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What is Eating Gilbert Grape Essay

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Updated: Dec 22nd, 2019

Introduction

Lasse Hallstrom directed the film “What’s eating Gilbert Grape” in 1993. The film revolves around the experiences of the narrator, Gilbert. In the film, Gilbert Grape tells the audience about his town and family. Gilbert has two brothers and two sisters, who live with their obese mother in a depressed town called Endora. Their father is absent since he hanged himself in the basement with no reason.

The film revolves around Gilbert’s character who seeks to escape from his dull and dissatisfying routine, and his shift in attitude as the plot develops. Based on the actions of Gilbert, the audience identifies that what is “eating him” is the dilemma of how to balance his desires with the needs of his family.

Character of Gilbert

Gilbert is portrayed as a kind and selfless person who has no escape to the boredom of his everyday life. Although Gilbert is a young man, he has numerous burdens including his residence in an isolated and dying town, a father who killed himself, a large mother who is reliant in him, his boring job in a slow business and his annoying sisters.

In addition to this, he is required to give his retarded brother consistent care, and his affair with Betty does not appear to be making any progress. Gilbert’s troubles seem to persist until he meets Becky, who opens his eyes to the outside world.

Themes

The film has many themes, but the main ones include responsibility, desire for freedom, caring for others and frustration with ordinary life. Gilbert exhibits the desire for freedom the most since he intends to escape Endora and all the burdens that are associated with that town. It is in his pursuit of freedom that Gilbert meets Becky; a symbol of the freedom that Gilbert desires.

The theme of responsibility is evident when Gilbert assumes the role of breadwinner and caretaker of the family after the death of his father. He is faced with a great challenge between fulfilling his obligation to the family and meeting his personal needs.

Relationship between Gilbert and Arnie

From the beginning of the film, the audience identifies a love/hate relationship between Gilbert and his brother. Gilbert cares for his brother as is seen when he urges his brother to climb down the water tower, or the tree that is next to their house. However, he admits that things would be better for him if his brother was dead.

These scenes present the audience with a mixture of emotions that portray Gilbert’s protective and harmful nature. The freedom represented by Becky ‘eats up’ Gilbert as he abandons his brother in the hope that he can care for himself.

Gilbert hopes to free himself from numerous responsibilities that are represented by Arnie, but becomes frustrated when his brother ends up in trouble and proves him wrong. As a result, he faced with the challenge of balancing his two lives.

Relationship between Gilbert and his mother

Gilbert shows frustration with his mother due to her transformation from a pretty girl to an obese woman who was capable of harming her family. This is seen when Gilbert calls out to her to stop hugging Arnie after an incident involving the water tower.

Gilbert also distances himself from Momma when he shows Becky the family house from a far point, claiming that they cannot get closer to it because Momma is “…attached to the house…more like wedged in”.

Gilbert sees Momma in a new light when she gets out of the house after seven years to rescue Arnie when he gets arrested. He defends her mother from the mockery of outsiders, even after her death, when he chooses to cremate her in the family house rather than ridicule the family while they remove her body from the house.

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IvyPanda. (2019, December 22). What is Eating Gilbert Grape. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/what-is-eating-gilbert-grape/

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"What is Eating Gilbert Grape." IvyPanda, 22 Dec. 2019, ivypanda.com/essays/what-is-eating-gilbert-grape/.

1. IvyPanda. "What is Eating Gilbert Grape." December 22, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/what-is-eating-gilbert-grape/.


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IvyPanda. "What is Eating Gilbert Grape." December 22, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/what-is-eating-gilbert-grape/.

References

IvyPanda. 2019. "What is Eating Gilbert Grape." December 22, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/what-is-eating-gilbert-grape/.

References

IvyPanda. (2019) 'What is Eating Gilbert Grape'. 22 December.

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