Response to What’s Eating Gilbert Grape

582 Words3 Pages
The dysfunction in the Grape family, the different ages of the children growing up in that environment, their individual temperaments that determine their course of actions and reactions to the situations they face in life, and role they place in each other’s lives and society, make What’s Eating Gilbert Grape a great movie to study gene environment interactions. The father has committed suicide and the mother has become morbidly obese not being able to handle the shock. The role of the caregivers is clearly reversed in the Grape household. The children end up taking care of the parents and also fill in that role for Arnie, whose mental disability makes him needy of extra attention and care. Amy is the motherly figure taking care of mom and the household work, while Gilbert has become the main support for his family. Although Ellen is a typical teenager, expressing frustrations and anger, she too adapts to a role of authority when interacting with Arnie. This niche picking seems to have come naturally. However, after taking into account the environment each of these individual grew up, the distinctions between what first seems like a shared environment, become apparent. Amy and Gilbert had a father and a mother fulfilling their roles to some extent, for a much longer time, when they were children, than Ellen ever did. The age and therefore the phase of development they were in when their father committed suicide or their mother became dysfunctional were different. Therefore their perspective taking and reactions to life events also differed. The fact that they lived in a small town also affected how they developed. For example, seeing a morbidly obese woman would hardly be as much of a spectacle in big and busy city like New York. This certainly would affect how the mother viewed herself, and interacted with society. Thus the role of environment in development is

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