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The Breakfast Club: Film and Adolescent Development Themes

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What do you care? You see us as you want to see us - in the simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions. You see us as a brain, an athlete, a basket case, a princess and a criminal. Correct? That's the way we saw each other at 7:00 this morning. We were brainwashed (IMDB) This statement sets up the premise of the film as the students begin by dismissing each other as being nothing more than representative of a series of stereotypes. The beginning of the film explores the way in which they see each other through their affiliation with other students of a similar type who are categorized according to similar aspects of the physical appearance as it connected to similar interests.

Truths begin to emerge about the way in which each student individualizes their experiences within the social group in which they are identified. The students become divided into two groups; with John Bender remaining on the outside of those groups similar to his classification of criminal would place him outside of societal. Molly Ringwald’s character, Claire Standish and Emilio Estevez’s character Andrew Clark represent the more powerful groups in the high school atmosphere.

Clair is wealthy and wears stylish, expensive clothing and is very active in popular clubs and experiences. Andrew is a jock, his role based upon his skills in athletics. Claire and Andrew are involved in very different social groups, but are both popular and have a certain amount of power in the dynamic of the overall social structure of the school. The character of Brian and Ally Sheedy’s character Allison Reynolds play less popular students with Brian a part of the more intellectually based clubs and Allison being a loner whose social group may actually have no other members, although this is never fully clarified.

Each of the characters begin being in conflict with each other. None of these groups, even in the divide between popular and unpopular, relates to the other. Through the development of conversation, however, they begin to find deeper concepts through which they relate. Both Allison and Andrew live in worlds where their personal identities are not the focus of how society sees them.

Andrew is identified by his athleticism, but he has no idea who he is outside of that identity. Allison has defined herself through strange behaviors that create a wall between her and the outside world, and she has yet to find a place in which she can express her true self. Claire and John both live in worlds where their socio-economic position identifies them with a group in which their personal power is swallowed by the expectations of society.

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