Gilbert Grape

Essay by EssaySwap ContributorHigh School, 11th grade February 2008

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What is eating Glibert Grape? Endora, it?s the type of town you love to hate. Small, nothing to do, no where to go and worst of all, it?s wedged right in the middle of nowhere. Nothing interesting barely ever happens in this town, and it?s just the same old routine for everyone there. Most don?t realise they?re trapped, that their life would never change. There is one man who does however, and he dreams of life being so much more than it is. His name is Gilbert, the individual living in Endora with his Mum, Bonnie, two sisters, Amy and Ellen, and brother, Arnie.

Directed by Lasse Hallstrom, the movie ?What?s Eating Gilbert Grape?? is a romantic drama revolving around the character Gilbert. It is a film that explores the questions that surround our existence: whom we are, where we are and why we are here. Gilbert is searching for the answers to these questions.

Stuck in Endora, he feels lost and trapped by his circumstances and the responsibilities placed upon him by his family. The greatest of these responsibilities is to care for Arnie, his younger brother who has suffered a mental disability since birth. Arnie is a lot of trouble to look after, for he cannot do anything himself, not to mention having to stay out of mischief. Gilbert has to watch Arnie all day, bath him and even tuck him to sleep. Gilbert feels as if Arnie is all his responsibility, and feels it as a burden at times.

Involved in a relationship with Betty Carver, Gilbert has all the physical enjoyment he could want but is not in a fulfilling relationship. Apart from the threat of Betty's husband finding out about the affair, it is a relationship that is filled with physical passion but lacking in a spiritual connection. If the passion suddenly died, what would be left to continue on with? When Becky enters his life later on however, Gilbert develops a relationship with her. However there are many times that Gilbert has to pull himself away from his own enjoyment and relaxation to look after Arnie. An example is when he is enjoying himself with Becky, but remembers he needs to go give Arnie a bath, and so leaves Becky but returns a while later. Becky is a warm-hearted young woman who doesn?t care about the outer beauty in people and has a great interest in Gilbert.

Mamma Grape is also a rather large responsibility for Gilbert and the household. After the suicide of her husband, Mamma Grape, who was the most beautiful girl in school in her youth, lost her sense of self worth. Due to having nothing to live and strive for she became greatly obese. She hadn?t left the house in seven years, and her children took over the chores of the household: cooking, cleaning, shopping etc. Gilbert feels as if as well as taking care of Arnie, his the man in the house and needs to insure everything is right and in order.

So what truly ?is eating Gilbert Grape?? In my opinion, Gilbert Grape feels as if he has too many responsibilities, and that he should be able to have a life of his own. As he replied to Becky when she asked him what he wanted, he said he wanted a brain for Arnie, and for her Mamma to take aerobic lessons, but he never once said what he wanted for himself. This shows his unselfish nature and how he puts his family in front, which might result in restricting him in doing whatever he wants to do in life. Gilbert feels as if his the one who holds the family together, that he has to be strong all the way, because if he fell apart then there would be no one to look after his family. Mamma Grape is deeply grateful for Gilbert and says to him just moments before she dies: "You're my knight in shimmering armor?shimmering not shining because you glow?. This shows she looks at Gilbert like his her saviour, her saint and helper.

Gilbert is a strong character and at the end of the movie it shows he finds himself and knows where he is in Endora. He has a stable relationship with Becky, while still taking care of Arnie and the rest of his family.