John Bender

John Bender

    The Breakfast Club
Photo Credit: Everett Collection

Character Analysis

(Avoiding Spoilers)

Growing Up… in Shermer, Ill., with a bad father. At some point Bender spilled paint, and his punishment from his dad was a cigar burn, which has since become a scar—at least, that’s what Bender says. 

Profession… high school student. He’s clever enough to excel at any high school class, and he’s savvy enough to trade arguments with the best orators. But school is not really his thing. To nobody’s surprise, Bender is spending another Saturday in full-day detention. And if he doesn’t watch his mouth, he’ll be showing up for detention on Saturdays for the next two months. Assistant Principal Vernon threatens him with another week’s detention every time he runs his mouth: “Just say the word…instead of going to prison, you’ll come here.”

Interests… marijuana, fighting, and breaking the rules. Bender gets himself into a whole slew of trouble, and he seems to love it.

Relationship Status… single. He’s got ladies on the side, certainly, and he’s always open to finding another honey to ride shotgun with him. The poor little rich girl Claire, also here in detention, is beginning to interest him.

Challenge… making it through the day without getting sentenced to detention for the rest of his life. Bender makes a name for himself as a back-talker. But if he’d just stop putting up the tough guy front and say how he really feels, he might actually get somewhere.

Personality… fearless, confident, and snarky—at least on the outside. Once you get into the head of this battered young man, you realize that a lot of his façade is simply a shield against expressing his true feelings. He shows anger because he can’t let himself cry, and to keep people at arm’s length so he’s less likely to get hurt. But maybe spending a Saturday with four people he probably wouldn’t even deign to speak to on a normal day – and vice versa – is just what Bender needs to break out of his self-destructive rut.


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