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What's Eating Gilbert Grape Essay

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"What's Eating Gilbert Grape" is about a man named Gilbert Grape. He lives with his somewhat dysfunctional family, made up of his obese mother who hadn't left her house on almost 7 years, his eighteen-to-be brother Arnie, who is most likely has a developmental disability, most likely autism, and his two sisters Ellen and Amy. Ellen is about 15 and Amy who is about 20. It is later discovered that the father hanged himself seventeen years earlier, around when Arnie was born. They live in the very small town of Endora, Iowa in an old, unstable house. Gilbert has to take care of Arnie and make sure he doesn't get into any dangerous situations, because Arnie loves to try climbing the water tower in town. Gilbert is also having an affair with the wife of a life insurance agent, who doesn't seem to suspect a thing. A new girl, Becky appears in town because her truck broke down in town. She meets Gilbert and Arnie and becomes close with them, especially with Gilbert.

This movie was strongly based on mental illness, specifically with Arnie. It was never clarified if he had autism, but that was what it seemed like. He acted extremely childlike, with a small vocabulary and lack of empathy. On his 18th birthday, he is seen playing with children's toys and playing like a six or seven year old might play. Arnie has no sensor when it comes to speaking his mind. He also sometimes repeats what others say right after they do, almost echoing them. When the Grape family was having dinner, Ellen began calling Gilbert "Dad" as a way to mess with him because he scolded her for something. Gilbert became exasperated and yelled out "Dad's dead" and Arnie began yelling the same thing continuously and was also laughing hysterically.

Arnie also has no idea how to take care of himself either. Gilbert wanted to watch the sunset with Becky and quickly put Arnie in the bath and told him he was a big boy and could take a bath all alone and without any help. He leaves him in the bath and goes back to Becky and doesn't return to check on Arnie. The next morning when he wakes up, Gilbert goes to the bathroom to splash water on his face when he sees Arnie still in the now cold water, shivering. This traumatizes Arnie and he refuses to take a bath or get into any water for a few days.

Another incident with Arnie was when he finally reached the top of the water tower when Gilbert wasn't looking. The



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