Gilbert Grape Essay, Research Paper
What’s Eating Gilbert Grape portrays a family that is dealing with the trials, tribulations, and also great times of having a member with a disability. The Grape family consists of Gilbert, Ellen, Amy, Mama, and of course, Arnie. The Grape family lives in an isolated town of Endora in a house that seems to be in shambles since their father died. In the beginning, Gilbert’s voiceover states that “living in Endora is like dancing to no music,” which one can definitely relate to after viewing this touching film. Gilbert Grape is a young man that has been impeded by more burdens than any man ought to have in an entire lifetime. He stocks shelves and delivers groceries for a local store, Lamson’s Grocery, whose business has been deserted by the new supermarket in town. The movie begins with the “yearly ritual” of Gilbert and Arnie watching the caravans that pass along the road. Gilbert’s adversity seems to have started when his father hung himself seventeen years ago in their basement, which in turn drove his mother to obesity and a life confined to only their home. His mother has become a “burden” on him and he feels ashamed and humiliated by her. Gilbert even regards to his mother as “a beached whale,” and at one point lifts a young boy to the window to experience the sight of her. Gilbert’s mother is not his only complication; he is having an aimless affair with a frustrated housewife, Betty Carver, whose rash sexual demands have placed much apprehension on him. Gilbert’s brother Arnie, who is mentally challenged, needs constant supervision, which places many ongoing responsibilities on Gilbert, as well. His oldest sister, Amy, is a very caring woman that tries to take on many responsibilities herself and the youngest sister Ellen, who is only fifteen, has many issues with her family that she is trying to overcome, as well. Becky, a young girl that traveled into town with her grandmother and their caravan found romance with Gilbert and a certain connection with Arnie accordingly. Arnie is not your average boy; he is mentally challenged and was not expected to live to see his tenth birthday, let alone, his eighteenth, which he surpasses in the movie. Arnie is associated with many heights in the movie as he is regularly seen dangling from the roof, climbing trees, and of course, his ritual of scaling the water tower. Although Arnie loves the heights, he can not seem to conquer the depths as he will not venture to the basement of the house. “I don’t want to go down there, Gilbert; Dad’s down there,” thus voicing the repressed fear that no one in the family will, or can put into words. Arnie’s water tower escapades are a source of great aggravation to the police, yet are greeted by the locals with an understanding of occasion and courteous applause when his feet are firmly planted back on the ground. Arnie obtains a fear of water when Gilbert abandons him in the bathtub for the night, and does not over come his apprehension until he flees to Becky after a fight he had with Gilbert.
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