“I would hope that people might view their fellow beings, all beings, with more empathy, more compassion, with a desire to understand. Even if they can’t know why people are the way they are, to understand that they’re probably that way for a good reason.”
– screenwriter and author of the book “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape,” Peter Hedges.
Gilbert Grape lives in a town called Endora in Iowa, USA. He is in his early 20s and has many more responsibilities than most men his age. His father’s death has left Gilbert as the man of the house. Gilbert’s mother, once thin and beautiful, is now over 500 pounds and won’t leave the house. Ellen and Amy are Gilbert’s sisters and they also have to play their part in running the household. Arnie, his intellectually disabled brother is about to turn 18 and have a big party.
Gilbert feels trapped. He is trapped in the small town, trapped in his responsibilities and trapped in his own inabilities to change what happens around him. He is a passive character. Gilbert is having an affair with a married woman, Mrs Carver, not out of love for her but due to the emotional void in his life.
All this changes when free spirit Becky arrives in town with her Grandmother. They are driving through in their mobile home which breaks down. Becky is a breath of fresh air for Gilbert and she seems to represent the world that seems beyond his reach. What will happen when she shows him the possibilities in the world?