Author Topic: Regarding the line "Alma´s mouth twitched"  (Read 7414 times)

Offline Monika

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Regarding the line "Alma´s mouth twitched"
« on: May 17, 2009, 07:22:38 pm »
On the plane back to Sweden I reread BBM and I came to the line (during the reunion scene)
"Two little girls," Ennis said. "Alma Jr. and Francine. Love them to pieces." Alma's mouth twitched.


Does this mean that she thought he was talking BS or that she was pleased? I've always interpreted to mean that she didn't believe him, but when I read it tonight I realised that maybe that's not the way it should be interpreted?
Or is it ambiguous even for native English readers?

Offline mariez

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Re: Regarding the line "Alma´s mouth twitched"
« Reply #1 on: May 17, 2009, 07:51:58 pm »

Does this mean that she thought he was talking BS or that she was pleased?

Oh, that is interestnig, b/c I never interpreted it as meaning either of those things.  I always thought the mouth twitch indicated that Ennis mentions he loves Alma and Francine to pieces  - but doesn't include Alma.  But now that you've brought up those other interpretations, you've made me think.  A twitch can indicate a smile of sorts, I guess - but I didn't get that feeling from the tone of this passage at all, especially considernig that Alma has just witnessed their embrace.  Does she think he's talking BS about loving the girls?  I don't know - I've never really considered that.  AP tells us that Ennis isn't big on endearments but he uses "little darlin" for his daughters, his horses - and Jack, which indicates to me that he is sincere in saying that he loves them to pieces.  A really interesting question.
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Offline Front-Ranger

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Re: Regarding the line "Alma´s mouth twitched"
« Reply #2 on: May 22, 2009, 09:35:13 pm »
I also agree with you that Alma is reacting to Ennis' leaving her out of the love. Her emotions are contradictory to her true feelings, the same as when she says, "Sure enough" to mean "Yeah, right!" There is a deeper meaning though. Ennis' love did break the family into pieces.

Offline Ellemeno

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Re: Regarding the line "Alma´s mouth twitched"
« Reply #3 on: May 23, 2009, 04:52:11 am »
I think it's definitely ambiguous, even to native English speakers.  I don't see anything in the story that would lead Alma to doubt Ennis's love for the girls (other than being unfaithful to their mother, of course), so I tend to interpret it as either disappointment that she is left off the list of who he loves to pieces, or maybe even happiness that he does love them to pieces.  One of my happiest things is when I see how much my husband and other loved ones adore my daughter.

The fact that her mouth twitches, but she doesn't say anything is also what Alma does.  There's an awful lot she never says in their marriage, including something as important as "Stop fucking me in the butt, I don't like it."  She doesn't speak up.

Offline Katie77

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Re: Regarding the line "Alma´s mouth twitched"
« Reply #4 on: May 23, 2009, 05:17:06 am »
I have and still do interpret the "twitch" as a forced smile. I dont think it would have mattered what Ennis had said, she was trying to act like everything was normal, but she had really just had the shock of her life, and in normal circumstances, should would have smiled, at what Ennis said, but because of how she was feeling, she tried to force a smile but it turned into a "twitch".
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Offline Monika

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Re: Regarding the line "Alma´s mouth twitched"
« Reply #5 on: May 23, 2009, 06:52:46 am »
Oh, that is interestnig, b/c I never interpreted it as meaning either of those things.  I always thought the mouth twitch indicated that Ennis mentions he loves Alma and Francine to pieces  - but doesn't include Alma. 
It´s weird, I´ve never even thought about it that way but it does make a lot of sense. Don´t know why I´ve never read it like that. But I love the fact that Annie leaves so much up to ourselves to decide.


Have I mentioned how much I love this story!!?? :) ;)

Offline Monika

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Re: Regarding the line "Alma´s mouth twitched"
« Reply #6 on: May 23, 2009, 06:58:21 am »
I don't see anything in the story that would lead Alma to doubt Ennis's love for the girls (other than being unfaithful to their mother, of course)
Sometimes I get the impression that Alma doesn´t think that anyone who does what Ennis does (having sex with other men), has the capacity to feel real love. I don´t have much to back it up with though, but it´s something I´ve often thought about.

Offline LauraGigs

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Re: Regarding the line "Alma´s mouth twitched"
« Reply #7 on: May 23, 2009, 03:06:09 pm »
When I'm really furious, really embarrassed, really frustrated, or some combination thereof, my mouth twitches.  An involuntary thing.  I saw my best friend's mouth twitch when she was really mad, too.

But yeah... at that moment Alma can't find a way to articulate her confusion and rage, so all that comes out is a "twitch".  Between that and the boys being caught up in their emotion and lust, all three are pretty much slaves to larger impulses.

And the lightning storm is starting up.  Hmmmm....

Offline ohiomyown

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Re: Regarding the line "Alma´s mouth twitched"
« Reply #8 on: May 26, 2009, 08:00:44 pm »
This is an interesting question, with many differing ideas of what that twitch meant.

It's my belief that Alma was in shock, not rage.  She had not processed what she had just seen. . . but
when Ennis said "two little girls.  I love them to pieces."   . . she heard loud and clear that he didn't
include her on that list.

She could have emptied a bowl of jello salad on her head and danced an Irish Jig - -  those two guys
only had eyes for each other at that point. . .  they were not even seeing her.

Offline Brown Eyes

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Re: Regarding the line "Alma´s mouth twitched"
« Reply #9 on: December 04, 2009, 12:56:45 pm »
Somehow I missed this interesting thread until now.

I love all the possible readings of what the twitch might mean.  I tend to lean towards it being a sign of anger (fairly complex anger) and also, I lean towards her realizing that she is left out of the love Ennis feels for the kids.

The idea of the twitiching mouth so reminds me of Ennis himself.  It makes me think of all the subtle ways that Heath depicted Ennis forcing a smile to form on his face, or Ennis twitiching in anger/frustration in his own ways throughout the narrative.

Twitching just seems to be such an Ennis thing (to me it implies a lot physical expression of repression... repression in a very broad sense).  It's interesting to think about the word applied to Alma and what it means in her case.

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Offline Jeff Wrangler

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Re: Regarding the line "Alma´s mouth twitched"
« Reply #10 on: December 04, 2009, 02:39:53 pm »
Perhaps the twitch is a nervous reflex, a response to Ennis using the word love after what Alma has just seen on the landing.
"It is required of every man that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellow-men, and travel far and wide."--Charles Dickens.

Offline Brown Eyes

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Re: Regarding the line "Alma´s mouth twitched"
« Reply #11 on: December 04, 2009, 02:57:46 pm »
Now I feel like looking at the movie again to see how Michelle dealt with this description... or how/if it was translated somehow into the film.  It's amazing... this is a detail I've never thought about before even after all these years.

the world was asleep to our latent fuss - bowie

Offline southendmd

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Re: Regarding the line "Alma´s mouth twitched"
« Reply #12 on: January 04, 2012, 01:43:24 pm »
Here's a fun thread I never saw before.

I agree that a twitch implies something reflexive, involuntary.  I suppose it could mean any of the things mentioned above, but I'd vote for shock. 

Another great example of Annie's use of ambiguous phrases that makes the reader do the work.

Regarding Ennis's feelings towards his daughters, there is one harsh line that occurs later, after the Thanksgiving debacle:

He didn't try to see his girls for a long time, figuring they would look him up when they got the sense and years to move out from Alma.

Offline Sason

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Re: Regarding the line "Alma´s mouth twitched"
« Reply #13 on: January 04, 2012, 02:07:25 pm »
I've always found that line disturbing. To me it implies that Ennis is incapable of recognizing his daughters' need for him, despite his own negative feelings for Alma.

The very first time I saw the movie, the single line that got to me the most was the forlorn sounding and unanswered "Bye daddy! Bye!" when he storms out of Alma's house.

I think it conveys AP's line very well.

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Offline RouxB

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Re: Regarding the line "Alma´s mouth twitched"
« Reply #14 on: January 04, 2012, 04:35:14 pm »
I see the twitch as a forced smile-a nervous reaction. Despite what she has just seen, she is still trying to maintain some semblance of manners for company. Her husband says something any mother would find endearing and the natural response would be to smile. But when said husband has just been caught kissing the hell out of a man, well...

 O0

Heathen

Offline southendmd

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Re: Regarding the line "Alma´s mouth twitched"
« Reply #15 on: May 23, 2013, 10:37:23 am »
*twitch*bump*

Offline CellarDweller

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Re: Regarding the line "Alma´s mouth twitched"
« Reply #16 on: June 09, 2013, 09:18:39 pm »
I wonder if it could be that she's wondering if Ennis really does love the girls.  At any point in the story does he truly acknowledge love for Alma?

I'm sure that it's not rage she's feeling after what she sees, but rather shock.  However, for her to witness Ennis cheating, and then have him come into the apartment and mention the word "love" had to piss her off.


Tell him when l come up to him and ask to play the record, l'm gonna say: ''Voulez-vous jouer ce disque?''
'Voulez-vous, will you kiss my dick?'
Will you play my record? One-track mind!

Offline Brown Eyes

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Re: Regarding the line "Alma´s mouth twitched"
« Reply #17 on: June 09, 2013, 10:52:45 pm »
I love the incredible minutiae of Brokie discussions sometimes.  It's fun to read things I wrote here several years ago at this point!  I feel like reiterating something I wrote way back in 2009...  I feel like a twitiching mouth is such an Ennis form of expression or repression.  It's an odd moment to notice a similarity between Ennis and Alma.

I think that simple little phrase 'Alma's mouth twitched' implies a world of bottled up emotions.  I think shock is probably the primary thing in this instance, but it probably also involves a bit of everything that people have mentioned in this thread.
the world was asleep to our latent fuss - bowie