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Whats Eating Gilbert Grape

Essay by   •  November 3, 2010  •  457 Words (2 Pages)  •  1,720 Views

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Gilbert Grape (Johnny Depp) inherits the role of man-of-the-house from his father and now his bedridden mother, bratty and selfish sister, and mentally handicapped younger brother, Arnie (Leonardo DiCaprio), as well as the grocery store where he works and the attention-starved married woman he's having a fling with, all depend on him for support. Everyday it's something ... either his brother has climbed up the water tower again or the grocery store where he works is losing business to the brand-new supermarket in town. When a young girl, Becky (Juliette Lewis), passes through town because of camper trouble, however, Gilbert sees in her a means of escape from his life.

Throughout the rest of the movie, Gilbert finally discovers a goal: to win Becky's heart and to make a life with her instead of coping with the one he's been handed. When Becky and her mother ask him to fix their broken camper, he goes as far as to make sure it stays broken, so that Becky can stay with him. As a result, Becky sticks around to give Gilbert a new, uplifting perspective on life, to develop a patient, endearing bond with Arnie and to eventually accept Gilbert's morbidly-obese and bedridden mother.

The central focuses of the story are Gilbert's relationships with Arnie, Becky, his mother, and his father, who took a different approach to the life Gilbert is currently living, by killing himself in the basement. Throughout the movie hangs the memory of him; Gilbert refers to him as the member of their family that "got away."

Arnie seems to personify the concept of a dysfunctional family and Gilbert speaks for all of us when one day he's just too tired and distracted to stay and give him a bath. Instead, he tells Arnie that he's a big boy and that he can give himself a bath. Gilbert leaves home to see Becky, only to come back the next morning to find Arnie still in the bathtub.




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