In my paper, I want to examine the difference between a stereotypical western cowboy and the two main characters Jack Twist and Ennis del Mar of the short story “Brokeback Mountain” by Annie Proulx and its movie adaption by Ang Lee. This paper will analyze how the author, Annie Proulx, defies masculine cowboy norms when writing such an extravagant love story about two cowboys falling in love through an unexpected consultation. Ultimately, this paper will analyze the key differences, both physical, and emotional between the stereotypical western cowboy and the cowboys presented by Annie Proulx, Jack and Ennis. I will use the short story/film “Brokeback Mountain”, and the movie No Country for ...view middle of the document...
The image of a cowboy is pushed by societal norms to be depicted as a masculine icon that is looked highly upon for their immense physical and social traits.
Stoeltje Beverly, the author of Parades and the Hero: The North American Cowboy describes the masculine features of a cowboy as a miraculously changing figure throughout history. She says “the cowboy had been transformed into a romantic, heroic figure, performing on the national stage,” being that this new cowboy was a prominent rodeo figure that everyone went to see for entertainment purposes. Beverly also suggest that there can be various types of cowboys, such as rodeo workers, cattlemen and herders: “During this time, an individual might work as a cowboy for a cattleman who owned a large herd and be paid in kind (with a few cattle), and then develop his own herd, using the land free of charge” (Beverly). Houghton Mifflin argues that the stereotypical cowboy is described as a figure who exemplifies masculine traits:
The men who worked the cattle in the treeless expanses of the West, at least one-fourth of them blacks, became known as cowboys. The image of the courageous, spirited horseman living a dangerous life carried with it an appeal that refuses to disappear. Driving a thousand to two thousand cattle hundreds of miles to market; facing lightning and cloudbursts and drought, stampedes, rattlesnakes, and outlaws; sleeping under the stars and catching chow at the chuckwagon—the cowboys dominated the American galaxy of folk heroes (Houghton Mifflin).
Thus, the cowboy figure can be said to have masculine traits including courage, spirit, romanticism and labor work.
Furthermore, In Masculine Style: The American West And Literary Modernism, Daniel Worden describes a masculine figure as more than being a man. He exaggerates that one does not “possess” masculinity, in the sense of having a penis, a gun, or a rugged leather jacket. Instead being masculine is a lifestyle. He says in his book
One acts masculine, and this acting involves negotiation of a complex set of signs. The often-voiced commands to walk, talk, act, and take it “like a man” make clear that masculinity does not reside in a male body but instead in a series of performative gestures and public presentations. Being “like a man” has little to do with possession and everything to do with performance (Worden 1).
In his book, he also depicts the cowboy as the heroic masculine figure because of their countless performances and the courageous lifestyle they live. The concept of masculinity is also explained in Becoming the New Man in Post-Postmodernist Fiction Becoming the New Man in Post-Postmodernist Fiction when A.S Delfino. Delfino describes the cowboy as a man who paradoxically is tough and competitive at work, though caring and nurturing to his family; a man who is considered a ladies man in society, but late settles down and is faithful to only one woman; a man who is strong and emotionally closed, only opening up to...