“Tell you what, we could a had a good life together, a fuckin real good life. You wouldn’t do it, Ennis, so what we got now is Brokeback Mountain. Everthing built on that. It’s all we got, boy, fuckin all, so I hope you know that if you don’t never know the rest.”

In this passage, Jack, looking back on what could have been, lashes out at Ennis for not allowing them to build a life together. In his frustration, Brokeback Mountain—the scene of their first tryst and the one-time emblem of their unblemished love—becomes a darker, more ominous symbol: it stands for all the tantalizing memories and pleasure they can never recapture. Jack’s accusation highlights the differences between him and Ennis. Jack has pressured Ennis to settle down with him and give their relationship a more solid ground, regardless of wife and family, but Ennis has been steadfast in his refusals, citing his obligation to family as well as his desire to avoid scrutiny and punishment. By this point in the story, there is a sense of inevitability about their lack of a future together, and Jack knows it. They have only two options: move forward or keep gazing backward at their summer together on the mountain. Jack’s declaration that “what we got now is Brokeback Mountain” underscores the sad fact that the latter option is their fate.