Annie Proulx's tragically carefree, colorful character of Jack Twist in her short story Brokeback Mountain is without a doubt her most interesting, if not most heartbreaking. A bit naïve, almost childish in his unquenchable lust for life, Jack Twist is a down home boy with a burning, taboo passion that prematurely extinguishes his life at just thirty-nine years of age. By far, Jack seems to be the most lost and wandering soul of the story, and yet he certainly knows exactly what he wants. Unfortunately, his undying pursuit of settling into a long-term relationship with his forbidden lover, Ennis Del Mar, is what eventually costs him his life.
Before examining the perpetual game that was the life of Jack Twist, let us first take note of the name Annie Proulx bestowed upon him. Even his name sounds almost like a joke, like something out of a fairytale. The name Jack Twists contrasts blatantly with the hard-edged moniker of the love of his short life, Ennis Del Mar. Pronouncing his fanciful name, one cannot seem to help verging on sounding breathy and wistful. The name Jack Twist evokes the earth, the grass, the ground with which Jack was so familiar.
[...] While this is taking place, young Jack notices that his father is uncircumcised. This seems to give him deep-seated feelings of inadequacy that he had been clipped and the old man was (Proulx, p. 25). Perhaps these early experiences explain some of Jack's adult behavior and personality. Even with all his brazen eagerness and misguided ambition, Jack is clearly very submissive in his relationships, though he is far from passive. We see evidence of his submission, both physical and emotional, early on in the romance between Ennis and Jack. [...]
[...] He finds Jack's old shirt in his room “from the Brokeback days” and his mind floods with loving memories. Picking it up, he realizes that his own shirt is hidden away inside Jack's, a shirt he thought he'd lost that apparently Jack had stolen as a keepsake: . the pair like two skins, one inside the other, two in one.” Ennis desperately tries to breathe in the faintest familiar odor of Jack, there was no real scent, only the memory of and Ennis is left with nothing but the memory of his beloved Jack Twist (Proulx, p. [...]
[...] Brokeback Mountain is a place born of Proulx's own imagination, a place that she writes is in Wyoming. We are told in the story that the ranch of John C. Twist, Jack's father, is in Lightning Flat, Wyoming. We can deduce from the story that Jack was raised to be a rugged rancher. His father, John Twist, was outspokenly opposed to Jack's lifestyle. Though he does not go so far in the story as to verbalize his knowledge of his son's secret sexuality, it is implied that he knows when Ennis realizes that Jack's death was not a freak accident and thinks to himself, had been the tire iron” (Proulx, p. [...]
[...] All the characters of Brokeback Mountain are country folk and Jack Twist is no exception. His language is very friendly and folksy, he always refers to Ennis as “friend.” His accent does transform slightly in the story after his marriage to the sweet little Texan Lureen. Proulx writes, little Texas accent flavored his sentences, 'cow' twisted into 'kyow' and 'wife' coming out as The vernacular dialog of Brokeback Mountain sprinkles the story with even more realism and even perhaps a wistful touch of whimsy (Proulx, p. [...]
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