What's Eating Gilbert Grape Essay

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Arnie Grape, from What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, is an eighteen year old boy who is developmentally delayed. According to the Center of Disease Control, a developmental disability is caused by impaired mental, physical, and/or learning capacity (Boyle et al. 2011). In a twelve year study, it was found that males had a higher prevalence of disabilities compared to females; low income was also associated with higher prevalence of disability (Boyle et al. 2011).
Developmental disabilities impact different stages of a child’s developmental life. To analyze Arnie’s cognitive delay, it is necessary to determine where he falls under the milestone. This paper will use Jean Piaget’s Cognitive Development theory to map out Arnie’s character.
Piaget
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Arnie looks up to his older brother Gilbert and imitates his words, actions, and body posture. Arnie also constantly repeats what his mother says. For example, his mother tells Arnie “do not disappear on me again”, multiple times throughout the movie. Arnie recalls this statement and imitates it by telling Gilbert not to disappear. Another example of Arnie’s echolalia is when Gilbert sings him a song to help calm Arnie down and off the water tower; Arnie immediately begins to sing the same song and decides to climb down upon hearing the song (What’s Eating Arnie …show more content…
This concept is known as egocentrism, which is a key aspect to the pre-operational stage. There are many examples of Arnie’s self-centered behaviors. When Arnie begins to yell that his father is dead, he is unable to see the distress in his mother’s face; he is unable to understand why someone would be upset about it if he is able to enjoy himself (What’s Eating Arnie Grape). During Mr. Carver’s funeral, Arnie is not able to understand grief nor does he feel empathy; instead he is playing on his father’s tombstone.
Although Arnie has learned animism and realism, he is still very egocentric, which has placed him under the pre-operational stage.
The third stage is the concrete operational stage. This stage occurs between the ages five and twelve years old. The key ideas of this stage is logical and abstract thinking (McLeod, 2015). In this stage, children are able to understand cause and effect relationships, which Arnie is not aware of. The number one example is his constant attempt in climbing the water tower. Arnie does not understand that climbing the tower can harm him and get him in trouble despite all the warnings from the police (What’s Eating Arnie Grape). During this stage, children develop ideas and knowledge from their experience, which is something Arnie cannot

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