Text title: What’s Eating Gilbert Grape
Author/creator: Lasse Hallström (Director)
Text type: DVD Movie
Method of narration: First Person, Film study
Date of publication: 1993
Summary of Text + Setting
The film What’s Eating Gilbert Grape opens in the small town of Endora, a place where ‘nothing much happens’. There, Gilbert Grape is busy caring for Arnie, his brother with a developmental disability as they wait for the many tourists' trailers to pass through town during their "yearly ritual" of camping at a nearby recreational area. His mother, Bonnie is morbidly overweight, after years of depression following her husband's suicide. With Bonnie unable to care for the children by herself, Gilbert has taken responsibility for repairing their old farmhouse and looking after Arnie, who has a habit of climbing the town water tower if he is left unsupervised for too long, while his sisters Amy and Ellen do the chores and the cooking. The relationship between the brothers is of both care and protection, as Gilbert continually enforces the "Nobody touches Arnie" policy. Gilbert works in the small Lamson’s Grocery store. In addition, Gilbert is having an affair with a married woman, Betty Carver. However, Betty later leaves the town after his husband’s death. While the family is preparing for Arnie's 18th birthday party, a young woman named Becky and her grandmother are stuck in town when their trailer in tow breaks down. Gilbert falls in love with Becky, but gets problems when he tries to find time for his own private life.
What are the main themes in the text?
The main themes in the film are: dysfunctional families, mental disabilities and the need for understanding, and coping with life. The main literary theme is man vs. man/man vs. himself.
Gilbert Grape has a dysfunctional family in which the children, especially the oldest boy, Gilbert, compensate by doing many of the mother's chores due to her...