Study Guide

Brokeback Mountain Repression

By Annie Proulx

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When you're gay in Wyoming in the 1960s and 70s, repression is something we imagined you'd have to get used to. In a lot of ways, "Brokeback Mountain" is about the cost of that repression: how it can twist your guts into funny animal shapes, how it can turn a rich fulfilling sex life into a life-threatening secret, and how even the most innocuous comment becomes hateful and sinister under its weight.

Questions About Repression

  1. How much of a role does repression play in keeping Ennis safe? What kind of impact does it have on him? Is there a cost to remaining safe from society's censure?
  2. Is Jack freer than Ennis because he's less repressed? Is he in fact less repressed? Why or why not?
  3. Is society actively trying to repress Ennis and Jack and their feelings for each other? Or is it just a passive fact of life? In other words, who's the antagonist here?

Chew on This

Bottom line? Repression is the only thing that keeps Ennis alive.

If they had chosen to buck society's rules and be together, Ennis would have love, and Jack never would have died.

Brokeback Mountain Repression Study Group

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