“In December Ennis married Alma Beers and had her pregnant by mid-January… Alma Jr., as he called his daughter, was born and their bedroom was full of the smell of old blood and milk and baby shit”.
This quote sums up, for me, the hypocrisy of the story “Brokeback Mountain”. While Annie Proulx seems to want to tell us about how hard life was for gays during that period, she trivialises the suffering that their spouses (in this case Alma) went through.
The dismissive tone that Annie writes about how Ennis got Alma pregnant “by mid-January” made it seem as if this was some obstacle to get over with as soon as possible.
The way Ennis’ daughter’s bedroom is described, “old blood and milk and baby shit” and the words following that, shows the disdain Ennis had for the whole process of procreation, as if to say this was something he “had” to do despite hating everything about it.
Apart from the psychological effects that finding out your spouse is in fact gay, and no, they did not really love you, neither did they want to have a baby with you (which Proulx then brushes off by having Alma marry someone else and maintain her happy-go-lucky attitude), it shows how these women were viewed as “collateral damage”.
If Proulx wanted me to sympathise with these two characters, she should have had them run off together to Mexico, preferably without the involvement of any poor wives or girlfriends. But perhaps that would make for a very boring story.