Write a 1-2 page essay that explores the paradox that when the film ends, Gilbert is in
exactly the same place as when it began, yet he has traveled a long way.
What’s eating Gilbert Grape is a very simple yet meaningful movie. There is no clear cut
message that points out the faults of society and it may be hard to interpret a message
because the movie is set around everyday life. However the one thing that is clear, is that
Gilbert realises throughout the movie that his life is going nowhere and he must break the
everyday routine. Gilbert sees through the people he calls his friends and realises that they
influence his decisions to stay. He sees how they fill their days with hope and talk of
something new and small town gossip to create interest and controversy. Due to the fact
that he has already broken the routine everyday life by looking for a way out, Gilbert will
never be in exactly the same place again.
During the story Gilbert is reminded of his situation when Arnie repeatedly cries “where
not going anywhere”. Arnie is basically speaking the words which Gilbert has pressed
deep down inside himself and is afraid to admit. Later on in the movie he is reminded
directly by Mrs. Carver, after he asked why she chose him out of all the men in Endora.
She replies "because I knew you'd never leave." She is telling Gilbert in a very straight
forward way that even she believes out of everyone in the town, Gilbert will be the least
likely to leave. Fortunately for Gilbert he uses these observations as inspiration to move
on and leave Endora....