What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?
What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (1993) is a film about a family of a single mother and her four children who were living in Podunk, Iowa. The mother is depressed due to the death of her husband who committed suicide in their basement. This is a story about the struggles of a family Bonnie Grape the mother who was has given up on life; Amy the eldest daughter; Gilbert a son who is the second eldest son; Arnie the youngest son who is mentally disabled; and Ellen the youngest girl. Bonnie’s children have assumed complete responsibility for their younger brother Arnie who is developmentally disabled. The children become their own parents, because only one parent who is left. She is surviving the loss of her husband, even though she should have acted as a parent despite the death of her husband. Micro perspective
As stated by Kirst-Ashman and Hull, “Micro skills involve relationship building, the effectual use of verbal and nonverbal behavior, and proficiency in interviewing. They focus on your ability to relate to other individuals and communicate effectively” (2012, p.51). In the movie communication was the last thing the family paid attention to. The Grape family really did not have any effective communication. Their center of communication was their disabled brother Arnie. The children did not make any decisions besides the mother, she was the one who gives final decisions in the house; just basically to make her needs met. Their mother could not do anything on her own. She sits in front of the TV and eats; she has no social interaction, due to her inability to leave the house and her appearance. In The Grape family, there is little consonance, and a lot of condemnation, which occurs between family members; yelling and rolling of the eyes is directed at Gilbert by his sister (Kirst Ashman & Hull, 2012, p.331-333). Mezzo system
Mezzo system deals with small groups, or an organization or community. The Grape family did not have relationship with the neighbors; they did not socialize with anybody besides Gilbert’s girlfriend and his friend who used to help Gilbert fix his house; Gilbert had a job at one of the grocery store. The scene in the movie that showed interaction at the mezzo was when Arnie climbed the water tower, the police and the neighbors came over, and the neighbors did not do anything to help. They stood there watching what happens next. Roles
Gilbert is the father figure, the bread winner, and he becomes the role model of his younger brother Arnie. He took care of his disabled brother, who needed more help and social support. He gave him a bath before he goes to bed, and he carries Arnie on his back after getting out of the pickup truck. There is a time where he left Arnie while taking a bath while he went to meet his girlfriend Becky, thinking that Arnie will finish the bath by himself. Then the next morning he found Arnie still in the tub. Gilbert felt guilty and at the same time his family accused him of negligence. Amy is the second eldest daughter who was doing the house chores, cooking, cleaning and making sure that everybody was fed. Ellen the youngest sister seems to have many issues with her family, she feels ashamed of them. Strength
The Grape family had some strength; they protected their mother from outsiders. They did not want their mother to be a laughing stock. Gilbert never wanted his mother to be a joke to the neighbors and that’s the reason why his siblings and he decided to burn their mother in the house. During Arnie’s 18th birthday the whole family prepared for his birthday, Gilbert bought cake, Amy and Ellen decorated the house. Amy took the responsibilities of her mother and made sure that everything was smooth in the house. As for Gilbert, he was the overall protector and provider of the family. They showed their solidarity when the whole family went to the sheriff’s office for Arnie to be released. Barriers
Barriers to the Grape family were lack of education. The only one who was going to school was their younger sister Ellen, who did not care much about her family. The whole family was isolated from the community, apart from Gilbert and his girlfriend. Another barrier was their mother and Arnie’s health and financial issue; Gilbert and Amy took all the responsibilities; they did not have a life besides taking care of their depressed mother and disable young brother Arnie. Gilbert, Amy and Ellen had to work at a job that pays less in order to pay for food. Rituals and Symbol
The Grape family seems close and sits down together for family meals. Every year Gilbert and Arnie watch the campers drive through the town. The whole family plan Arnie’s birthday party. The Grape’s family house is a symbol. This symbolizes an end to one chapter of their lives and beginning of another; When Gilbert struck a match and the house begins to burn. When Becky came to Gilbert’s life, she seems to have put to Gilbert into thinking about his life and what are his purposes in this world. Becky’s questions were a symbol in the movie. Gilbert becomes a different person after start thinking about what he wants in life. He was able to breakup with the relationship that he had for a married woman. To Gilbert’s life Becky was like a saver. Role of grief
Gilbert is so filled with grief and anger that he takes a sledgehammer to the joist supports he recently installed. Gilbert returns upstairs to his mother’s (2006). What’s eating Gilbert Grape? [Motion picture]. United States: paramount Picture.) At the end of the movie the mother dies and the children burn the house down, Gilbert and his sisters remove articles from the house they want to save, and then Gilbert pours gasoline throughout the house, and up the stairs to their mama’s bedroom. By the acts of children burning the house, it made them undergoing positive change. The family is in the beginning of the healing process. If I was a social worker in this case I would observed their behaviors through home visits and creating note to assess the needs of the family for example for the whole family needs individual therapy , family therapy and also support group. The benefits or goals of individual therapy are to help the each one of the family to understand themselves and be able to communicate or face their own problems. Family therapy helps the family to be able to understand each other better and be able to tackle problems and relationship they have together. Support groups are groups of people sharing certain characteristics that get together to provide one another with emotional sustenance, encourage new coping mechanisms, and allow a strengths-based sharing of issues, concerns and problem… (Kirst Ashman & Hull, 2012, p.99).Support Group help established more confidence, stability and understanding and meaning of their life and at the same time they have mutual experience, strength and hope to find help. System 1 intervention
Bonnie needs help on many fronts. She appears depressed: perhaps a referral for a psychological assessment would be in order. She is morbidly obese and a full health physical is in order. It is possible her overeating is not just a result of her depression, but has become an addiction; this possibility needs to be looked into further. Individual therapy could address strengths, but possibly also incorporate other techniques from different psychodynamic approaches. From example, using an Adlerian approach might be a good choice for Bonnie. Alderian therapy is not bound to one specific set of procedures. Adlerian therapists can pick and choose from a variety of techniques (Corey & Corey, 2011). Therapy Group helps clients who have an identified goal of changing some aspect of their behavior or thinking. The term includes groups where the objective is recovering… (Kirst Ashman & Hull, 2012, p.98). Therapy group would also be a benefit for Bonnie. She has been house bound for over seven years. Beside all the benefits of group therapy, Bonnie could benefit from being around people other than her family. System 2 intervention
The Grape family needs interventions like family roles the children were doing their parental roles. Take the case of Gilbert, Amy and Ellen each need to improve on their personal lives. They did not grow as normal kids instead they were given enormous responsibility. What have they done for themselves? The three only work for mom and Arnie. I did not see any individuality in the Grape family, only working for mom and Arnie. Gilbert could not take care of his personal life, including relationship. The whole Grape family needed individual counseling which will help them create personal goals. The Grape family needs to establish specific goals and state their goals in a manner that both they and the social worker will know understand (Corey & Corey, 2011, 6th Ed, p.166). Another problem that the Grape family needs help is accepting the death of their father. Gilbert feared going to their house’s basement and when he sent Arnie he shouts backs “I am not going Dad is there”. (Hallstrom, L. (Director). (2006). what’s eating Gilbert Grape? (Motion Pictures). The whole family needs help in addressing their grief. It’s important to assess and understand the problem from the perspective of all family members” (Kirst- Ashman & Hull (2012, p.362). Bonny and Arnie need more than counseling; they need biological and psychological help. The best option for the Grape family is to join a support group. References
Hallstrom,L. (Director). (2006). What’s eating Gilbert Grape? [Motion picture]. United States: Paramount Pictures Kirst-Ashman, K.A., Hull, G.A. Jr. (2012). Understanding generalist practice (6rd ed.). Chicago: Brooks-Cole Publishers. Corey, Marianne Schneider & Corey, Gerald (2007). Becoming a helper (6th ed.). Pacific Grove, CA: Thomson-Wadsworth.