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[1] Brokeback Mountain: the Novel – Annie Proulx

I have read this novel at least 5 times. Each reading affords different nuances and nudges to a new direction of emtoional terrain.

Annie Proulx demonstrates her shrewd skills in understanding people – seeing through their minds and their unspeakable struggles. Brokeback Mountain is probably one of her most brow-raising short stories in contemporary literature. The inventiveness of the story, the daring negotiation of a provocative topic that the old West does not readily approve, constitute the emotional weight of Brokeback Mountain. Her prose is biting and invigorating, constantly exuding a robustness that bespeaks a strong feeling for not only the expansive landscape but also the brutality of her characters’ uphill struggles.

Brokeback Mountainis a short story, with just 55 pages; it is a significant contribution to the rare collection of literature concerning homosexual cowboys. The story begins with two high-school dropouts, Ennis del Mar and Jack Twist, who work as camp hands one summer and cross their paths when they take the job of a sheep herder and camp tender on a remote range above the tree line. They are typical cowpokes who happen to be stuck in the sole company of one another. They are rough mannered, rough-spoken, and contently inured to the stoic life. Their initial interaction is no more than the usual casual friendship: they respect each other’s opinion, roll a smoke, and hymn a few cowboy tunes and pitch separate tents.

At first the attraction is casual and hidden, but inevitable. The unbearable weather and the rut duties somehow set their mutual passion afire. Tacitly the two cowboys share a relationship in which the physicality and intimacy have violated the boundary of friendship. While one can see Ennis’s and Jack’s feelings for each other through the sheepherding, the desire has made them become one through physicality. Four long years elapse before their reunion as married men with kids after the sentimental parting at Brokeback Mountain. This bittersweet reunion at the knowledge of each other’s marriage is no more unbearable than the separation solidified in their memory. Reunion proves that over the course of the years this relationship has become the most important and passionate thing in their lives.

Brokeback Mountain is a stand-out story because after their parting at Brokeback Mountain neither of the men have had sexual relations with another man. They seem to have back away from the physicality and leave the relationship unresolved. But the relationship and intimacy they have shared, the sporadic exploration of carnal desire constitute true love. As a result, BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN is the sad chronology of a love affair between two men who can never afford to call it a love affair. They are both savvy of the world’s violence and its intolerance of the dangerous affair.

The novel is most remarkable in Proulx’s profound understanding of her characters, with whom she does not immediately associate and relate. In the realm of imagination she has created something very real and original.

2 Responses

  1. […] Brokeback Mountain, Lust . Caution is a 28-pages short story 0f the same title that was originally published in a […]

  2. […] Horizon, James Hilton), Margarita (The Master and Margarita, Mikhail Bulgakov), and Ennis del Mar (Brokeback Mountain, Annie Proulx) and see if we can find Shangri-La, utopia the land of happiness. Maybe they can all […]

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