How we cite our quotes:
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. (3)
Early on, Proulx suggests that the big bad world doesn't exactly blaze a path to success for Ennis and Jack. From the get-go, they've got a hard-knock life to live, without a lot of opportunities to better their chances.
They believed themselves invisible, not knowing Joe Aguirre had watched them through his 10x42 binoculars for ten minutes one day. (30)
It's hard to make an informed choice when you don't have all the details: in this case, knowledge that your creepy boss is spying on you.
"You and me can't hardly be decent together if what happened back there"—he jerked his head in the direction of the apartment—"grabs on us like that. We do that in the wrong place we'll be dead. There's no reins on this one. It scares the piss out a me." (70)
And there it is. Ennis makes his choices out of fear rather than love, which keeps he and Jack apart, but also might save his life. It's a tough pickle, especially if he's motivated by a terror of getting killed.