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Brokeback Mountain - Annie Proulx

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Introduction

Choose a novel or short story which deals with true love, unrequited love or love betrayed. Discuss the writer's exploration of the theme and show to what extent it conveys a powerful message about the nature of love. 806 words Annie Proulx's "Brokeback Mountain" is a short story that deals with the theme of unrequited love. The story tells of a love affair spanning two decades between two men whose relationship begins as young, aimless, hired sheep herders on the symbolic "Brokeback" in rural Wyoming. The homosexual relationship is juxtaposed against an unforgiving life and landscape that perpetuates 'traditional' American mid-western values and as such, we understand our protagonists' relationship is doomed from the beginning. Proulx use of non-linear narrative establishes this mood of loss and unrequited love in the story's opening when we are told of Ennis Del Mar waking to his humdrum existence in a trailer (belonging to his daughter) ...read more.

Middle

This contrasts sharply with the married life they fall into once the summer on the mountain ends. Ennis's wife, Alma, adds to Ennis's sense of shame with "her misery voice" and her growing resentment over his relationship with Jack and his emotional distance from her and their children. It is this shame that Ennis displayed upon leaving that summer when he told Jack, "I ain't no queer". Their weekend 'fishing' trips to cheap motel stops have the air of temporary respite from this family-man facade. This transient existence is not what Jack wants though and dreams of getting a place together with Ennis who still maintains "He likes it with woman". Further conflict is lent to the relationship when he tells Ennis; "I wish I knew how to quit you" Ennis never reciprocates this emotional commitment and upon the return of one of his postcards to Jack (to arrange another fishing trip) ...read more.

Conclusion

Ennis hangs Jack's shirt that enclosed his own plaid shirt he found at Lightening Flat in Jack's "shallow cavity" of a closet and pins a postcard of Brokeback above it. Finally, Ennis gives his heart to Jack "as he looked at the ensemble through a few stinging tears"; "Jack - I swear" We are left to wonder whether Jack is mourning the fact he didn't tell him whilst alive or is aware that their love can only exist on another plain - on the dream that was Brokeback. Despite the obvious weight of the societal pressures that bear down on Jack & Ennis, "Brokeback Mountain" when stripped down is first and foremost a tragic romance just like "Romeo & Juliet" or "Love Story". It is more so a testament to the time in which we live where this prejudice is recognizable and its impact upon this relationship is as strong as the outside forces in either of the above mentioned. The story serves tells us that true love doesn't necessarily conquer all when it's as strong or as fragile as the people we choose to persecute or tolerate. ...read more.

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