reinforces my opinion that Ennis did not understand that he loved Jack until it was too late. Therein lies the tragedy.


Diane

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ruthlesslyunsentimental

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First, Ruth - I have to respond to your ..... ummmm .... discussion of what I should have called the "you know what..."

OMG!!! I just laughed so hard I could hardly breath!!! Yes, there could be many other names I could have used. You win on that one!!! :laugh:

Well, as usual, I tried to avoid the obvious…


I know the rest of your responses were to mikaela’s post, but I hope you don’t mind me jumping in here with my two cents worth.


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IMO, it wasn't until he breaks down at the lake that he realized the intensity of his feelings were  "love" ... which, ultimately, was too late .... after Jack was gone. Ennis had to live the rest of his life dealing with regret and disillusionment.

I’m not sure.  I think this is where all of his worlds, all of his truths, lies and secrets, all came together and crashed head-on.  So I think that his lakeside breakdown coalesces all of these things for him so that from this point on, he has to start thinking of everything in a new way.  It seems to me that here is where the word “love” is struggling to make itself known to Ennis.  After this he talks with Cassie who explains that it’s not about fun – a clue to Ennis that Jack did not compartmentalize their relationship as fun.  Then he talks with Lureen… here, the two people who could claim Jack as their “husband” (if you will) come together and talk.  Here, Lureen gives Ennis another clue that Jack did not compartmentalize their relationship in the same way that Ennis did.  Then he pays a call on the Twists and sets a spell.  Old Man Twist gives Ennis another two clues about how Jack viewed their relationship.  And here is where Ennis gets to see two people who were significant in Jack's life and how differently they viewed him.  He can feel the contempt oozing out of Old Man Twist; but, Mrs. Twist shows Ennis that she is someone who loved Jack and, with her hand of compassion, nudges Ennis to go and find that love -- all of this building up in Ennis and culminating in finding the shirts.  Here, to me, is where Ennis realizes it was “love.”  This is what makes his reaction to Jr.’s affirmation of Kurt’s love for her so poignant.  She’s 19, the same age as he was when he met Jack, and he’s making sure that she knows that Kurt loves her so that she won’t have to go through the next twenty years without understanding, as he did.


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So, being the dork that I am ... I just want to quote the dictionary for the word, "denial":

a psychological defense mechanism in which confrontation with a personal problem or with reality is avoided by denying the existence of the problem or reality

That explains Ennis. Even after Jack has died, I don't think Ennis considered himself gay. He did, however, know he loved Jack and that he has lost the one person who understood him completely.

I agree.  This is certainly my take on it.  He’s just a big old bundle of “psychological defense mechanisms,” ain’t he?   :laugh:


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I think this is a very good point. IMO, it was not that he was worried other people would find out he was gay .... it was that they would find out he was having relations with a man (which may seem like splitting hairs, but it isn't. He did not see himself as "queer").

Or, that he was worried that he, himself, would find out that he, himself, is “queer.”  No more denying it.


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IMO, everything reinforces my opinion that Ennis did not understand that he loved Jack until it was too late. Therein lies the tragedy.

Very well put, dly64.  You should have been up on that mountain.   :)
« Last Edit: June 30, 2006, 02:47:41 am by ruthlesslyunsentimental »

Offline dly64

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I know the rest of your responses were to mikaela’s post, but I hope you don’t mind me jumping in here with my two cents worth.

I was hoping to hear your opinion!

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I’m not sure.  think this is where all of his worlds, all of his truths, lies and secrets, all came together and crashed head-on.  So I think that his lakeside breakdown coalesces all of these things for him so that from this point on, he has to start thinking of everything in a new way.  It seems to me that here is where the word “love” is struggling to make itself known to Ennis.  After this he talks with Cassie who explains that it’s not about fun – a clue to Ennis that Jack did not compartmentalize their relationship as fun.  Then he talks with Lureen… here, the two people who could claim Jack as their “husband” (if you will) come together and talk.  Here, Lureen gives Ennis another clue that Jack did not compartmentalize their relationship in the same way that Ennis did.  Then he pays a call on the Twists and sets a spell.  Old Man Twist gives Ennis another two clues about how Jack viewed their relationship.  And here is where Ennis gets to see two people who were significant in Jack's life and how differently they viewed him.  He can feel the contempt oozing out of Old Man Twist; but, Mrs. Twist shows Ennis that she is someone who loved Jack and, with her hand of compassion, nudges Ennis to go and find that love -- all of this building up in Ennis and culminating in finding the shirts.  Here, to me, is where Ennis realizes it was “love.”  This is what makes his reaction to Jr.’s affirmation of Kurt’s love for her so poignant.  She’s 19, the same age as he was when he met Jack, and he’s making sure that she knows that Kurt loves her so that she won’t have to go through the next twenty years without understanding, as he did.

I can agree with your sentences that I highlighted in blue above. I especially like the last part of your statement. I had not thought of it in that way, but I definitely agree with it.

I already am known as the queen of quotes ... so Katherine, Mikaela et.al. ...  just ignore this statement. For me it was helpful. Previously, in another thread, I quoted Ang Lee, Diana Ossana and Larry McMurty ...:

You've been quoted as saying the movie is about the impossibility of love?

Ang Lee: I think the gay factors, after a while, maybe half the movie, the circumstances are set. They can live together. Ennis has a choice to make it work. That's why Jack complains later in the movie. All they got is Brokeback? That's bullshit. They're both gays, but one chooses to be more adventurous. The other has to go through self denial and only accepts it when it's too late, when he missed him. That is true. Eventually we surpass the obstacles and it's really a search for that obscure object of love.


http://www.movieweb.com/news/28/10128.php

Here is another interview with Diana Ossana and Larry McMurty that also indicates when Ennis realized he loved Jack:

MW: For what purpose did you expand the role of Cassie (Linda Cardellini), and what part did she play in Ennis’ relationship to the women in his life?
DO: Cassie somewhat exemplifies Ennis’s continual denial of his emotional makeup, and his attempts to have what he believed was a “normal” relationship with a woman. After his and Jack’s final confrontation about Mexico, Ennis realizes that it is Jack he truly loves, and he simply cannot continue in his attempts at a relationship with Cassie, thus her confronting him in the diner about his whereabouts and her frustrations and painful realization that she’s not “the one.”

http://www.cinemalogue.com/2006/02/14/brokeback-interview/

A second interview talks about Ennis' homophobia at what point he gets to by the end of the film:

McMurtry: I don’t think Ennis would kill himself.
Ossana: He’s too tough. That would be a sign of weakness, and it would leave a memory of him as being weak, and I don’t think he would want that. But I do think that Ennis knows that people probably know that he’s homosexual, and emotionally [at the end of the film] I think he makes a tiny bit of progress, because he agrees to attend Alma Jr.’s wedding. Finally he compromises—
McMurtry: And doesn’t disappoint a woman.
Ossana: It’s the first time in the film that he doesn’t disappoint someone, male or female. It’s a tiny baby step, but he does it. I just don’t know how much [more] he’s capable of changing. I think if anything, he might become even more homophobic and bitter because of what he did, what he gave up, what he lost, what he’ll never have.

http://www.advocate.com/currentstory1_w.asp?id=25277&page=2

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Or, that he was worried that he, himself, would find out that he, himself, is “queer.”  No more denying it.

I think what you say has validity. I just have the belief, however, that he did not see himself as gay, period. He was never able to come to grips with that truth. He did come to realize that all of the feelings he had for Jack were, indeed, love. But by that time, it was too late.

What I find interesting is that when  Ennis goes up to Jack's room, and he opens the window .... IMO, it symbolizes the opening of himself to Jack. Jack's closet door was open, but the shirts were (partially) hidden. I think that illustrates two things: 1) that Jack was more open to his own sexuality (i.e. that he was gay), but 2) he kept his relationship with Ennis hidden, private and cherished.

The shirts in Ennis' closet represent his love for Jack. It, too, is kept hidden, private and cherished. But he closes the closet door. IMO, he is accepting his love for Jack, but he keeps, even to himself, his sexuality "in the closet".

Diane

"We're supposed to guard the sheep, not eat 'em."