Jim Stark

Jim Stark

    Rebel Without A Cause
Photo Credit: Everett Collection

Character Analysis

(Avoiding Spoilers)

Living… in Los Angeles, where he just moved with his family. They moved because Jim was in trouble in the last town they lived in. His folks thought they were protecting him by moving and that he’d make friends.  Jim resented the assumption that moving would make everything peachy.  It was just his parents’ way of not addressing the real problem.

Profession… student at Dawson High School where the kids gave him grief from the moment he started. Buzz and his gang wouldn't let up until he agreed to race stolen cars against Buzz, so he had no choice. The only friend he has around is Plato, and he ain't much of a fighter like Buzz's goons. It's all the same wherever Jim goes. Some people can't help but step on his toes.

Interests… smoking, drinking, and anything rebellious. Jim just wants to make his parents understand that they’re tearing him apart. Jim is tired of letting them run away. All his father says is that he’s too young to understand anything, and that he’ll be laughing about all this in ten years – which only makes Jim more resentful.

Relationship Status… one thing that's changing for the better. Judy was with Buzz before Jim came along. At first she was giving him as much grief as the rest of the students. Still, Jim liked her from the moment he saw her. Now she’s falling for him fast, and he needs her around.

Challenge… growing up. Jim didn't want to fall back into those old sandbox duels. But it was a question of honor. Buzz challenges him to a knife fight and calls him chicken, which really pisses Jim off. But that was the least of his worries because then Buzz challenges him to a game of racing stolen cars off the edge of a cliff. Jim had to race him or he wouldn’t have been able to face those kids again.

Personality… cool, calm, brooding, and rebellious. But that won't do anymore. In Jim’s mind, he’s never done anything right.  He’s been going around with his head in a sling for years, thinking himself better off dead: “I don't know what to do anymore. Except maybe die.” He doesn't want to drag his family into this, but he can't help it.  He’s realizing he can’t prove anything by going around pretending he’s tough anymore.


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