Study Guide

Rear Window Community

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The apartments around the courtyard in Rear Window represent a community. The funny thing is, they're a pretty detached and self-absorbed community. They live their lives quite separate from each other, even though they're joined by a common courtyard, and as we learn in one tearful accusation, they don't seem to be particularly caring.

At the same time, we do see evidence of neighborly feeling here and there. Miss Torso looks devastated at the death of the dog, for example, and Miss Lonelyhearts tells the discouraged songwriter that his music saved her life. Jeff, with his globetrotting job, probably hasn't been very involved with his neighbors; he only knows them by his nicknames for them. If he knew them, we doubt he'd be spying on them. That's the kind of thing that requires anonymity.

The movie raises the question of what's more appropriate: minding one's own business, or giving a darn about what's happening in your neighborhood.

Questions About Community

  1. What are some of the ways the community shows no interest in each other? What are some of the ways they show that they care?
  2. How do Jeff's activities hurt the community? How do they help the community?
  3. Is the woman's accusation at the death of her dog indicative of what this community is like? Or, is it just a woman grieving over her pet?
  4. How and why does Thorwald represent a danger to this community, and not just to his wife?

Chew on This

There is no real community here, just a bunch of people who live in the same neighborhood.

Hitchcock gives us some hope of community. Even if it's because of the death of the dog and the murder of Thorwald's wife, people will now pay a little more attention to each other.

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