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The Graduate

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Andrea Barba

Lisa Spears

ENGL 1601

September 13, 2017

The Graduate

In The Graduate the narrator uses an objective point of view throughout the movie in efforts to let the audience establish their own opinions and use the cues to take note of their own perspective of the going-ons in the story. In doing this, we as the audience establish our own thoughts, interpret things, and the characters in specific ways. For example, I believe after reading the story and having seen the film, that Benjamin is lost and he can’t seem to find his way. The reality is that he seems to be truly unhappy and appears to not have any direction in his life presently or for the future. This ultimately leads into getting himself into troubled situations almost as a way to pass time; being rude, running away on his road trip, the affair he has with the wife of one of his father’s colleagues, Mrs. Robinson and the whole situation with Elaine.

The novel starts with short sentences and phrases stating that Ben flew home after graduating to a party where he meets and greets with his parent’s friends and is very quick and abrupt with the guests; I believe it is in effort to appear irritated and short with his parents and with their guests. Benjamin feels lost and seems to be confused with how his life ended up where it is, he goes as far as saying to his dad, “The whole four years,” he said, looking up at his father. “They were nothing. All the things I did are nothing. All the distinctions. The things I learned. All of a sudden none of it seems to be worth anything to me. (Webb Part 1 Chapter 1)” This gives a pretty good sense of the tone that was being set early on. The short sentences also help establish a tone that Benjamin is feeling hostile and not in the mood to talk about his future, or anything for that matter. He doesn’t want to hear how proud everyone is or be on display like a show pony, it seems to add fuel the fire.

It seems as if the narrator wants us to connect with Benjamin and feel sympathetic towards him. There are times where I find it difficult to follow this path. Many of the characters have great, supportive things to say about Ben. He’s referred to as the “editor of the school paper,” a “track star,” a “ladies’ man,” a “Frank Helpingham Award Scholar” at various times throughout the first part of the movie. Alternately, it seems like he’s doing very little to live up to the praise. In fact, when Ben is reluctant to show off his new birthday present, his dad tells him he is disappointing them. Benjamin seems to want to keep being a wet blanket so to speak.

While with all the other characters in the short story the narrator is objective with Mrs. Robinson’s character the narrator is not, she is portrayed to be the villain of the story. She takes advantage of the situation with Benjamin, she can observe that he is lost and confused with his path in life and unlike a lot of the other characters she doesn’t provide guidance, she exploits his insecurities. When he drives her home, Benjamin tells her that she is lost and she continues to try to seduce him, although she denies it.

Additionally, quite a few of the characters in The Graduate feel it is their place to push Ben into make choices: to have an affair or not, to choose whether he’s going to grad school, to decide if he is going to teach, and to establish or not he’ll be taking out Elaine. Even with all this unwanted guidance, the choices that Ben makes don’t seem to be particularly well thought out, or the smartest of moves. The audience is even shown various times by character’s reactions to Benjamin’s choices, like when Mr. Braddock learns of Ben’s decision to marry Elaine, he tells Ben “this idea sounds kind of half-baked (Webb Part 3 Chapter 6)”. While no one out right tells Ben to get his life together we see him shown as careless and with no interest in his life and future.



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