Escape In What's Eating Gilbert Grape

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In the novel What’s Eating Gilbert Grape by Peter Hedges, the main character, Gilbert Grape, has romantic relationships with two women, Mrs. Betty Carver and Becky. Mrs. Betty Carver, in her forties, is a married woman. When Gilbert was a senior in high school, Mrs. Carver invited Gilbert over to her house, and over time they began having more intimate relations. This has been developing over the course of six years, and Gilbert is now twenty four years old. Becky is an otherworldly fifteen year old who has moved to Gilbert’s home town of Endora, Iowa for the summer. Gilbert is taken with Becky’s beauty, but Becky wants him to be more emotionally healthy before being involved in a relationship with him. Becky and Mrs. Carver both offer him different prospects in the areas of escape from his unsatisfactory life, love, and healing from his past. In the area of escape, Mrs. Betty Carver provides Gilbert a physical escape from his misery. His family is dysfunctional, and he struggles to find a purpose in life, feeling trapped in…show more content…
Carver and Becky offer different solutions for healing from Gilbert’s past. Mrs. Carver offers no long-term alleviation of the emotional baggage of his father’s suicide that Gilbert carries. She provides temporary escape, but there is no substance behind it, and thus Gilbert is stuck in an emotional rut. Becky, on the other hand, provides a real opportunity for emotional wounds to finally heal. For example, she makes him go to his old elementary school before it is burned down and write good-bye notes in all of the classrooms. By way of explanation for the importance of this, she says “Good-byes are important. You’ve got to learn to say good-bye” (Hedges 152). This, and other examples of her actions to a similar effect, open Gilbert up to a chance for closure and healing that he has never experienced before. Though it is painful for Gilbert initially, the long-term effect will help Gilbert be happier and more emotionally
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