In “The Breakfast Club” five contrasting personalities, each secure in his identity and yet filled with insecurities, spend a Saturday confined in detention at their school, Shermer High, in Illinois. Each character has a troubled life as foreshadowed in their presence in detention. As we take a look at each individual character and their backgrounds, we analyze each exclusive characters persona and true personality. In today’s world, as well as when the movie was shot, in 1985, it seems as though families shape, intentionally or not, their children into petite reflections of themselves.School, thru peer pressure and thru the various academic and social clubs, serves to enhance the socialization process begun at home. Fortunately, adolescents of every age are quite aware of what they are going through and have the ability to “break the fast” forced on them by the socialization process which begins in the home and is reinforced at school, not only by students and parents but disciplinarians like Mr.
Vernon as well. John Bender, the main character in the film, is seen as the “criminal”. His persona is portrayed in the film as a typical high school “bully”.He is a very rebellious character, who clearly wants to be seen as the tough guy to everyone, for example: smoking cigarettes and talking dirty to Claire, when he said, “come on Sporto, level with me. do you slip her the hot…
beef… injection? ” when talking about her sexual life, if one, with Andrew.
Bender seems to be very outspoken and always looking for trouble. He makes himself an instigator of many situations causing people to initially dislike him. His appearance alone is what I believe causes many people to have negative thoughts about him, he wears biker gloves, ratty clothes, has uncut hair, and has cigarette burns on his body.Bender definitely has a lot of issues that he doesn”t care to talk about, and its apparent that he deals with them by using dry humor and sarcasm. Although unbearable and insupportable, the others do not depict him as the guilty party for removing the screw and closing the door in the library, this shows that the rest of the detention crew is scared of what he will do to them because of what he comes off to be. Benders true personality is hidden beneath a lot of internal pain caused by his life outside of school.
John is subjected to severe mental and physical abuse at home.His father continuously nails him with vulgar names and burns his forearm with a lit cigar for spilling paint in the garage. I believe it is then that he rebels and becomes the “criminal”. It is sad though, because it seems as though he is labeled for life. Mr. Vernon yells at him, “See what he’ll be like in 5 years. ” It’s ironic that he has developed such a pessimistic outlook on life, yet he possesses such a fanatical insight into others’ personalities. Deep down John is very caring, you can tell that, in his own way, he has feelings for Claire.
His persona is very deceiving and leads you to believe that he doesn”t have a good heart, but in reality it is just his mask he puts on to hide all of the pain he is actually feeling. John takes it upon himself to save the others when they wander the halls and Mr. Vernon hears them. Here you can see that he truly wants to be a good person but is too scared what people will think of him if he wasn”t the typical punk. Andrew Clark, the athlete, always appears to want to please everyone around him; his father, his coach and his peers. Thus, his persona always comes off to be seen as the “popular” boy and he is ridiculed by Bender because of it.He is very defensive of Claire and doesn”t seem to trust anyone of lower social status when the movie first begins.
Andrew’s true personality is clearly different from what he is perceived as by others. It seems that he is looked at by others as a person that he doesn”t essentially want to be. Andrew doesn”t want to disappoint anyone, so he is turned into the person that everyone expects him to be. Deep down it’s obvious that he wants to be able to do what he wants. His life is shaped by everyday pressure put on him by his father and coach and not by his own decisions.Eventually he is going to breakdown and no longer involve himself in the things that he once found enjoyable but now is forced to do.
His coach and father expect him to be a winner. Perhaps this is why an attraction develops between him and the “basket case”, who is expected to be a nothing. He is truly frustrated and at the same time wants to be the best at whatever he does. His true personality is very sensitive and caring, which shows by his negative comment towards everyone, which he means reversibly, such as: “You ask me one more question and I”m beating the shit out of you! .
Brian Johnson, also known as the “brain”, is your typical geek. Johnson tries to look cool by saying, “It’s the shits, huh? ” thinking that he might fit in. He is very timid and rarely bends the rules. His dad is the “eyes and ears of the institution”, the janitor at the school, and is made fun of because of it. Brian is a member of the physics, Latin and math clubs at the school and thinking everyone would accept him socially for that, he brags about it and everyone looks at him as being even dorkier, Bender says, “So it’s sorta social..
demented and sad, but social. right? “.Brian has a fake ID so that he can vote, which is unlike many other teenagers use for a fake ID, which is to purchase alcohol.
Johnson’s true personality is hard to see through his lack of self confidence. He excels academically, but has very little social skills. He is appalled when he sees Benders weed which shows us, the audience, that he is a very straight edge kid.
He is very hard on himself and has a very difficult time accepting failure. Underneath it all, Brian is very intelligent and cares a lot about what others think of him. Allison Reynolds, the “basket case”, loves to get attention.She is an introvert, isolated from family and society, and has her own therapist.
She has been ignored all her life, by parents and students and school staff. She shows up at detention because she has no where else to go. The school environment serves only to reinforce her lack of socialization. In detention she uses dandruff as “snow” on a picture she has drawn and eats Cap”n Crunch and the contents of a Pixie Stick on bread as a sandwich. She doesn”t speak the entire first half of the movie and when she finally starts to talk, she doesn”t stop. Her persona is very reserved and awkward.
Many perceive her to be the “outcast”, the child that everyone hopes to not have. She acts like an animal because she doesn”t know any other social way of communicating. Allison is truly longing for love and is scared to face it.
She is a very creative individual with great artistic talents. I believe that how she is portrayed and what she actually wishes to be are completely different. Although seen as the weird, quiet girl, she wants to be loved and wants to love someone. Once she has makeup on in the movie, it’s apparent that her self esteem is boosted way up.Allison has a lot of potential for success in her life, once she breaks her shell from society she is sure to blossom into a talented artist or something along those lines. Claire Standish, the “princess”, places herself above everyone else in the film. Her families wealth and power and her association with the “in” crowd are what masks whatever problems she may have. She is looked at as very conceited, like when she says, “Do you know how popular I am? I”m so popular, everybody loves me so much at this school.
” It’s easy to see why people view Claire in such a negative sense, seeing as she brought sushi in her sushi box for lunch.That alone shows you a lot about her high and mighty attitude towards life. Claire would rather be shopping this Saturday morning, but instead she is disgusted that she has to sit in detention. She is seen as cool everywhere except at home where she is treated as an object her parents use to get back at one another.
Claire’s true personality isn”t based upon her appearance or others approval of her, it’s based on her feelings towards other people. Her true intelligence shines through her mask when a conversation starts between her and Bender about school clubs.She makes a statement about Bender being “afraid” to join a club, mainly because he doesn”t want to ruin his “tough guy” image. Claire is a genuine individual, she has a lot of potential for success if she could, for just a minute, put social class behind her.
Beneath all of the beauty Claire is internal struggling with figuring out who she truly is. With so much pressure put on her to stay “cool” and be presentable everyday, it seems as though she tends to forget what is really important, what she is behind all of the makeup and fancy clothes.Although some argue that the film, made almost 18 years ago, is no longer relevant in analyzing what makes “teenagers tick” today. I would have to disagree. I believe that teenagers, and the life they live, really isn”t much different from back in the day. Teenagers are still cliquey, still rebellious and still just as troubled as they were some 18 years ago. Hair and clothing styles are continually changing as time moves on and that is probably one of the main differences between 1985 and 2002 kids.
The attitudes of the students, as well as the way they are treated by adults, still remains relatively the same. In the movie, the Saturday detention that the school issues is just as pointless as the after school detentions that we receive, to this day, at Andover High. Students in both situations will find away to rebel against the system, basically just because that’s the way teenagers are. Regardless of the year, teenagers will always want to do their own thing, making the way teenagers act relatively similar year by year.