Essay about how discrimination affects entire families with reference to the novel, "What's Eating Gilbert Grape"

Essay by the_undertaker5High School, 10th gradeA, December 2006

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Food addictions leading to obesity produce shame, embarrassment and devastation for entire families, as well as for the individual addict. This is clearly exemplified in the novel, What's Eating Gilbert Grape. In this novel, Gilbert and his siblings suffer greatly due to their mother's obesity and the fear of discrimination from the people of the small town in which they live.

In my opinion, the way in which overweight people are treated in our society is appalling. There are a number of widespread myths which lead to ridicule of obese people. One myth about fat people is that they don't bathe and they smell bad. A number of other myths associated with overweight people are that they are dirty, they are lazy, and they will eat anything. Because of these myths, obese people might feel that they are viewed as second-class citizens and are not treated with the same respect as thin people.

This discrimination makes the obesity worse as the sufferer eats more to compensate for emotional pain and often becomes more of a recluse out of fear of being seen, just as Gilbert's mother, Bonnie, does in the novel.

Bonnie Grape is referred to in the book by Gilbert as having once been the "toast of Endora", the small town in which the Grape family lives. She was skinny and popular until her husband committed suicide seven years prior. This sent her spiralling into depression and she stopped leaving the house. She also stopped doing exercise and having fun. The one thing she didn't stop doing was eating. Gilbert describes his view of his mother in this quote: "My mother is a porker. She started eating in excess the day our dad was found dead seventeen years ago." (pg. 11, par. 20) As she ate she became...