Breakfast Club Allison Analysis Essay

Allison Reynolds (Ally Sheedy)

Character Analysis

Unusual Taste in Sandwiches

Allison Reynolds (Ally Sheedy) embodies the Weirdo stereotype. She's likely the most enigmatic character in the movie. When she's dropped off, she turns to say goodbye to her father, but he just drives off. It helps foreshadow the point that she makes later, that she's unhappy because her parents ignore her.

At first, during detention, she doesn't talk at all. We see her doing unusual things like removing the cold cut from a sandwich and then replacing it with cereal and sugar from pixie sticks. She proceeds to eat it. Also, she draws a picture and then creates snow in the picture using her own dandruff. So, her behavior's kind of off.

But Allison eventually starts to say things. (She's also the only student who avoids smoking pot with the others.) She reveals that she's a neglected girl who has her own outlook on life. Allison's also adept at getting the others to reveal more about themselves: By pretending that she had an affair with her psychologist, she gets Claire to admit that she's never had sex (Allison's actually a virgin too):

ALLISON: I'll do anything sexual. I don't need a million dollars to do it either...

CLAIRE You're lying...

ALLISON: I already have... I've done just about everything there is except a few things that are illegal... I'm a nymphomaniac!

A Lot of Heart

Given her upbringing, Allison's feelings about parents and kids are sort of cynical. Yet, there's also a kind of sincerity and empathy underlying them. She wants to retain the passionate feelings of adolescence throughout her life and not give into numbness and middle-aged emptiness. She has this exchange with the others:

ANDREW: My God, are we gonna be like our parents?

CLAIRE: Not me… ever.

ALLISON: It's unavoidable; it just happens.

CLAIRE: What happens?

ALLISON: When you grow up, your heart dies.

BENDER: So, who cares?

ALLISON: I care.

Allison cares. She doesn't want to lose the magical warm-heartedness and humanity that supposedly attends your teenage years. She doesn't want to age into someone like Richard Vernon, who seems sort of arrogant and slickly villainous.

But despite the fact that Allison doesn't want to change, she actually undergoes a big change at the end of the movie. It's the most controversial part in the movie, actually. Allison and Andrew have started to hit it off, but in order for her to prove really attractive to Andrew, Claire needs to give her a makeover. She removes Allison's Goth-punk look, takes off her black eyeliner, and puts a bow in her hair. Andrew is smitten! They're gonna be together now! All she had to do was sacrifice her individual style and appeal to a more widely accepted image of sprightly young womanhood.

In a way, it's kind of like the end of Grease: In that movie, Olivia Newton John's character abandons her nice-girl style to become a leather-clad greaser-girl who will appeal to John Travolta's character. But be that as it may, Allison's presumably learned all the lessons that everyone else has needed to learn about getting along.

Then again, there's the possibility she didn't need to learn those lessons in the first place—she didn't have any friends before going to detention, but she says the kind of friends she thinks she might've had wouldn't have minded if she hung out with jocks and rich girls and criminals. She's very tolerant.

Allison Reynolds's Timeline

Allison Reynolds is the basket case, the loner, the weirdo, the bag lady, the wacko, the recluse. She's spending nine hours in the library because she "had nothing better to do."

Allison claims to be a nymphomaniac. She and the others goad Claire to "just answer the question"-the question being: Are you or are you not a virgin? Have you ever "done it"? Allison: "It's kind of a double-edged sword, isn't it?" Claire: "A what?" Allison: "Well, if you say you haven't, you're a prude; if you say you have, you're a slut. It's a trap. You want to but you can't and when you do you wish you didn't, right? Or are you a tease?" Andrew: "She's a tease. All girls are teases."

"Let's talk about sex, baby/ Let's talk about you 'n' me/ Let's talk about all the good things/ And the bad things that may be/ Let's talk about sex." Salt-'n'-Pepa.

The scene's pressure builds until Claire finally yells "No! I never did it!" Allison then admits, "I never did it either. I would do it, though. If you love someone its okay." By the end of the movie, Allison and Claire have both formed unlikely pairs-with Andrew and Bender, respectively. Viewing The Breakfast Club and other films in the genre, Sarah Crichton argued on the pages of Ms. that all teen movies are, in the final analysis, about teen sex. "Did the deb and the punk do it in the storage closet?" She leaves him with her diamond earring, after all, and "What girl gives diamonds for good necking?" (Crichton 90). The feminist critique it that first-time teen sex, a hopelessly messy affair, is portrayed as not only good but redemptive for the previously cold and hard-hearted girls: "The deb . . . will break free from mindless popularity; the basket case will flower into a tender woman. . . . And all the girls will be beholden to their sweet saviors" (Crichton 90).

"[T]he only realistic thing about teen sex in their movies is that no one uses birth control. And the movies end before anyone can see the result" (Crichton 91). The teenage pregnancy "epidemic"-"babies having babies"-was not really quite so epidemic as the media made it out to be, but lots of Breakfast Clubbers had more than a scare (see Males, Holtz). And lots more picked up a sexually transmitted diseases, including AIDS. In 1985, AIDS still seemed like something that only inner-city IV drug users and gay men (and a few recipients of blood transfusions, like Ryan White) could catch. Certainly not The Breakfast Club in their safe white middle-class Chicago suburb. So even if Claire and Bender did do more than make out, it all seems somehow innocent in comparison to the relationships of Breakfast Clubbers today and probably a lot simpler that it ever was.

We can resent the old images of carefree casual sex, we can practice "serial monogamy," we can long to reestablish-at least as individuals-stable lasting marriages, but we can't make sex as simple as a romp in the closet. Allison's right: "If you love someone it's okay." If not it's just not worth it-the danger, the potential cost, is just too high. We know the images of odd-couple hook-ups in The Breakfast Club are fantasies; we knew it then, too.

The IssuesThe Breakfast Club Generation

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