5 responses

  1. Ben in Oakland
    October 21, 2013

    “It [the evidence] also proved the fatal and depraved purposes for which he associated himself with a private soldier, wholly beneath him in rank and station, as the unworthy and vicious partner of his depravity and guilt.”

    As with Oscar Wilde, Ralph Rackstraw, Sir Joseph Porter KCB, and the Captain of the Pinafore and his daughter and poor little Buttercup, a good50% of the offense was going outside of English class lines.

  2. Bruce Garrett
    October 21, 2013

    I bought a copy of “The Cowboys” after seeing the movie in 1972. I’d only recently come out to myself and the “homoerotic” undertones in the book, more specifically the relationship between Slim and Charlie and the impact of Cimarron intruding into it fairly leaped out at me, and I wondered how they’d ever got that book sold as a John Wayne movie. I thought, how can they not see what’s going on here. Of course they scrubbed all that out of the movie, but this one passage in the book especially struck me as glaringly obvious…

    Wil began to fret when Cimarron didn’t show up. It just about had to mean the beautiful little bastard had got himself into some sort of trouble down to the south. The Old Woman said, “No, maybe he just got himself loose in the foots and free in the fancy. Cimarron ain’t no fireside boy, you know. He don’t belong to nothing and nobody except himself. Could be he just cut his pocket pin and drifted.”

    Everybody was looking at him. Wil felt tired and mean. He turned to young Charlie Schwartz and asked, “You’re his bunkie. You think that’s what he did?”

    Young Charlie looked at the ground in what would have been blushing confusion if he hadn’t been so tanned. Then he looked up and set Wil Andersen back on his heels. “It takes more then sleeping with a man to know what’s on his mind.”

    Wil looked at the ground. The Old Woman was smiling, but it was a good point. Wil almost liked the boy for a moment, because you could see he was worried about Cimarron too.

    Jennings never once in the book comes right out with it. The oblivious reader might just think they’re bunkmates and pals and nothing more and the scene is of a “kids say the darndest things” kind. But you really see the subtext of that passage when you look at the glossary of cowboy terms Jennings provides at the end of the book and look up “bunkie”. I wondered for years about all this, and it was only when I eventually learned the rest of Jennings’ work as a gay rights activist that it all fell into place.

  3. Soren456
    October 21, 2013

    Bruce, did Cimarron come back?

  4. Bruce Garrett
    October 22, 2013

    (Grin) You should read the book…it’s a good one…one of my favorites. Much better than the movie.

    Cimarron was okay…he just went outlaw hunting.

  5. Soren456
    October 22, 2013

    @Bruce: Thanks. I was worried. I will find the book.

    On a western side note: A year ago, I picked up a Louis L’Amour novel. I was knocked over by the beauty and simplicity and narrative strength of his prose. Completely unexpected.

    I’m not into the genre at all, but for good storytelling and some wonderful prose, I’d recommend him.

    Thanks again.

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