You often think of the cowboy as a lone figure, just a man and his horse out on the wide open range. But eventually, a cowboy finds a cowgirl and they settle down and have little cowkids. Maybe even an actual cow on a farm of their own.
Normally, starting a family is a happy event. But in Brokeback Mountain it almost feels like a punishment. Jack and Ennis can't start a family together, so they start families with the women in their lives. Sometimes it's stifling. For them, having a family is like being hogtied. Cowboys are men who love freedom, and they'd rather do the roping instead of being roped.
Questions About Family
How would you describe Ennis as a father? How would you describe Jack as a father?
Why does Alma remarry while Ennis remains single?
What will Ennis's relationship with Alma Jr. be like after the end of the movie?
What do we know about Ennis and Jack's childhoods? How does their family life as children influence their personalities as adults?
Chew on This
Ennis goes through various stages with his family. At first, he loves them. Later, he feels stuck with them (because he'd rather be with Jack). After Jack's death, Ennis re-accepts his family and tries to become a part of them again.
For Jack, his family is always secondary. He's a warmer husband and father than Ennis ever was, but he would abandon his family at a moment's notice to be with Ennis.