Brokeback Mountain


Annie Proulx

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Themes and Colors
Desire, Repression, and Regret  Theme Icon
Intolerance and Violence Theme Icon
Masculinity and Sexuality  Theme Icon
Home and Belonging Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Brokeback Mountain, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

Desire, Repression, and Regret

In “Brokeback Mountain,” Ennis del Mar and Jack Twist fall in love while working as ranch hands on Brokeback Mountain in Wyoming. At the end of the summer, they part ways and attempt to start separate, conventional (i.e., heterosexual) lives, marrying women and having children. Four years later, when the two men meet again and still want each other more than anything, Jack raises the possibility that they could live together and start a business…

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Intolerance and Violence

Intolerance, and the violence to which it can lead, are constant threats to Jack and Ennis’s relationship. Proulx presents intolerance toward homosexuality as a pervasive characteristic in Jack and Ennis’s society—not something specific to certain people or places. Earl and Jack’s violent deaths, for instance, are attributed not to any one person, but rather to a generalized “them.” Jack and Ennis’s fear of this pervasive violence and intolerance keeps them from being together, and for…

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Masculinity and Sexuality

Jack and Ennis’s homosexuality defies the masculine norms under which they have been raised, leaving them unable to reconcile their understanding of the lives they are supposed to lead as men with the relationships they want to pursue. Proulx explores the intersection of masculinity and homosexuality by illustrating the ways in which society sees any deviation from the very narrow traditional notions of masculinity as unnatural and deserving of punishment. Ultimately, this reveals the…

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Home and Belonging

Jack and Ennis’s difficult childhoods have shaped their adult lives. Because of this, they think often about what home means to them and they search for a new concept of home that is more welcoming than the ones with which they grew up. Ennis seeks a sense of home by denying his desire for Jack and sticking to traditional notions of family and masculinity, while Jack searches for home in Ennis. He frequently asks to…

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