In the movie, What's Eating Gilbert Grape, Endora, Iowa is home to the Grape family: mother Bonnie hasn't left her home in seven years, since the suicide of her husband; she has become morbidly obese and spends most of her time on the living room couch in front of the television; sister Ellen ; sister Amy; and mentally retarted Arnie Grape who, as the film opens, is preparing to celebrate his 18th birthday. Arnie is developmentally disabled.
Gilbert Grape is a young man that has been impeded by more burdens than any man ought to have in an entire lifetime. He stocks shelves and delivers groceries for a local store, Lamson's Grocery, whose business has been deserted by the new supermarket in town. The movie begins with the "yearly ritual" of Gilbert and Arnie watching the caravans that pass along the road. Gilbert's adversity seems to have started when his father hung himself seventeen years ago in their basement, which in turn drove his mother to obesity and a life confined to only their home. His mother has become a "burden" on him and he feels ashamed and humiliated by her. Gilbert even regards to his mother as "a beached whale," and at one point lifts a young boy to the window to experience the sight of her. One afternoon a silver camper had engine trouble, forcing them to stay in town for a few weeks until it is fixed. During that time Gilbert has fallen in love with the girl in the trailer, played by Juliette Lewis. Gilbert becomes very irresponsible when it comes to his slow brother. He once left Arnie(Johnny Depp) in the bath tub all night because he wanted to go visit the girl. Arnie was then terrified of the water and refused to go back on ever again. Another time was when Gilbert was in a deep conversation with the girl (Ellen), and did not notice Arnie disappear. He ended -up climbing to the top of the water tower and not coming down until the firefighters carried him down. Their mother was very upset with Gilbert and