Justifying the Outlaw and the end Consequences
The two films Thelma and Louise and Set it Off both justify outlaw status as means of taking back what society has taken from them, and give the women in these films a sense of agency and authority over a situation they otherwise would have been powerless against. In Thelma and Louise the women take action asserting their power by threatening and ultimately killing the man who assaults Louise. Without the gun and the help of Thelma, Louise would have certainly been raped, and it is quite possible the rapist could escape unpunished for his actions. As the women step outside of the law they begin to free themselves from the traps of society and hierarchical order within their own homes, in which the men dominate and regain a sense of control over their own lives. This sense of freedom is ironically achieved by the women stepping outside of the law. In Set if Off, there is a similar desire felt by the women to take control over their own lives and free themselves from the binds that hold them back from realizing their true potential, whether it be the men in their lives or their lack of money and education, or their encounters with racism and prejudice, they yearn for freedom, and find it through becoming outlaws, and assert their power by going against all social conventions.
By the end of each film however, all characters have paid a price for their actions. Thelma and Louise had no way out, and instead of getting caught, they took their own lives, perhaps a symbol of their desire to remain free and have the power to take their lives into their own hands. Hand they been caught and jailed, they would have had to listen and follow the rules of authority, which is exactly what they were trying to escape. The women of Set if Off clearly pay the price for their rebellious ways, as three of the four women sacrifice their own lives rather than succumb to the authorities. However, both films have a sense of hope and redemption at the end, with Thelma and Louise blissfully driving off the cliff, the viewer gets the sense that they will be happier and better in whatever follows death than the lives they were living. Meanwhile, in Set if Off, Stony escapes, and though she has nobody left in her life, she does have her life, and the financial means to start over and make a new life for herself. Clearly, in both films the women pay the price for their deviant behavior, however, both films end with the notion of the open road, with freedom ahead to a life unknown, but a life of their choosing that will certainly be better than the lives they were living.