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One thing I have never understood about one of my favorite movies, "Ferris Bueller's Day Off": why does Jeanie decide to help Ferris out at the end of the movie and save him from being busted by Mr. Rooney?

She has spent the entire movie expressing her hatred for Ferris and finally has a chance to show her parents that he skipped school, yet she lets him off the hook and saves him from both her parents and Mr. Rooney.

At IMDB, someone has offered the explanation that it's because she doesn't want her brother to keep going to school with her, which he would be if Rooney holds him back and doesn't let him graduate. But I find this answer unsatisfying.

Also, it's been suggested that perhaps her therapy/makeout session at the police station with Charlie Sheen helped change her attitude. But I find this answer unsatisfactory too, because if this was the case, why did she speed home from the police station, hoping to get there before Ferris?

Can anyone offer up a better explanation for Jeanie's change of heart?

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6 Answers 6

up vote 9 down vote accepted

I never really considered it to be a territorial issue as much as it was for her to seize the only win-win outcome for herself:

Jeanie already faced-off (or rather, kicked in the face) Mr. Rooney, mistaking him for a normal burglar. Seeing that he was correctly pursuing Ferris for truancy (meaning Ferris was truant, not that his methods were justified)--and knowing the futility of law enforcement in the situation--she claimed her win over Mr. Rooney here by excusing Ferris' behavior and absence, which Mr. Rooney could not contest.

With Ferris, it is true she failed to justify hers and Ferris' inequitable treatment, as we remember from her voice-over in the school hallways ('why should Ferris get away with everything? ...after all I got a car, he got a computer...'). But, I speculate that getting home before Ferris would be her way to gain leverage over him.

The opportunity, however, to humiliate/deprive Mr. Rooney and indebt Ferris ultimately was probably more appealing than the inevitable shattered, broken happy home that would occur when their parents' found out he isn't such an angel as they believed.

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Basic psychology - students rebel against authority (even the goody-goodies). Giving Mr. Rooney a win was not in the cards. "The enemy of my enemy is my friend." To paraphrase - Ferris, the enemy of Mr. Rooney, is my friend.

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When you have a little/big brother or sister, you hate them...you would do anything to get over on them or even hurt them sometimes...but when someone else tries...they become YOUR territory that is being threatened...you should defend your territory. This was Jeanie's knee-jerk reaction.

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The basis for Jeanie not giving up Ferris is quite simple, if maybe 2-part: You have a person in your group not well liked and it shows. Some outside your group wants to abuse that person. It becomes territorial. "He maybe a jerk, but he's our jerk". Mixed in with that a bit of the enemy of my enemy is my friend. Basic? No doubt. Simple? Yes indeed, as are most truths in life.

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I thought the motivation to switch to Ferris' side was pretty clear. Her mind was changed while she was in the police station chatting with the cool and laid back character played by Charlie Sheen (see it here). He professes a philosophy of live and let live and tells her that she is the problem—not Ferris. She rejects the advice several times, but eventually embraces it when she falls for Sheen's character.

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+1 I was reading through the other answers and was about to write something like this! Jeanie has changed after her encounter in the police station! –  AidanO May 22 '13 at 14:30
    
+1 Yes, it's so obvious that this is what's actually going on. It's the whole point of the scene! Jeanie was motivated out of spite, feeling angry because of what she felt she didn't have. Charlie Sheen convinces her that she should focus on herself, not worry about her brother, and let go of her spite. She almost doesn't, but when it comes down to it she realizes Sheen was right: So she covers for Ferris when it matters most. It's got nothing to do with "territory". –  Django Reinhardt Sep 26 '13 at 12:46

She found Rooney's wallet in the kitchen and realized he was the reason she was so scared and wound up at the police so revenge against Rooney overcame her need to get her brother. After all she could always get Ferris another day. ;)

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