Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Rebel Without a Cause Essay

In the late hours of the night Jim Stark, the main character of Nicholas Ray’s, Rebel Without a Cause, can be found resting his head against a piece of crumpled wrapping paper, lying on the cold pavement, droning out all his troubles with the sound of a toy monkey’s clamour. Throughout the entirety of the film Jim constantly seems to be droning out his problems, whether it be with a toy monkey of with a rebellious facade, which subconsciously distracts him from his true issues. Jim Stark’s defiant nature is rooted at his angst and eagerness in which he holds within himself. The only manner in which he feels he can accurately expose his emotions is through rebellion. In the beginning of the film when Jim shouts to his arguing parents in despair, â€Å"You’re tearing me apart! You say one thing, he says another, and everybody changes back again,† he is unleashing the built up confusion that is festering inside of him. Being that Jim is a somewhat complicated teenager his thoughts often seem to be consumed with questions. Jim questions his masculinity, his choices, the meaning of his life and his purpose. This confusion within him leads him to become desperate for answers and since his parents do not seem to offer him a solution he rebels in order to find one on his own. Jim chooses to rebel in various different manners. The most dramatic forms of rebellion involve his parents and his peers, Judy, Plato, Buzz and Buzz’s gang. With his parents Jim questions their roles, specifically his fathers feminine mannerisms. Being that Jim’s mother seems to play a more masculine role while Jim’s father plays a more feminine role, Jim becomes confused and attempts to correct this problem through rebellion. A clear depiction of this is when Jim encounters his father in a frilly yellow apron cleaning up a tray of spilled food. At the sight of this Jim becomes infuriated with his father and tells him to stand up and be a man. This scene is later repeated later in the film when Jim returns home after the death of Buzz. After asking his father for guidance as to whether of not he should go to the police Jim’s father is unable to offer him a straight answer and resorts to everything that Jim’s mother has to say. This leads Jim’s mother to contemplate moving again and Jim responds by saying, â€Å"Dad, stand up for me. † At this point Jim is practically begging his father to be more of a man and to stand up for him against his mother. Jim’s father does not respond, propelling Jim to yank him up shouting, â€Å"Stand up. † This scene is a clear representation of Jim’s rebellion against his father. Jim feels as if he is lacking a fatherly figure and will resort to being violent towards his father in order to â€Å"man him up. † Another moment in which Jim’s rebellion shines through is in the deadly chicken game with his rival Buzz. Wearing a bright red jacket, to represent his destructive nature, over his pristine white shirt, that represents his true purity, Jim heads out the cliff where him and Buzz will drive stolen cars close to the water and jump out beforehand, the winner being the one who jumps out last. Buzz, who sports a yellow shirt representing his true cowardly ways, seems to push Jim into doing this strange activity. When Jim asks, â€Å"Why do we do this? † Buzz says â€Å"You got to do something. † In this moment it becomes obvious that Jim feels that by rebelling through the participation in this chicken game, he is developing some sort of meaning to his life. This game will create a name for himself amongst his peers and this influences him to participate. Because Jim is vulnerable and wants to fit in he gives in. His rebellious nature in this scene is derived from the need to fit in, which all teenagers go through. Often adolescents will attempt to prove themselves to their friends by doing something risky in order to be one with the crowd. Even though Jim knows that this is wrong, he is rebelling against his uncertainties and the unanswered questions he has within him because he views rebellion as the only viable answer. His overpowering emotions and his desire to fit in create a wicked mutineer out of him. Film critic Leo Goldsmith from Reverse Shot says in reference to the film, â€Å"Under Ray’s dissecting eye, the suburban home itself becomes a battleground where parent and child must scream over each other to be heard. † The beginnings of all of Jim’s problems seem to rest on the warzone in which he is living at home. This angst, resentment and anger that he feels towards his father translate throughout everything his does in his life and lead him to rebel. Because Frank is unable to fulfill his role of guiding Jim, Jim feels that he must find his way on his own, making his a rebel with a very good cause.

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