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Confused TeenagersEdit

Rebel Without a Cause had a large influence on teenage culture comparable to Elvis Presley. Ebert said it allowed young men in this time period to “be more, feminine, sexier,more confused, more ambiguous” (Ebert)seems to be a role reversal between the mother and father in the Stark household that largely influences Jim Stark’s behavior. Mrs. Stark controls her husband and Jim sees his father as a very weak man. He finds his father in one scene wearing a flowery apron over his suit while he cleans. Clearly Jim Stark is confused, but so are the rest of the teenagers. The bully Buzz for example, tells Stark he likes him right before the race; however, when Stark asks why they race, Buzz can’t give a reasonable answer. This shows that he is just as confused and disturbed as Stark.

According to Beth Bailey, WWII played a large role in defining the difference between men and women. Post-War America was confident and full of "images of soldiers embracing women as confetti" (Bailey 261). This is what the children of the 50's grew up seeing and comparing to themselves. Critics on America's society claimed that success was the cause of overconfidence and the loss of the values that are necessary for success. So how does any of this affect teenagers? The American dream after WWII had such high standards due to the increase in economy that kids had huge amounts of pressure to live up to that dream. This pressure negatively affected them and cause many teenagers to act out. There was an increase in juvenile delinquency. This is what Rebel Without a Cause gets its name from. All these teenagers acting out for no reason except the constant pressure the parents and society to be successful. 

Another major change the war had on American culture was the dating lifestyle. It was in the 50's when "going steady" became a thing. Bailey said that in 1959, 47% of all brides married before their nineteenth birthday. popularity was defined by going steady. Magazines such as Cosmopolitan promoting this idea. This just put more pressure on teenagers and enhanced the whole rebel without a cause idea. This juvenile delinquency can be clearly seen in  Rebel Without a Cause. Buzz and his gang are the perfect representation of 1950's teenagers. Judy smokes underage, they all ride in one car, they pick fights for no reason, and they even still cars and play a very dangerous game of chicken. Success in Rebel Without a Cause runs both Judy and Jim's lives. Judy fills the void of success with love and dating. First it is Buzz who she has no real feelings for. Their relationship purely focuses on a desire for popularity, which is the only version of success they know. Then Buzz dies and she immediately moves on to Jim just a few hours later. That's an extreme representation but it shows how success runs the lives of teenagers in America. Jim on the other hand was overwhelmed by success. It ran him into the ground. His fear of being unsuccessful controlled him and turned him into a rebel. There actually is a cause to his rebellion, but in the 1950's America was unable to figure out why so many teenagers fell into a criminal lifestyle


Bailey, Beth. "Rebels Without a Cause? Teenagers in the 1950's." The Eisenhower Consensus. N.p.: n.p.,   n.d. N. pag. Web. 15 Mar. 2013.

Ebert, Roger. "Rebel Without a Cause." RSS. Chicago-Sun Times, 19 June 2005. Web. 14 Mar. 20