The topic that I want to explore in Annie Proulx’ story ‘Brokeback Mountain’ is confusion surrounding homosexuality. I believe, that the text suggests that in a homophobic culture, people of both sexualities experience unacceptance towards it when it becomes nontraditional. Essentially, some cannot agree with unorthodox sexuality and act on it with aggression and abuse, but the ones who end up abused are just so extraneous to the idea of such a thing being normal that they either do not recognize their own feelings or experience guilt for having them.
On the Brokeback Mountain, during their first romatic encounter, Jack and Ennis discuss their relationship for the first time, ““I’m not no queer,” and Jack jumped in with “Me neither. A one-shot thing. Nobody’s business but ours.””. It is clear that the main characters are just too used to the way their community treats homosexuals, and it is hard for them to overcome this skewed perception that had already been installed in them. Neither of them is ready to accept their affection.
The following dialogue happens when Jack and Ennis say goodbye to each other after their summer on Brokeback Mountain. ““You goin a do this next summer?” said Jack to Ennis in the street, one leg already up in his green pickup. The wind was gusting hard and cold.
“Maybe not.” A dust plume rose and hazed the air with ﬁne grit and he squinted against it. “Like I said, Alma and me’s gettin married in December.” Although it is clear that both of them would love to see each other again, Ennis rejects this idea by reminding Jack of his engagement. However, this is just an excuse, and by bringing up his plans to marry Alma, he is just trying to disown himself from his genuine feelings towards Jack.
After their unavoidable divorce, Alma and Ennis meet again at a dinner, where she explains that she was aware of his affair with Jack. ““Don’t lie, don’t try to fool me, Ennis. I know what it means. Jack Twist? Jack Nasty. You and him — “ She’d overstepped his line. He seized her wrist; tears sprang and rolled, a dish clattered. “Shut up,” he said. “Mind your own business. You don’t know nothin about it.”” The reaction that Ennis has to her mentioning Jack is extremely aggressive and irrational, supporting the idea that his entire sexuality was an upsetting and confusing subject for him. Basically, Ennis reacts as if he is offended to be the person that he truly is.
This confusion that Annie Proulx paints so perfectly in the story is the reason why I enjoyed ‘Brokeback Mountain’ so much. That pain is depicted in such a beautiful melancholic way that not sympathizing with characters becomes an impossible task. More than that, it provides a very important perspective on issues related to homosexuality. It is a double-edged sword. Abuse of homosexual people is merely half of the entire problem. What is much more devastating, is the feeling of being cursed or wrong that a gay person can experience.
Reference: all quotations taken from Annie Proulx, “Brokeback Mountain”, Scribner, 2005.