Juno Summary and Analysis of Part 2: Mark & Vanessa


Juno goes to Leah’s house. Leah is surprised to see her, as she thought that Juno was getting an abortion. “Couldn’t do it, Leah,” Juno says, rattling off a list of off-putting things about the clinic before telling Leah that Su-Chin was there and told her that babies have fingernails. Leah makes a joke about the baby scratching her vagina on the way out, and when Juno tells her she’s “staying pregnant,” Leah urges her to keep her voice down in case her mom is listening. Juno confides in Leah that she wants to have the baby and then give it up for adoption, but Leah is mortified at the thought of Juno having to tell the whole school that she’s pregnant. Leah is suddenly struck with an idea, that Juno should look at the adoption advertisements in the paper to find a family to adopt her baby.

We see Leah and Juno reading the advertisements for parents looking to adopt. Leah reads some out loud, and Juno describes why she doesn’t like the sounds of any of them. When Leah finds an advertisement for a couple called Mark and Vanessa, Juno takes it seriously, looking at their smiling picture in the ad. “They were beautiful even in black and white,” Juno narrates in voiceover. The scene shifts and we see Bleeker looking at the note that Juno wrote in his yearbook. His mom enters his room and asks if he’s coming downstairs to eat. He declines, even though his mother reminds him that he ran 8 miles that day. She then tells Bleeker that Juno called, adding, “You know how I feel about her…she’s just…different.”

In Juno’s living room, Leah, Juno’s father, and Bren watch Juno pace around the room anxiously. After a few moments of stalling, Leah tells her to just go ahead and tell her parents. “I’m pregnant,” Juno says, before informing them that she’s already found a couple to adopt the baby and that they will pay for the medical expenses. Juno’s father looks shocked and Bren says, “I didn’t even know you were sexually active.” When Juno tells them that the father is Paulie Bleeker, her dad looks skeptical, and he says, “I didn’t know he had it in him.” “I know right?!” agrees Leah. She tells them that she’s going to meet with the couple that’s going to adopt the baby the following week. Bren asks if she has considered abortion, and Juno tells her that she doesn’t want to do it. Realizing that Juno is going to go through with the pregnancy, Bren starts making a list of what they have to do, and Juno’s dad tells her he’s going to come with her to meet the adoptive family. He then says, “I thought you were the kind of girl who knew when to say when,” and Juno replies, sadly, “I don’t really know what kind of girl I am.” She and Leah go upstairs. Left alone, Bren and Juno’s dad commiserate about Juno’s mistake, affectionately.

The scene shifts and we see Vanessa, the adoptive mother, arranging her house in anticipation of Juno’s arrival. Juno drives with her dad into Mark and Vanessa’s subdivision, filled with houses that all look very similar. They walk up to the front door and Vanessa answers it, smiling wide. As Vanessa takes their coats, Juno compliments the couple’s photograph in the advertisement, which seems to make Vanessa uncomfortable. Mark, her husband, comes down the stairs and introduces himself. They then move into the living room, where Vanessa introduces Juno and her father to Gerta Rauss, their lawyer. When Vanessa asks if they want anything to drink, Juno jokes that she wants a glass of whiskey, but Vanessa cannot quite tell that she’s joking. Awkwardly, Juno’s dad tells them, “Juno has a wonderful sense of humor. Just one of her many genetic gifts.” Vanessa sits and Gerta asks about the details of her pregnancy. Juno tells her that she’s 12 weeks into the pregnancy and that she’s due on May 4th.

Vanessa gushes about the beauty of pregnancy, but Juno is nonplused with her experience so far, making jokes and at one point saying, “You’re lucky it’s not you,” which makes Vanessa smile sadly. Gerta tells Juno that Mark and Vanessa are interested in having an “open adoption” in which they keep Juno updated on the baby throughout its life. Juno does not want this, and says that she would rather just send the baby on its way without any future communication. Having decided on a closed adoption, Vanessa asks if—beyond the medical expenses—Juno wants any “further compensation” for her child. Juno looks at her skeptically and replies, “I don’t want to sell the thing. I just want the baby to be with people who are going to love it and be good parents. I mean, I’m in high school, dude. I’m ill-equipped.” Vanessa is grateful and tells Juno, “I was born to be a mother” and that she’s wanted a child since she got married to Mark. Juno turns to Mark and asks him how he’s feeling about being a father. He seems less enthusiastic, but assures her that he too wants a child.

Vanessa invites Gerta to take them through some paperwork, but before, Juno asks to use the bathroom. She excuses herself and goes upstairs, walking past some cheesy staged photos of Vanessa and Mark. In the bathroom, she examines Vanessa’s creams and skin products, even spraying some perfume on her wrists. On her way out, she runs into Mark, and asks him if Vanessa sent him up to spy on her. “Do we seem like paranoid yuppies?” he asks. (They do). They begin to walk back downstairs when Juno notices a room with an electric guitar. She goes to investigate the room, which is filled with guitars and other vestiges of Mark’s punk rock past. He mentions that he used to be in a fairly successful punk band as Juno examines his guitars. They playfully argue about the “best time for rock and roll.”

Downstairs, Juno's dad, Vanessa, and Gerta wait awkwardly for the two of them to return. As they make forced small talk about Vanessa’s Pilates machine, they hear the sound of Mark singing and playing the guitar upstairs. Vanessa excuses herself and goes to check on them. She finds them in the music room playing a song together. Vanessa is tense and reminds them that Gerta is downstairs and they have to go over the paperwork.

Juno and her dad say their goodbyes. “Do you think you’re really gonna do it?” Vanessa asks, excitedly, and Juno tells them that she likes them and is completely sure that she wants to give them the baby. Vanessa looks like she’s on the verge of tears as they go out the front door, and she hugs Mark.


The film maintains its light touch in its portrayal of Juno’s parents’ response to the news of her pregnancy. While the expectation is that they will take it very badly, potentially getting angry with Juno for her indiscretion, they are only vaguely shocked, and take on alternately mystified and affectionate attitudes over the course of the conversation. One of the first things that Juno’s father asks her is who the father is, and when she tells him that it’s Bleeker, he wryly says, “I didn’t think he had it in him.” Then later, after the conversation, Bren says that she was hoping that it was “expulsion or hard drugs” rather than a pregnancy. This glibness gives the film a breezy quality, which never allows it to dip into maudlinness or tragedy in spite of its heavier subject matter. It also serves to show that Juno has a pragmatic and loving family, that they are ready to show up and support her in her difficult time without getting too inordinately angry with her.

In contrast with Juno’s more unseemly and messier existence, Mark and Vanessa, the parents who agree to adopt her baby, are wealthy yuppies who want to do everything right. The contrast between Juno and the preppy couple creates many comic scenarios. Vanessa, clearly a high-strung woman, offers them something to drink, and Juno jokes that she would like a glass of bourbon. Vanessa doesn’t realize that Juno is making a joke and looks at her vacantly. Then later, when they propose that the adoption be “open” and that Juno be involved in the baby’s life, Juno insists, “Can't we just, like, kick this old school? Like, I have the baby, put it in a basket and send it your way, like, Moses and the reeds?” Juno’s casual attitude is almost the complete opposite of Vanessa’s more uptight and buttoned-up approach.

Indeed, Juno and Vanessa are not foils for one another simply because of the contrast between their communication styles, but also because of their vastly different relationships to motherhood. While Juno is apparently very fertile and able to bear a child, she doesn’t have any interest in being a mother, and doesn’t particularly want to be involved in its life. Contrastingly, Vanessa is unable to conceive a child herself, but craves motherhood with a special passion. She tells Juno and her father, “I was born to be a mother. Some of us are.” As different as Vanessa and Juno may be, they are also perfect for each other in that they each can help each other in important ways.

For all of her incompatibilities with Vanessa, Juno has a surprising amount of qualities in common with Mark. While Mark is implicated in Vanessa’s yuppie suburban lifestyle, he seems to enjoy Juno’s sharp wit and they share a love for rock guitars. As Juno notes, Vanessa has him on a “long leash,” giving him only one room in their whole house in which to keep his stuff. Indeed, Mark might be wearing a royal blue sweater and khakis, but he is anxious to tell Juno about his past life as a totally hardcore rocker, and she loves to hear him tell it. The connection between the two of them only makes it all the more clear that Juno has found a good match for an adoptive family, but it also complicates the dynamic with Vanessa, who cannot penetrate the shared interests and compatibilities between the quirky mother of their adopted child and her ex-rocker husband.

Juno is an exceptionally self-accepting and unusual central character. Her quirkiness is not put on or pretentious, and her knowing wit pervades everything she does, often making her feel more like a sarcastic old man than a wayward teenaged girl. The complexity of her character, her unapologetic acceptance of herself, and her humor, all make Juno an especially compelling protagonist. She is the kind of character who does not tolerate pretentiousness in others, and as a result, she is refreshingly honest and straightforward in every step of her unusual journey. She approaches the issue of her unwanted pregnancy with an appropriate amount of gravity and thoughtfulness, yet she does not seem to feel any shame or ambivalence about it once she decides to bring the baby to term. She may not always make the appropriate joke at the appropriate time, but her nonjudgmental and candid attitude about her pregnancy lend her a striking integrity. She is heroic in her idiosyncratic worldview and her dogged determination to be herself, even if being herself alienates or separates her from other kids her age.