Symbolism in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape Do you ever feel like you are falling? Like you are dreaming about falling and when you do fall you wake up? But it’s not a dream and you actually are falling? The Grape family lives in Endora, Iowa they are a far from normal family who are struggling through life ever since their father committed suicide. Gilbert Grape is the main character he is 24 years old. He brings in an income and takes care of the family. At home he has his older sister Amy who is 34 and takes care of their mother who is unable to move. They struggle with their sixteen year old sister, who hooked on makeup, boys, and getting attention. But they are most worried about their brother Arnie who is 17 year old and is mentally ill. Throughout the novel What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, Peter Hedges uses symbolism to better explain the hardships that the Grapes go through in order to portray the catastrophes that people have to endure in their everyday lives. Peter Hedges uses their fathers suicide and the structure of the house to symbolize how their life is being pulled down by their father. In the beginning of the novel Gilbert is taking his brother to look at the carnival rides drive in the lot for the carnival, like they do every year. They are having a picnic and enjoying their time but it the rides had been taking longer than they normally do. Arnie begins to grow impatient and expects the worst, “‘Gilbert! They’re not coming!’ I tell him to stop shouting.