A Delinquent Rebel One thing is clear throughout Nicolas Ray’s 1955 film Rebel Without a Cause is that it’s centered around teenage delinquency. The film would have you believe that adolescents are irrationally and inherently rebellious, however there is a deeper side to the troubled teens. The viewpoint Is to show Jim, Judy, and Plato are motivated by their own twisted upbringings. Society stands in the way of their rebellion and from this we understand the social outcast aspect as well as the political standing of this time.
The characters aren’t demonic in the eyes of the viewer but rather shown to e sympathetic and from this relationship we better understand the human need for acceptance. Being different or new Just as Jim was can be an easy target for getting outcast. Many people in our society can understand the feeling of being alone and being pushed away especially If they went through school. Often we see the “popular group” and wanted to be similar to them or at least wanted a friend. When you are targeted it can make you hate others and rebel in ways you might not have done before.
How an individual will react from outcast varies but often a child delinquent can be a result of It. Jim had a difficult time making friends to the point where he stopped trying to make them. He states, “I’m not looking for friends” It seems that even before his new high school he was alone. Plato looked up to Jim and saw him as father figure who understands the struggle of being alienated. Judy saw the company of the Wheel gang as comfortable place outside of home. It Is part of life to be excluded by others and Is a way of growing up and understanding yourself as well as the world around you.
Jim, Plato, and Judy all have difficulties knowing who they are because they don’t understand society and the exclusion they face. America at this time saw politically the right wing way of dealing with delinquents. It wasn’t so much looking at the roots of the problem and decided that bad kids were they way they are because they are simply bad kids. The films viewpoint is different from that and is show to be more politically left winged and liberal. You are to see Jim, Judy, and Plato as confused teenagers you can relate to and sympathize with.
What is seen as the root of the problem (bad parenting. Especially weak or absent father figures) indicates the liberal aspects that it insist purely the fault of a reckless teen but rather he homestead and society. America wasn’t use to seeing such a liberal take on this topic and many at the time didn’t question what was going on at home. Jimmied, and Plato all understood In their own way what Is meant to be alone and each had similar experiences with trouble in life at home. In many cases a trouble teen is the result of the consequences and other dilemmas they witness from their family.
Jim wanted a father figure In his life and hated seeing his father get pushed around by his mother. HIS parents were very loving but Instead of helping Jim with 1 OFF tuition in Jims life much worse and more confusing. Family troubles can deeply affect a person and the actors in this film react to such problems by being reckless. Jim is found drunk on the street, Judy is found wondering around at la. M. , and Plato is found with a gun. All underage and considered troubled but all running away from home. Judo’s father doesn’t understand why a girl wants so much attention, when in reality it’s Just a way to show you care about your child.
She wants a kiss before dinner as she has always done but her father responds, “You’re getting too old for hat kind stuff kiddo, I wish you stopped doing that stuff long ago”, making Judy angry and upset. Her mother is also not understanding as to why she wants the attention and I believe that some adults feel that at a certain age you need to grow out of childish things and learn to become an adult. Some people especially at the age of a teenager need the support of a family and when it isn’t given the feeling of sadness creeps in.
How anyone handles their emotion varies but for a teen it can be extreme and this film shows it. Plat’s family isn’t even shown in the film because he has no ether and his mother is constantly away and even leaves him alone on his birthday. Being a delinquent and doing “Stupid” actions is a way to get your parents attention and can make you as an individual seem like you actually matter in life. The Wheel Gang Jim comes in contact with is a group of high school kids who try to get attention from their delinquent actions and they find it humorous.
In fact their rebelling is a way to show how they are against society and that they create their own rules of how to live. Having a knife fight or slashing someone’s tire Just because they ere being “A funny guy” is completely idiotic but it shows that they are actually a part of a group. They dislike Jim but they give him a chance to Join and even though their way of Joining is careless/reckless, it’s something Jim can relate to. The need to be a part of something can be enough motivation to do anything given the individuals desire.
However I don’t think Jim really wants to be a part of their gang but rather wants to know Judy. Love can be a fickle thing but ever since he laid eyes on Judy at the police station he does everything he can to know her. Also he can’t tend being called a “chicken” because he doesn’t want to be in any way shape or form like his father, who he thinks is chicken. Plato is always on the sidelines wanting to help and tries the best he can even though he barely knows Jim. “He’s my best friend, he doesn’t say much but when he does he means it, he’s sincere. Plato feels he has a friend and this is desire all human beings aspire for. Not Just the feeling of friendship but the feeling of being loved. For what is the world without love? A very confusing dismal world and that is the world Jim and Plato have lived in. Judy lives in similar world aspiring for love and tries to shut out the society/family life by being with Buzz (leader of the Gang). Being so young and having such troubles can way heavy on ones consciousness. Living a reckless life in itself can release such stresses and make one feel alive and involved.
Being careless doesn’t seem to matter for these individuals including the Wheel gang because no one else seems to care what actions they make. Death is a consequence of a reckless life whether or not the individual is aware of would later regret if he could. Jim isn’t a type of character I think wants death but the excitement of death being near makes anyone feel alive. It makes you forget about your worries and fears. Childhood delinquency is the result of many different emotions and events throughout ones life but this film is intended to show that the recklessness can bring people together.
Jim Just wants a family that’s normal and Plato Just wants a father. Judy in a way also wants a father figure but is matured enough to see Jim as a husband figure or man that could be involved in her life. The family setting they create in the empty mansion is a time where life doesn’t have to be reckless and they come together. However the ending of the film Jut like Buzz’s death reminds us that the world isn’t so simple and that being a delinquent has its consequences. Its hard for Jim, Plato, and Judy to grow up when they have such a hard time with where they are now in life.
Death can be harsh way of understanding life but its something everyone will have to come in terms with. Plat’s death is a door to see many things for Jim and Judy and what they choose to see will decided who they will later become. Their relationship with each other allows them to go into the mainstream form of life but Plato is truly an outsider for he fits in no where. Plato is orphaned by his parent’s neglect, and has no proper place in the pretend family they created at the mansion.
His death is something that needs to happen in the film to really get across to the viewer what can happen if a child is alienated and stamped as a delinquent. Nicholas Ray’s “Rebel Without A Cause” shows the result of the Juvenile delinquency epidemic, even as today it is considered as an explanation of the condition of the modern teenager. It take an unconventional look at the subject from what many at the time simple saw it as a problem that was the result of bad kids. This problem started somewhere that people didn’t even considered and that was family life, society, and social outcast.
This is controversial for some at the times because there were other worries such as communism and the way of American freedom was at risk. No one wanted to hear that the problem wasn’t the bad kids but the homestead. There is also another topic many could miss when viewing the film and that was the topic of homosexuality. Being one of the first films at the time to deal with such a topic, for Plato was suppose to be depicted as a homosexual teenager. However much of the film was re-edited to cut out such homosexual themes because it was seen as too daring of content for the time.
Being able to show such verity of Delinquencies is truly amazing because it can even be related to today’s times. No matter what advances we make as human beings the emotions of an individual will always be there and when one is alienated/outcast by their family or society the result of a reckless person can emerge and has throughout all of our American history. It simply deals with how one can grow up when not given the proper support needed to become an adult who “fits in” to the world around them.