Study Guide

The Breakfast Club Family


No one gets along with their parents in The Breakfast Club. Bender's father abuses him, even burning him with a cigar at one point. The other kids' parents aren't physically abusive, but they don't understand their kids and try to force them into things they'd rather avoid. It's a pretty bleak depiction of family life. If you're someone like Allison Reynolds, you're pretty much alone in life, unless a bunch of friends suddenly fall into your lap (as happens in the movie).

Questions About Family

  1. Are the family lives of high school students usually this bad? Or is it an exaggeration?
  2. Which of the characters seems to have the best family life (relatively speaking)—and which has the worst?
  3. On the show Spaced, a character says that, "The family of the 21st century is made of friends." Is this true—or does it have a degree of truth? Does The Breakfast Club predict this?

Chew on This

The great writer Tolstoy once claimed that, "All happy families are alike. All unhappy families are unhappy in a different way." You could say this is true of The Breakfast Club: Brian, Andrew, Allison, Bender, and Claire all experience distinct kinds of suffering through family life.

On the other hand, you could argue that there are huge similarities in the way family life makes them unhappy. Brian and Andrew both suffer from different kinds of pressure—academic and athletic—while Allison and Bender both deal with apparent neglect. And Claire shares something that they all have: Their parents don't treat them like people, but as a means to an end.