That's exactly how Mr. Lee films their first sexual grappling (discreetly) in the shadows of the cramped little tent. The next morning, Ennis mumbles, "I'm no queer." And Jack replies, "Me neither." Still, they do it again, and again, in the daylight as well as at night. Sometimes their pent-up passions explode in ferocious roughhouse that is indistinguishable from fighting.
This moving and majestic film would be a landmark if only because it is the first Hollywood movie to unmask the homoerotic strain in American culture that Leslie Fiedler discerned in his notorious 1948 Partisan Review essay, "Come Back to the Raft Ag'in, Huck Honey." Fiedler characterized the bond between Huckleberry Finn and Jim, a runaway slave, as an unconscious romantic attachment shared by two males of different races as they flee the more constraining and civilizing domain of women. He went on to identify that bond as a recurrent theme in American literature.
In popular culture, Fiedler's Freudianism certainly could be applied to the Lone Ranger and Tonto. Minus the ethnic division, it might also be widened to include a long line of westerns and buddy movies, from "Red River" to "Midnight Cowboy" to "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid": the pure male bonding that dare not explore its shadow side.
We're all gay cowboys, now.
Not being a literary scholar, I'm just wondering: Wasn't Huck Finn in his early teens? Wasn't Jim a grown man?