Author Topic: You shut up about Ennis - this ain't (all) his fault  (Read 86038 times)

Offline serious crayons

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This is getting to be a strange thread. Instead of everybody debating in multiple directions, most of the posts seem to be one-on-one debates with Ruthlessly. But -- what can I say? -- here I go doing the same.

This is a good question, but it's probably best answered by what you've said you've observed in the real world.  You've pointed out that there are people who don't struggle with internalized homophobia... and we know that there are people who struggle with it (Ennis, for example – he’s real world, isn’t he?).  Different kinds of people in different kinds of situations with different needs and different agendas.  Ennis just happens to fall into his particular category, into which I'm sure there are still a lot of other people who fall.

But I'm not discounting Ennis' internalized homophobia in shaping his reaction. I'm sure, in fact, that's a factor. But I prefer to be inclusive. To me, boiling it down to JUST homophobia seems to remove Ennis from the real world. Instead of experiencing a hodge-podge of real-world feelings, a mix of emotional conflicts -- homophobia, sure, but also, and perhaps primarily, jealousy because the man he has loved for 20 years is seeing other men -- he becomes a pawn in a literary scheme rather than a three-dimensional real-life living human being (which he is, isn't he? ISN''T HE??!?).  ???

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But Ennis has a special circumstance -- internalized homophobia.  And this has been presented to us as his motivating factor.  We can analyze Moby Dick up the yin-yang, but we still have to come back to the prime motivating factor that was laid out for us, the theme the author wanted to convey.  For this film, the theme is the damaging effects of rural homophobia. 

This is what I mean. Is he Ennis, or is he Moby? Does he react like anybody might, upon hearing of their loved one's unfaithfulness, or does he react like a literary character fulfilling his thematic duty?

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Ennis and Jack love each other, right?  And they're meant for each other, right? Well then why is Ennis having sex with Cassie?  Simply because Jack won't mind?  Is that faithful?  He won't give himself to Jack the way Jack wants and so he has sex with Cassie.  What if they lived together?  Would he still have sex with Cassie?  No.  What's changed?  Living together.  So why don't they live together?  Ennis' fears.  Without Ennis' fears, Ennis would live with Jack and not have sex with Cassie.  That's faithful.

I think I agree with everything here. Ennis definitely does have fears about living with Jack. They're just not his only motivation in the lakeside argument. He's not having sex with Cassie simply because Jack won't mind. It's because, yes, he doesn't want to have people know he's gay AND he doesn't think Jack would mind (personally, I think Jack minds more than Ennis realizes, but ...).

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  Jack told Ennis that Jack has been having sex with the neighbor’s wife.  Ennis could care less.  He doesn’t even see it as a contributing factor to the disassociation of their relationship (as opposed to Jack who sees Cassie as just another obstacle that he's going to have to deal with).  What's the difference between a man and a woman?

One difference could be that Ennis realizes Jack is gay, realizes Ennis is gay, and therefore doesn't see involvement with women as a threat. Your explanation of homophobia also works here, of course. It could even be a combination. I'm just more inclined to pick Door No. 1.

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  It's great to listen to because it's got almost all of the music from the film in order -- especially all the wordless music – it adds the harmonica playing, “Water-Walking Jesus,” the music heard while Ennis looks at the word “deceased,” and the music during Ennis’ time in Jack’s closet and driving home.  It also adds some songs that we only heard snippets of and they pack a wallop when heard in their entirety.  Since it’s very nearly complete and in order, you can play out the film in your head while listening.

Does yours have "Melissa"? I am disappointed that the regular soundtrack doesn't include it, the song Ennis and Cassie dance to on their date with Alma Jr. I miss that one especially, because Ennis himself picked it from the jukebox, and it seems to unconsciously reflect his feelings about Jack and Cassie ("knowing many, loving none; sharing sorrows, having fun -- but back home he'll always run ..."). Of all the pre-existing songs in the movie, that has always been my favorite (in the context of the movie, anyway).

Offline welliwont

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the arguements, explanation, deep analysis and interpretations in this thread are simply awsome.  I haven't had time to read the whole thing and to follow all the cross-references, to each others points of view,  etc, but this is an award-winning discussion for sure!!   :) :)

I cannot argue points as eloquently as y'all, but I am reading this thread, and I would just like to point out again (am I going to be banned from here for sounding like a broken record?)  that the following conclusion is not logical IMO:

Ennis knows that being queer is having sex with men + Ennis has sex with Jack ≠ Ennis does not think of himself as queer.

How can he not?  He is sane and rational, is he not?  And he did ask Jack at the riverside "Do you ever get the feeling that people know?"  I realize that sometimes people can make excuses for their behaviour to the point of believing that it is something other than what it is, (I mean self-delusional) but when it comes to something as concrete as having sex with a man over and over and over for half of one's life, this ain't no little thing that's happenin here.

I cannot follow the interprectation that says Ennis did not think of himself as gay.  Oh well..






Then the clouds opened up and God said, "I hate you, Alfafa."

Offline dly64

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....the following conclusion is not logical IMO:

Ennis knows that being queer is having sex with men + Ennis has sex with Jack ≠ Ennis does not think of himself as queer.

How can he not?  He is sane and rational, is he not?  And he did ask Jack at the riverside "Do you ever get the feeling that people know?"  I realize that sometimes people can make excuses for their behaviour to the point of believing that it is something other than what it is, (I mean self-delusional) but when it comes to something as concrete as having sex with a man over and over and over for half of one's life, this ain't no little thing that's happenin here.

I cannot follow the interprectation that says Ennis did not think of himself as gay.  Oh well..

Not everyone agrees with me on this ... so I am going to try and explain this in another way …..

There is a "phenomenon" in the US with African-American men. It is called being on the “down low”. To make a long story short, these are two men getting together to have sex. Neither one sees themselves as gay. But they are having sex with another man. There are no emotional ties. It is strictly sex. The other piece of this whole “down low” thing, is that neither one of the men can be “gay”. Now how bizarre is that?  To you and me, we would say … “these guys are gay”.

Now plug Ennis into this same line of thinking …. Ennis did not see himself as gay. Jack (initially) did not see himself as gay … (it is unclear to me if Jack ever considered himself gay. However, he was much more in touch with his sexual needs being fulfilled by a man). Yes, they had sex together. But for Ennis, it is only Jack. He is not attracted to any other man. He has no desire to be with another man. Think of the line Ennis says to Jack when they talk about Mexico:

“Well, you been to Mexico, Jack? Huh? ‘Cause I hear what they got in Mexico for boys like you.”

Notice that Ennis is still separating himself from the thought that he is gay, even though he’s implying that Jack is gay. Later, Ennis blames Jack for being the way he is (in other words for loving a man). Denial is a powerful thing.

One more example to help express my point …..

A person might have grown up being thin. Then s/he discovers chocolate and starts to eat it and eat it and eat it. This person gains an enormous amount of weight. The scale indicates the person is overweight. The mirror shows the person is overweight. However, the individual cannot admit that he/she is overweight. S/he still believes him/herself to be thin. The reality is s/he is not. That doesn’t change the individual’s perception.

That is how I see Ennis ... he looks at himself as a man who happens to love another man. It is something he does not completely understand. We see Ennis as gay. Another person looking in might say he is gay. That does't mean he sees himself as gay.
Diane

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Offline welliwont

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Not everyone agrees with me on this ... so I am going to try and explain this in another way …..

There is a "phenomenon" in the US with African-American men. It is called being on the “down low”. To make a long story short, these are two men getting together to have sex. Neither one sees themselves as gay. But they are having sex with another man. There are no emotional ties. It is strictly sex. The other piece of this whole “down low” thing, is that neither one of the men can be “gay”. Now how bizarre is that?  To you and me, we would say … “these guys are gay”.

Now plug Ennis into this same line of thinking …. Ennis did not see himself as gay. Jack (initially) did not see himself as gay … (it is unclear to me if Jack ever considered himself gay. However, he was much more in touch with his sexual needs being fulfilled by a man). Yes, they had sex together. But for Ennis, it is only Jack. He is not attracted to any other man. He has no desire to be with another man. Think of the line Ennis says to Jack when they talk about Mexico:

“Well, you been to Mexico, Jack? Huh? ‘Cause I hear what they got in Mexico for boys like you.”

Notice that Ennis is still separating himself from the thought that he is gay, even though he’s implying that Jack is gay. Later, Ennis blames Jack for being the way he is (in other words for loving a man). Denial is a powerful thing.

One more example to help express my point …..

A person might have grown up being thin. Then s/he discovers chocolate and starts to eat it and eat it and eat it. This person gains an enormous amount of weight. The scale indicates the person is overweight. The mirror shows the person is overweight. However, the individual cannot admit that he/she is overweight. S/he still believes him/herself to be thin. The reality is s/he is not. That doesn’t change the individual’s perception.

That is how I see Ennis ... he looks at himself as a man who happens to love another man. It is something he does not completely understand. We see Ennis as gay. Another person looking in might say he is gay. That does't mean he sees himself as gay.

Well Diane, I am mightily impressed!! :)  Are you a courtroom attorney or sumpin'?  Your closing arguments have swayed me completely.  I stlll believe my mathematical equation, but I accept your explanations too...

Score one for the defense attorney!   ;D

J
Then the clouds opened up and God said, "I hate you, Alfafa."

Offline dly64

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Well Diane, I am mightily impressed!! :)  Are you a courtroom attorney or sumpin'?  Your closing arguments have swayed me completely.  I stlll believe my mathematical equation, but I accept your explanations too...

Score one for the defense attorney!   ;DJ

Well - I may have swayed you (which I'm glad if I did), but I am sure there are plenty of others who'll say, "Huh?? What in the hell are you talking about?" Oh well! C'est la vie!

Nope - not an att'y. Just an MBA working in marketing and sales for an insurance company. I guess that does take a level of persuasion. I have to convince companies they need to get their health insurance from me!!  8)

Diane

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ruthlesslyunsentimental

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the arguements, explanation, deep analysis and interpretations in this thread are simply awsome.

Hi!  I'm the original poster.  Thanks for the nice things you said about this thread.  I sure know how to attract 'em, don't I.  You know why?  It's because I know how to cook the beans just right... I add just a little bit of "Old Rose" whiskey!   :laugh:


I really am glad to have anyone and everyone join in the discussion, but, as always, I'll put my two cents in.


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I cannot argue points as eloquently as y'all, but I am reading this thread, and I would just like to point out again (am I going to be banned from here for sounding like a broken record?)  that the following conclusion is not logical IMO:

Ennis knows that being queer is having sex with men + Ennis has sex with Jack ≠ Ennis does not think of himself as queer.

How can he not?  He is sane and rational, is he not?

Sane, yes.  Rational, no.  I still stand by keeping the equal sign in the equation.  I have known men who are just like this.  I knew a man who had sex very frequently with many partners (all male) and he's explained to me that he never thought of himself as gay until he was in his mid-thirties.  He never saw a dead Earl kind of thing, but he said anti-homosexuality was so engrained in him that he just never made the connection.  He also said he thought it would all pass someday.  He doesn't believe this anymore.  And, to the best of my knowledge he's been monogamous for at least the past 15 years, but he himself said he had sex with several hundred different men, all the while not calling himself gay.

The big theme of the film is the destructive effects of rural homophobia.  One of those destructive effects is on Ennis’ psyche and his ability to relate concept with behavior.


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And he did ask Jack at the riverside "Do you ever get the feeling that people know?"  I realize that sometimes people can make excuses for their behavior to the point of believing that it is something other than what it is, (I mean self-delusional) but when it comes to something as concrete as having sex with a man over and over and over for half of one's life, this ain't no little thing that's happenin here.

I believe he's asking Jack whether people know that he's having sex with another man -- not that he's asking Jack whether people think Ennis is queer.  To Ennis, it's completely different.  To Ennis, what Ennis has with Jack is good and comfortable as long as he can differentiate it from "queer" guys who, to Ennis, are bad and deserving of punishment.


Now pull up a chair and have some beans.  Apple pie for dessert.   :laugh:

ruthlesslyunsentimental

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Not everyone agrees with me on this ... so I am going to try and explain this in another way …..

I agree with everything you said in this post (but I didn't "quote" it all just to "save space."  But your examples are absolutely pitch perfect.  Couldn't disagree with a word. 

I'll bet Lureen thought she just kept getting prettier and prettier (like in her youth) as she applied more and more make-up and bleached her hair blonder and blonder.


ruthlesslyunsentimental

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Well Diane, I am mightily impressed!! :)  Are you a courtroom attorney or sumpin'?  Your closing arguments have swayed me completely.  I stlll believe my mathematical equation, but I accept your explanations too...

I'll bet she put something in her beans...   :laugh:  Works every time!

ruthlesslyunsentimental

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This is getting to be a strange thread. Instead of everybody debating in multiple directions, most of the posts seem to be one-on-one debates with Ruthlessly. But -- what can I say? -- here I go doing the same.

As I said, it's what I put in the beans!   :laugh:


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But I'm not discounting Ennis' internalized homophobia in shaping his reaction. I'm sure, in fact, that's a factor. But I prefer to be inclusive. To me, boiling it down to JUST homophobia seems to remove Ennis from the real world. Instead of experiencing a hodge-podge of real-world feelings, a mix of emotional conflicts -- homophobia, sure, but also, and perhaps primarily, jealousy because the man he has loved for 20 years is seeing other men -- he becomes a pawn in a literary scheme rather than a three-dimensional real-life living human being (which he is, isn't he? ISN''T HE??!?).  ???

Of course he's real-world.  That's what makes him so precious.   ;D

Many factors, no doubt.  But I still stick #1 with homophobia.  With Ennis, it's always back to his fears.


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This is what I mean. Is he Ennis, or is he Moby? Does he react like anybody might, upon hearing of their loved one's unfaithfulness, or does he react like a literary character fulfilling his thematic duty?

Wellllllll, he is in the film to show us something...


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I think I agree with everything here. Ennis definitely does have fears about living with Jack. They're just not his only motivation in the lakeside argument. He's not having sex with Cassie simply because Jack won't mind. It's because, yes, he doesn't want to have people know he's gay AND he doesn't think Jack would mind (personally, I think Jack minds more than Ennis realizes, but ...).

Spot on!


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Does yours have "Melissa"? I am disappointed that the regular soundtrack doesn't include it, the song Ennis and Cassie dance to on their date with Alma Jr. I miss that one especially, because Ennis himself picked it from the jukebox, and it seems to unconsciously reflect his feelings about Jack and Cassie ("knowing many, loving none; sharing sorrows, having fun -- but back home he'll always run ..."). Of all the pre-existing songs in the movie, that has always been my favorite (in the context of the movie, anyway).

Yes!  And I had never heard it before I first heard it on the "voters'" track... now, it's one of my favorites!  Also, the mountain song -- I can’t think of the name right off hand -- that we hear in the bus depot.  How appropriate is that one?!  WoW!

Offline ednbarby

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I'd just like to take my dead horse beater out once again and chime in that I agree that while Ennis clearly is gay, he does not see himself as gay.  I think that when he says, "Do you ever see someone looking at you and wonder if he knows?..." what he's talking about "knowing" about is not being a homosexual, but being a man who has sex with another man.  Yes, those two things are one and the same to all of us.  But not to him.  And as it's been mentioned before, Diana Ossana believes that most likely, after Jack's death, Ennis would likely become even more homophobic and self-loathing.  Tied up in his grief and guilt over Jack's death and the fact that it could have been avoided if he had done some things differently is his engrained shame, still, that he was in love and had sex regularly with another man.  And I think tied up in that, too, would be a loyalty to Jack and his memory that would never be broken.  I have trouble imagining Ennis ever being attracted to another man again because of all that.  It just doesn't seem true to his character.

No more beans!