Between the beginning of the film, What’s eating Gilbert Grape and the end Gilbert changes in more than one way. These changes come about mainly because he meets a girl by the name of Becky. She helps him to see things differently and think about himself rather then always thinking about others. Although Becky changed Gilbert a lot, there were other things that effected Gilbert. For example, his Momma dying and Mrs. Carver leaving.
In the Grape family it is quite obvious that the eldest male must assume a leading role that can be very stressful and time consuming. Gilberts father could not handle the pressures and decided to end his life, leaving the leading role to Gilberts elder brother. He also did not want to live with these stresses and left his family and the town of Endora. Gilbert proves to be stronger than that of his brother and father and stays, bearing many responsibilities. These included looking after Arnie, a 17 year old who has autism, and is very difficult to care for. His Mum, an extremely obese person who rarely even gets out of the chair and Mrs. Carver, a middle-aged woman who is bored with her husband, and wants an affair with Gilbert.
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Generally Gilbert takes care of many people, making sure that they are happy. All of these responsibilities could be said to ‘trap’ or ‘enslave’ Gilbert, meaning that he has no time to do things that he might enjoy doing.
Possibly one of the best things that happened to Gilbert was when Becky came into his life. After her Grandmothers car broke down Becky and her Grandmother were forced to stay in Endora until they could get it fixed. It did not take long before Gilbert started talking to her. Gilbert and Becky had many deep and meaningful conversations, but most of those conversations were of Becky trying to get Gilbert to understand that he can want things for himself. Becky helped Gilbert to stop thinking that he had to care for everyone; once he understood this he began thinking in a whole new way.
Gilbert had been having an affair with Mrs. Carver for quite a while. Even though he was not happy in this relationship he stayed with her, keeping her happy. After Mr. Carver’s death occurred, Gilbert found out that Mrs. Carver had decided to leave. Although he was kind of sad to hear this news, he was glad because it meant that he did not have to be a part of that relationship anymore. With this burden now gone he was able to spend more time with Becky whom he really did love.
Emotionally the biggest event that happened to Gilbert was when his mother Bonnie died. Although Gilbert wasn’t that close to her he realized how much he loved her once she was gone. To avoid causing his mother embarrassment by everyone seeing her being brought out from the house by a crane, because of her obesity, Gilbert decides that they are all going to burn down the house with Bonnie inside. This is an extremely emotional time for them all. Despite the sadness and other feelings, for Gilbert it symbolizes a new start because two of his main burdens are now gone, and he no longer has to try and keep a house that is about to fall over, standing.
Now that there is no reason to stay in Endora Amy and Ellen, Gilberts sisters, decide to leave. Amy manages to get a job at a bakery somewhere, while Ellen continues her education at a different school. So, with just Arnie and Gilbert they both decide to join up with Becky and her Grandmother and travel around the country with the other campers who move from park to park. By doing this it was like a new beginning for Gilbert as he left behind all the pressures and his former life in Endora.
Although the film begins and ends with Gilbert and Arnie waiting for the campers, Gilbert is very changed by the end. He is not only a happier person but his whole view on life has changed greatly. He has gone from always thinking about what other people want to wanting things for himself. These changes occurred when events such as Becky arrival and his mother’s death happened. Gilbert has gone through a lot of suffering and stress, but in the end it makes him a better person.
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