Character Dynamics in The Breakfast Club

If you’re like me and are always trying to broaden your film ‘watched list’, The Breakfast Club is definitely the film to add if you already haven’t. Unfortunately, there’s no explosions, car chases, wizards or vampires sparkling, but instead the story of five teenagers serving a Saturday detention. It’s a simple enough storyline to follow, filled with dorky dancing, spitballs, teenage experimenting, rule breaking and heart to hearts. The film opens with a quote from David Bowie to set the overall tone and feeling of the film.

The Breakfast Club

Mr Vernon (the head teacher) sets each of the characters the task of writing ‘who they think they are’ and of course, they spent their day doing everything but that. First though, let’s divulge into the characters that make up the ‘breakfast club’ a little more, and nothing quite represents a character then their lunch.

(John) Bender a.k.a The Criminal:

His best bits include blowing up his locker, briefly setting fire to his shoe and telling Mr Vernon to “eat my shorts”. As the audience, we get to understand a bit of Bender’s back-story which suggests he’s a regular in the detention world and is physically abused by his father. Bender has no lunch – doesn’t really help us much…or does it?

Andrew a.k.a The Athlete:

Andrew is a wrestler that has to wear tights whilst wrestling (“it’s the required uniform”), is a varsity letterman, experiences parental pressure to do well at his sport (don’t we all!) and is more than willing to get into a fight. Andrew has one impressive lunch, containing three separately wrapped sets of sandwiches, a large bag of crisps, a packet of cookies, a large carton of juice and not to forget a banana and an apple.

Claire a.k.a. The Princess:

The best way to really represent Claire is her nickname as the princess – she’s seen as a daddy’s girl who could not get her out of detention but said he would instead make it up to her. Claire’s lunch bag would put a four star restaurant to shame. It contains: a wooden stand, a napkin, chopsticks, soy sauce in a small glass gar and a black box with sushi in – a sandwich and a packet of crisps really is not of value to Claire.

Brian a.k.a. The Brain:

Brian is an anagram of brain and is Brian’s nickname in the film. The film starts off with Brian being told by his mother to find a way to study in detention despite him telling her that they are just meant to “sit there” all day. Brian is part of the Physics, Math and Latin club and referred to as a “parent’s wet dream” from Bender. Bender also describes Brian’s lunch as “a very nutritious lunch, all the food groups are represented” which ultimately highlights the fact that Brian really has it all made for him.

Allison a.k.a. The Basket Case:

Early on in the film, the rest of the club refers to Allison as “she doesn’t talk”, but later we see her more than make up for that. She completes a picture she drew during detention by shaking her dandruff-ridden hair to add snow and is given a make over by Claire, of which Andrew in particular is pleased about. For her lunch she throws the ham from her sandwich on a statue in the library and replaces it with sugar and crisps, which shows just how crazy she really is.

Despite their obvious different personalities (and lunches) and not to mention weird traits, they all bizarrely connect as a group, and that’s what so special about this film. As the audience, you get to see five people that only have one thing in common with each other (that they all did something wrong to get into detention) and leave the school at the end of the day having experienced a day that they will never experience again. They’ll also probably never speak to each other again as they all move on with their lives.

When they do finally remember they have to complete an essay by the end of the day, the responsibility of the task is put to The Brain (Brian) who comes up with the following…

Brian: “Dear Mr Vernon, we accept the fact that we had to sacrifice a whole Saturday in detention for whatever it was we did wrong. But we think you’re crazy to make us write an essay telling you who we think we are. You see us as you want to see us – in the simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions. But what we found out is that each one of us is a brain…”

Andrew: “…and an athlete…”

Allison: “…and a basket case…”

Claire: “…a princess…”

(John) Bender: “…and a criminal…”

Brian: “Does that answer your question? Sincerely yours, the Breakfast Club. “

The film concludes with Bender walking across the school field and pumps his fist in the air with Simple Minds ‘Don’t You (Forget About Me)’ accompanying him. This is a film that should be seen by everyone at least once. Whatever your age at some point you would have been able to relate to at least one of these characters, if not them all at some point of your life.

Emma Willcox, Film Features Writer

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