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Brokeback Mountain

Brokeback Mountain

by Annie Proulx

Men and Masculinity Theme

Ennis and Jack are cowboys in the classic sense: they're lean, tall, and not inclined to say a whole lot. But "Brokeback Mountain" throws a big wrench in that stereotype in that neither one sweeps a local cowgirl off her feet—they sweep each other off their feet, completely. What's key to understand, though, is that their sexual identities don't compromise their manly-man tendencies—they're still a ranch hand and a rodeo rider through and through. Rather their sexuality complicates their manliness, helping to poke a hole in the cowboy stereotype we've all come to know.

Questions About Men and Masculinity

  • How much does Jack and Ennis's masculinity hide their sexuality and how much does it draw attention to their sexuality?
  • What does the characters' assertion of their masculinity say about the world they live in and the dangers they face?
  • Is Ennis's silence indicative of his masculinity in the story? Why or why not?
  • How do both men's fathers impart masculinity to their sons? Why does it leave them so scarred?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Ennis's masculinity demands his silence, which is why he can't express himself the way he should.

Ennis's silence is just who he is; masculinity doesn't enter into it.

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