32 pages 1 hour read

Annie Proulx

Brokeback Mountain

Fiction | Short Story | Adult | Published in 1997

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Character Analysis

Ennis del Mar

Content Warning: This section references child abuse and anti-gay bias.

Ennis is the protagonist of the story and the character whose thoughts and feelings the omniscient narrator most often explicates. He is described initially as having “ragged hair, […] big nicked hands, […] jeans torn, [and a] button-gaping shirt” (257). Later in his life, the narrator observes that “a benign growth appeared on his eyelid and gave it a drooping appearance, a broken nose healed and crooked” (273). His physical characteristics and behavior show a man defeated early in life; the first paragraph reveals that his older brother and sister raised Ennis in poverty after their parents died in a wreck, “leaving them twenty-four dollars in cash and a two-mortgage ranch” (256). Another early blow prevented Ennis from reaching for a different life. He applied for a hardship license at 14 so he could continue going to school in their beat-up pickup, but the car broke down shortly afterward.

In his relationship with Jack, Ennis is the realist. He understands more clearly than Jack that the world won’t allow them to find happiness together, but he is resigned to his lot in life and tries not to be bitter about it.