Plato Character Analyses

By: Chris Meinholz

Plato's Personality Traits:

Loneliness

Plato is truly alone in his life. He did not have any friends until Jim comes around. Even though Jim was his only friend, Plato looked up to Jim as a father figure because of his family's dysfunction. Most of Plato's issues are because he is alone in life.

Searching for a Family

Family dysfunction is probably the second largest issue for Plato. Plato's father abandoned his family a long time ago and all that Plato can remember is eating breakfast with his dad. Plato's mother also spends a lot of time away. During the movie, it is Plato's birthday and his mother is not around to celebrate it with him. Plato was basically raised by their servant. That is why Plato fantasizes that Jim is his father and Judy is his mother.

Aggression

Because of Plato's loneliness and family disfunction, Plato acts out with aggression. A couple of his acts of aggression are when he shot the puppies and later when he shot one of the bullies using his mother's gun.

Plato's Family Dysfunction:

Father's Abandonment

When Plato was young, his father abandoned him and his family. Plato does not know where his father is and has not seen him in years. When plato looks through his mother's mail and finds the child support check, he opens it hoping for a letter, which he never gets.

Mother's Always Being Gone

Even though Plato's mother has not completely abandoned him like his father had, Plato's mother is gone more than she is around. During the movie, it is Plato's birthday and, as usual, Plato's mother is not around. Plato's mother can't even make time for him on his birthday. Plato's mother never spends time with him. Plato was raised by the servant.

Puppy Shooting

Since puppies are eventually abandoned by their mother and never know their father, Plato shoots the puppies as an act of his imagination of him shooting himself. This may be one of the hints that if Plato had not met Jim and Judy, he probably would have committed suicide.

Fantasy Family

Since Plato basically has no family in real life, Plato is looking for someone to fill their spots. Jim and Judy are the closest Plato has to parental figures. Plato sees Jim as a father figure, especially after he offers Plato his coat when he is cold. Jim, Judy, and Plato play out a mock family when they are in the abandoned mansion.

Did Plato change during this story?

No, he did not.

I do not believe that Plato learned anything from his experiences. His family dysfunction led him to search for parental figures to fantasize a family unit. When he meets Jim and Judy, they fill Plato's void for parental figures. When Jim, Judy, and Plato are at the mansion, Plato imagines them as a family, but later, when he wakes up and he is in trouble,
JIm and Judy are nowhere to be found. That is when Plato looses faith in them and after fighting and shooting one of the bullies, he runs off to the planetarium. Plato no longer trusts anybody and ends up getting shot by the police. I do not feel like Plato learned much because at the end when he was killed, he was in the same position he was in the beginning. He had nobody.

The Mansion:

What does the mansion symbolize?

I think that the mansion symbolizes a fantasy home for the fantasy family that Jim, Judy and Plato play out. Since all three of them have some sort of family dysfunction, their own homes don't really feel like home and their families don't feel like families. The mansion is a fantasy home for them to play out their fantasy family.

Theme:

What is the theme of Rebel Without a Cause?

I believe that the theme of Rebel Without a Cause is family. This movie is trying to show how important a properly functioning family is to a teenager. It shows three different families, Jim's, Judy's, and Plato's, that all have dysfunctionality and the results of a family dysfunctioning on a teenager. Family dysfunction is the major cause of problems for Jim, Judy, and Plato.

Question...

Should Jim have gone to the police?

I do not believe that Jim should have gone to the police. He really had no reason to. He didn't kill Buzz. He wasn't responsible for what happened. The only one to blame for Buzz's death was Buzz himself, even though it technically was an accident.

If Jim had not have gone to the police, he also would not have gotten in trouble with Buzz's friends, who thought Jim was ratting them out. He would have never had to run away to the mansion, Plato never would have shot one of the bullies, and Plato would never have gotten shot by the police. Most of that trouble would never have happened if Jim hadn't gone to the police.