Jack Twist is the more verbally aggressive and outgoing of the story’s two main characters. His name is onomatopoetic in its quick, light-footed sound, the clarity of its consonants strikingly dissimilar to the marbles-in-mouth quality of “Ennis Del Mar.” Jack Twist is flashy and brazen, a would-be rodeo star, and later a glitzy Texan transplant who sports a brass belt buckle and large capped teeth. He is far less able and willing than Ennis to subjugate his sexual impulses to the demands of conservative married life. The initial tryst on Brokeback is Ennis’s first sexual encounter with a man; but of Jack we may suspect that he is somewhat more experienced. And whereas Ennis muffles his sexual desire, Jack projects his desire for Ennis onto other men and women.

Ennis and Jack are complementary: Ennis the taciturn loner, Jack the performer who needs an audience; Ennis the hand-to-mouth earner, Jack the man who has married into money; Ennis the stoic who grits his teeth and bears his life, Jack the proponent of change. Yet for all his bravado and planning, Jack never seems to get what he wants. His father shrugs that most of his son’s ideas “never come to pass,” and Jack himself says, “Nothin never come to my hand the right way.” When he tells Ennis his plan for them to run a ranch together, it doesn’t occur to him how detached from reality his fantasy truly is, how impossible or ill-advised it would be to implement it. This divide between fantasy and reality drives the two men apart over the years, and Jack ultimately pays a steep price for his dreams.