The movie “Breaking Away” presents the story of a young man from working class origins who seeks to better himself by creating a persona through which he almost, but not quite, wins the girl. The rivalry between the townies and the college students sets the scene for the story of four friends who learn to accept themselves as they "break away" from childhood and from their underdog self-images.
Dave Stoller, the main character, is a young man completely obsessed with cycling and Italy. His fantasies are so well fabricated that he drives his family crazy by behaving and speaking as if he were an Italian cyclist. Dave aspires to be one of the best cyclists yet the best racers are Italian. He feels that in order to be the best, he must be Italian. Dave carries his fantasy one step too far when he pretends to be an Italian exchange student in order to impress an attractive female college student. When he discovers that he actually likes her and confesses his charade, she ends the romance. This single act reveals to the audience that Dave is ashamed and embarrassed to tell Kat that the truth about his background; he obviously did not like who he was – a cutter. Dave felt that in order to win Kat he needed to pretend to be someone who he
was not. However, his plan did not go over well causing him to lose Kat.
Dave's father is a used-car salesman who disapproves of his son's Italian fantasies. Dave's father thinks his son is crazy, lazy, and that acting as if he were an Italian is probably going to get Dave locked up and keep him from getting a decent education or a good job. Dave is made aware of his father’s feelings several times throughout the movie. He realizes when his parents are discussing Dave’s future loudly and when Dave’s father does not acknowledge Dave when giving a customer a test-drive.
The race in which Dave competes with his heroes the Italian racing team, the Cinzanos, serves as an important scene for Dave’s self-actualization. Dave is working hard to be at the same level as the famed cyclists. He tries to converse with them during the race to find that they only...