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Themes

"Brokeback Mountain" is not a bedtime story for the kiddos. Why? Because sex and sexuality are front and center. Ennis and Jack, who would never in a million years describe themselves as gay (in fact, the word "gay" is never uttered in the story), find themselves embroiled in a sexual affair that spans decades and changes their lives forever. No matter how much they try to stay apart, they always come back to each other, which leaves them grappling with the reality of their sexual orientation, and how it just won't fit in the world they live in.

Questions About Sexuality and Sexual Identity

  1. Why doesn't Ennis develop relationships with other men? Would it make a difference in the story if he did? What about Jack? Why does he, presumably, pursue other men? 
  2. How might Alma have reacted differently to her husband's affair if it had been a woman? Or would she have acted differently at all?
  3. Why don't these two men ever identify as gay? Would you describe them as gay? Why or why not?
  4. What's the relationship between sex and love in this story?

Chew on This

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

Ennis is ambivalent about his sexuality only because he knows it will cause him so much trouble.

Ennis's ambivalence comes because he loves Alma and his daughters as much as he loves Jack.

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