32 pages 1 hour read

Annie Proulx

Brokeback Mountain

Fiction | Short Story | Adult | Published in 1997

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Important Quotes

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Content Warning: This section mentions anti-gay prejudice.

“Ennis del Mar wakes before five, wind rocking the trailer, hissing in around the aluminum door and window frames. The shirts hanging on a nail shudder slightly in the draft.”

(Page 255)

The prologue’s opening lines convey the harsh environment in which Ennis lives, and the diction—rocking, hissing, shudder—carry the weight of the story to come. His waking before five also implies a hard, working-class life. The apparently insignificant detail of the shirts foreshadows the story’s conclusion; the shirts are Ennis’s and Jack’s and, like the characters themselves, are at the mercy of their environment. The overall mood is one of Powerlessness and Loss of Hope.

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“Ennis, reared by his older brother and sister after their parents drove off the only curve on Dead Horse Road, leaving them twenty-four dollars in cash and a two-mortgage ranch, applied at age fourteen for a hardship license that let him make the hour-long trip from the ranch to the high school. The pickup was old, no heater, one windshield wiper, and bad tires; when the transmission went, there was no money to fix it. He had wanted to be a sophomore, felt the word carried a kind of distinction, but the truck broke down short of it, pitching him directly into ranch work.”

(Page 256)

This passage describes Ennis’s childhood circumstances and is the first example of how the world seems to conspire against him (and Jack). He takes the necessary action to complete school by obtaining a hardship license, but then his only means of getting to school fails him, establishing The Inescapable Effects and Momentum of Poverty. This foreshadows the hard life that he faces and reflects Proulx’s use of naturalism.

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“He didn’t ask if Ennis had a watch but took a cheap round ticker on a braided cord from a box on a high shelf, wound and set it, tossed it to him as if he weren’t worth the reach. ‘Tomorrow mornin we’ll truck you up the jump-off.’ Pair of deuces going nowhere.”

(Page 257)

Joe Aguirre, the foreman of the operation Jack and Ennis work for on Brokeback Mountain, treats Ennis disrespectfully and assumes he’s impoverished. Aguirre’s character symbolizes how the world sees and treats Jack and Ennis, even before he learns of their relationship.