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I wish I could quit you!
~ Jack's most famous line, and the most famous line in the film

Jack Twist is one of two protagonists in Annie Proulx's novella Brokeback Mountain, as well as the 2005 film adaptation. He is a young cowboy from Wyoming who falls in love with fellow ranch hand Ennis Del Mar while herding sheep with him for a summer. Over the next 20 years, they have a secret affair consisting of short, infrequent trips to Brokeback Mountain, where they first met.

In the film, Jack was portrayed by Jake Gyllenhaal, who was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance, and who also portrayed the title character in Donnie Darko and Prince Dastan in Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time.

In the story[]

Jack is born in about 1943 or 1944, and grows up in Lightning Flat, in the northeastern corner of Wyoming. At some point, he drops out of high school. While on a 1963 shepherding job on the fictional Brokeback Mountain in Wyoming, rodeo cowboy Jack meets and falls in love with ranch hand Ennis Del Mar.

When the two 19-year-old men first begin work on Brokeback Mountain, Ennis is stationed at the base camp while Jack watches after the sheep higher on the mountain. They initially meet only for meals at the base camp, where they gradually become friends. After a time they switch roles, with Jack taking over duties at base camp and Ennis tending the flock. One night, after the two share a bottle of whiskey, Ennis decides to remain at the base camp overnight instead of returning up the mountain. He shivers noticeably in the cold weather, and Jack suggests he come in the tent to get warm. Ennis is at first reluctant to even sleep in the same tent as Jack, but later that night the men share a brief, intense sexual encounter. Over the remainder of the summer their sexual and emotional relationship deepens further.

After the job is finished the two part ways. Jack tries to get the same job again at Brokeback Mountain, but his former employer, having seen him and Ennis, does not rehire him. Jack then moves to Texas, where he meets and eventually marries rodeo princess Lureen Newsome (portrayed in the film by Anne Hathaway), having a son, Bobby, with her.

Four years after they separate from each other, Jack sends a postcard to Ennis, asking if he wants to meet him while he passes through the area. The men reunite, and their passion immediately rekindles. Jack broaches the subject of creating a life together on a small ranch. Ennis resists, fearing that they will be killed if their relationship is put out in the open. Ennis and Jack settle for infrequent meetings on camping trips in the mountains.

As the years pass, Ennis' marriage eventually ends in divorce, causing Jack to hope that this will allow him and Ennis to live together. But Ennis continues to refuse to move away from his children, and remains uncomfortable about men living together. On another trip with Ennis in the mountains, in 1983, Jack discovers that in order to keep his job, Ennis cannot meet with Jack again before November. Ennis and Jack's frustrations finally erupt into a bitter argument and a struggle that becomes a desperate embrace. The two men part, upset and angry with each other.

Months later, a postcard Ennis sent to Jack about meeting in November, has returned to the post office, stamped deceased. In a strained telephone conversation, Lureen tells Ennis that Jack died in an accident while changing a tire; Ennis, however, suspects that he was murdered by men who discovered his secret life. Lureen tells Ennis that Jack wished to have his ashes scattered on Brokeback Mountain, and suggests that he contact Jack's parents.

Ennis visits Jack's parents in Lightning Flat, Wyoming and offers to take Jack's ashes to Brokeback Mountain. Jack's father refuses, insisting that Jack's remains be buried in the family plot. Jack's mother is more welcoming, and allows Ennis to see Jack's boyhood bedroom. While in the room, Ennis discovers two old shirts hidden in the back of the closet. The shirts, hung one inside the other on the same hanger, are the ones the two men were wearing on their last day on Brokeback Mountain in 1963. Ennis takes the now rolled-up shirts with him; Jack's mother silently offers him a paper sack to put them in.

At the end of the story, Ennis opens his own closet to reveal that he has hung the two shirts reversed, with his plaid shirt hugging Jack's blue shirt. They hang inside the door beneath a postcard of Brokeback Mountain. Ennis carefully fastens the top button of Jack's shirt. With tears in his eyes, Ennis mutters, "Jack, I swear ...".