Author Topic: "Jack, I swear..." What do you think Ennis meant by that?  (Read 211832 times)

moremojo

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Re: "Jack, I swear..." What do you think Ennis meant by that?
« Reply #170 on: February 14, 2007, 07:44:06 pm »
Back to the "...I swear..." subject; this goes full circle. Ennis in ONLY TWO WORDS spoke a lifetime of love and commitment. Jack would never have heard this or felt it, which is not to demean wonderful Jack...he just needed alot of overt attention and he admitted this.
Nicely put. I feel that we see Ennis's entire life story writ on his face at this closing moment; it's harrowing and beautiful all at once.

Going back to Proulx's original story, Ennis's all-important affirmation is followed by the authorial (and I'm paraphrasing from memory) "though Jack had never asked him to swear anything, and was not himself the swearing kind." It's a cryptic phrase, and makes the pain of the moment all the more heart-rending. Jack is gone, but he very much lives on in Ennis's heart and dreams (Ennis literally begins to see him in his dreams at this point in the tale), and Ennis feels the need to affirm, however haltingly, what Jack and Brokeback meant and continue to mean to him. Jack's own affirmation remained silent and private (the hidden intertwined shirts).

Offline HerrKaiser

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Re: "Jack, I swear..." What do you think Ennis meant by that?
« Reply #171 on: February 14, 2007, 08:51:33 pm »
Nicely put. I feel that we see Ennis's entire life story writ on his face at this closing moment; it's harrowing and beautiful all at once.

Going back to Proulx's original story, Ennis's all-important affirmation is followed by the authorial (and I'm paraphrasing from memory) "though Jack had never asked him to swear anything, and was not himself the swearing kind." It's a cryptic phrase, and makes the pain of the moment all the more heart-rending. Jack is gone, but he very much lives on in Ennis's heart and dreams (Ennis literally begins to see him in his dreams at this point in the tale), and Ennis feels the need to affirm, however haltingly, what Jack and Brokeback meant and continue to mean to him. Jack's own affirmation remained silent and private (the hidden intertwined shirts).

Thanks for this insight, and isn't this the irony? Jack wasn't the swearing kind, yet it was he who was so vocal about attention. In death, Jack was not 'nagging' about what he did not have; rather, the "silent and private" Jack was now exactly parallel to what Ennis is in life, and Ennis promises to remain alligiant to this newly crystalized love.

Offline Rayn

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Re: "Jack, I swear..." What do you think Ennis meant by that?
« Reply #172 on: February 15, 2007, 12:54:55 am »
I think Jack very clearly would have left Lureen if he had a guarantee that Ennis would be there to pick up the pieces, and we have evidence in two scenes: at the campfire, post-reunion, when Jack states with aplomb that they could start up the "sweet life" with money that L.D. would likely give Jack for divorcing his daughter, and post-divorce, when Jack redlines it to Riverton with only Ennis's terse postcard to fuel his happiness that their moment has arrived.


I agree with moremojo all the way.... There is also the fact that when Jack read about Ennis and Alma's divorce in the newspaper, he hauled ass to Ennis thinking this "was it".... He and Ennis could be together at last.   How sad that he misunderstood that situation. 

And HerrKaiser's point about the TWO WORDS, "I swear" is good too, but there are two other words that could be remembered when considering why Ennis never remarried.  When Alma speaks of her concerned that Ennis hasn't remarried, Ennis' answer is very clear, "ONCE BURNED..." 

 I see Ennis as a very sensitive man, quiet, but very deep and the pain of his childhood, the loss of his folks, the very hard life he had was a whole lot for anyone to handle. 

I think Ennis never remarried because although he didn't express it verbally he clearly loved Jack and couldn't take on any more emotional involvement.  He did afterall, have the open offer from the waitress that he dated for a while.... (I can't recall her name).  She wanted to marry him.

No, Ennis just felt he couldn't take anymore pain caused by getting involved with another lover in his life. As far as solid and deeply emotional relationships, Jack, in the end, was all he really had and all he could handle, which make the loss of Jack even sadder for him.

Rayn

Offline serious crayons

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Re: "Jack, I swear..." What do you think Ennis meant by that?
« Reply #173 on: February 16, 2007, 12:46:56 pm »
In my opinion I really believe that Jack was asking Ennis if he would get married again because like he did a lot he was pushing Ennis to say what he couldn't say.

Just like when Ennis said ' I'm sending a prayer of thanks' and Jack asked 'for what?'.  Wasn't it obvious what the prayer of thanks was for?

But to me Jack had to push Ennis, but Ennis said as much as he was able to.

This is my take on it, too. Jack was baiting Ennis, trying to get Ennis to admit WHY he hadn't got married again. Ennis couldn't say it outright. On the other hand, his indifferent and lackluster description of his relationship with Cassie speaks volumes. Again, Jack should have been able to read between the lines.

Quote
As to 'I swear', you know that is one of the few lines that I have still not really be able to put any meanings to.  I have many ideas but actually, I dunno, this one is still a mystery to me in many ways.

I think it obviously could mean a whole lot of things depending on one's own interpretion.

I think it not only could mean a whole lot of things, I think it actually DOES mean a whole lot of things, all at once!
 

Offline Brown Eyes

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Re: "Jack, I swear..." What do you think Ennis meant by that?
« Reply #174 on: February 16, 2007, 11:34:41 pm »
I think it not only could mean a whole lot of things, I think it actually DOES mean a whole lot of things, all at once!

Well, you know I agree with this.  And I think that this is the part that is intended for each audience member to "finish the story" in his or her own way (based on whatever personal inclinations might lead to a particular interpretation and/ or based on all the conclusions the audience member has come to after watching the movie and trying to navigate all the other ambiguous moments throughout the film).  I also think this is a way of conveying the idea of the "open space" in what Ennis knows and tries to believe.  Annie, I think uses the "I swear..." line in the story to reinforce that great line about the "open space".  In the film (and probably the story too) if a person is inclined to be a romantic/ to be optimistic, etc. they might fill in Ennis's sentence in a very different way than if they have a negative view of how the relationship developed over the 20 yrs. 

Essentially, I think it's intentional that there is no right or wrong answer to how Ennis completes his sentence.  And there's even the option that there is no thought after "I swear..."  Maybe that's just all there is... Maybe that is the complete thought (even though it doesn't sound like it's a complete thought).  The possibilities are flexible and very numerous (though probably not infinite if one wants to remain within the bounds of likelihood and probability given what we know about film-Ennis, etc.). 


The more I think about it, the more it seems that this final sentence and the flashback absolutely define the film.  Can you imagine how different this movie would seem without either one of those elements?
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Offline Cameron

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Re: "Jack, I swear..." What do you think Ennis meant by that?
« Reply #175 on: February 17, 2007, 12:30:22 am »
Hi,

Amanda, I think that you are so right, you made me finally realize something.  The way I have been thinking about BBM is that each line and each scene has an intentional deeper meaning, something that AP and also the screenwriters and even Heath and Jake had in their interpretations. I have been thinking that the real meaning can only be figured out once you understand the whole story and the symbolism and everything else.  The real meaning is most often different than what the line or the scene really suggests on the surface.  To me there is one story on the surface and with literal interpretations, and a whole other story when every thing is analyzed and put all together.

For example I agree with you totally about the dozy embrace.  I have still been watching parts every single day, and the past few days I have been focussing on it.  I do agree that the dozy embrace is perhaps the key to everything.  On the surface it does appear to just be about Jack remembering a more pleasant memory.  But now its importance has grown.  There is so little really between TS 2 and the trip down the mountain, and aside from the reunion so little contact and affection the whole time.  But the dozy embrace, that was what it was really like, that was how much Ennis felt at the end of the summer, that was what they both really lived for for the next twenty years, and that only scratches the surface of the DE.

But anyway, I haven't thought as much about 'I swear' as so many other lines, but I realize and believe that unlike so much else, there is not one true meaning to be discovered.  It was intentionally meant as the mirror for us to look at and reflect back on ourselves and intentally left as the place to say, this is what I believe it all means.

If this all makes any sense at all.



moremojo

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Re: "Jack, I swear..." What do you think Ennis meant by that?
« Reply #176 on: February 17, 2007, 01:31:40 pm »
The more I think about it, the more it seems that this final sentence and the flashback absolutely define the film.
The flashback was a pivotal moment for me on my first viewing; this was the moment when I realized that Jack and Ennis had fallen in love on the mountain, during that summer of 1963 (the love was apparent before this point in the film, but I wasn't sure when, in their chronology, it happened--until this moment). The dozy embrace colors how we see everything the film has presented to us before this point; it's a masterful stroke.

The film's closing scene is the absolute key to the whole work. Everything else has been leading up to this point. Ennis has made a momentous journey of the heart and the spirit, and we've gone along with him. And the ending is open-ended--is Ennis going through the motions, living only in memory and waiting to die (a pessimistic interpretation), or is his journey continuing, his heart open to new possibilities (as his decision to attend Junior's wedding might suggest)? We are compelled to become active agents in the creative process here, and must 'finish the story' for Ennis and for ourselves.

Offline HerrKaiser

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Re: "Jack, I swear..." What do you think Ennis meant by that?
« Reply #177 on: February 17, 2007, 02:10:25 pm »
Jack was baiting Ennis, trying to get Ennis to admit WHY he hadn't got married again.
 


If this is true, Jack is being disingenuous and lying again; being manipulative. He is not being direct and honest with the man he purports to be in love with for 20 years. Poor Jack had felt the need to lie several times and as such I think his character evolves in stark contrast to the goodness, purity, and honesty of Ennis.

...which makes Ennis' "I swear" life commitment even more deep, sincere, loving, and true.

Offline lachlan

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Re: "Jack, I swear..." What do you think Ennis meant by that?
« Reply #178 on: February 19, 2007, 12:34:28 pm »
I had a notion that Ennis doesn't finish his statement, "Jack, I swear... " because what he is doing at that moment is a small, undeveloped ritual at what is, in effect, a shrine. He probably visits this shrine repeatedly and often speaks to Jack's spirit. But his character is still embarassed by his own thoughts, desires and actions. Therefore, he stops himself before he goes too far. This is consistent with all we have seen of him; frightened to commit himself even in secret. He shuts the door of his closet after this unfinished line, but I reckon he will open it again after sundown; he will fondle the shirts again for a moment, look at the postcard and say something like, "You know, Jack....  I, uh.... " and then he'll shut it again and go to bed. Next morning, he'll open it again and....

I learned long ago that bears - and other social animals such as elephants - perform a ritual around the body of one of their own dead. If they cannot do this, on account of the body being taken away by a hunter, for example, they tend to brood for years after; revisiting the site and trying to come to terms with the disappearance. Ennis missed Jack's funeral. He was denied the opportunity to take the ashes to BBM. Therefore he will continue to repeat this uncomplete "swearing" for as long as he draws breath.
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Offline Front-Ranger

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Re: "Jack, I swear..." What do you think Ennis meant by that?
« Reply #179 on: February 19, 2007, 01:30:17 pm »
You have much insight, thank you for sharing it with us.
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