Themes and Meanings

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

“Brokeback Mountain” is not so much a story about homosexuality as it is a love story that happens to involve two males. Conventional stories about sexual relations between men are either about men identified as homosexuals or men, such as prisoners, who have no other available partners. However, “Brokeback Mountain” does not fit either of these categories. Both Ennis and Jack insist that they are not homosexual, and neither of them have sex with other men. Moreover, although they first have sex while alone on the mountain, they continue to have sex over the years even though both get married. The two men seem to genuinely love each other, both craving that time on Brokeback Mountain when their embrace satisfied “some shared and sexless hunger.”

E. Annie Proulx takes a creative chance here because many readers may try to simplify the story by classifying Jack and Ennis as homosexuals, or latent homosexuals or even bisexual—both meaningless terms. However, such an easy classification will not serve here. When Jack and Ennis deny their homosexuality, they mean it. The fact of the matter is that Jack and Ennis love each other—with tenderness, passion, and concern—and people who love each other in this way—regardless of their gender—desire to be physically close.

One of the most poignant and revealing moments in the story occurs in May, 1983, when, out on the range, the two men hold each other, talk about their children, and...

(The entire section is 511 words.)


(Short Stories for Students)


The concept of masculinity in the American West does not include homosexuality. Western legends, in literature...

(The entire section is 631 words.)