WEGG Question #18 - Acting Out

by Peter Hedges

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WEGG Question #18 - Acting Out

Unread postby Liz » Thu Apr 19, 2007 8:57 am

What do you think of Gilbert’s acting out (trying to run over Ellen, leaving Tucker with the bill at the restaurant, dropping the watermelon, peeing on Mrs. Brainer’s grave, leaving the cup on the hood of Mr. Carver’s car)?
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Unread postby Gilbert's Girl » Thu Apr 19, 2007 8:59 am

The actions of one who has not grown up. Most of those are quite juvenille acts. I shall have to come back to this one. Actually the peeing on the grave was one of things that I disliked about Gilbert.
I think its was some way of expressing his emotion his suppressed anger, certainly the incident with Ellen was and the peeing on the grave. Not sure I recall the one with Tucker or the cup on Mr Carver's car.

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Unread postby Liz » Thu Apr 19, 2007 9:13 am

Gilbert's Girl wrote:Actually the peeing on the grave was one of things that I disliked about Gilbert.


For me too, until I found out why he did it. The crime fit the punishment, as it were.
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Unread postby Betty Sue » Thu Apr 19, 2007 9:39 am

Yes, they were pretty juvenile, but it was probably good that he let his anger out somewhere...enough already with the bottled up emotions! These actions sent a message; none of them really hurt anyone. Different story, however, with his acting out with Arnie.... :-/
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Unread postby inspired » Thu Apr 19, 2007 9:47 am

As GG said, Gilbert seems to have a lot of suppressed anger and every once in a while he just goes off, like a pressure valve opening up. It appears, to me, that Gilbert uses actions instead of words to express his emotions, and while his actions can sometimes relieve some of the anger and frustration he is feeling, they don't really solve any of his problems. Like many men he prefers the quick fix over the long, sometimes painful process of self examination and communication.

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Unread postby Endora » Thu Apr 19, 2007 9:50 am

Betty Sue wrote:Yes, they were pretty juvenile, but it was probably good that he let his anger out somewhere...enough already with the bottled up emotions! These actions sent a message; none of them really hurt anyone. Different story, however, with his acting out with Arnie.... :-/


Pretty much a harmless way of letting emotions come out on the whole. No worse, say, than eating yourself to death, and a whole world better than what we saw this week happening at the Virginia campus. It's interesting that his one act of real violence, against Arnie, was the thing that shook him so. That part was I thought very realistic in the way it described how a long-term carer can be put under enough stress to eventually break.
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Re: WEGG Question #18 - Acting Out

Unread postby Linda Lee » Thu Apr 19, 2007 10:04 am

These episodes show us Gilbert does have emotions. Ellen has pushed him to the point he responds by pushing back, immature but I don't think he was really trying to run her over - just a brotherly game of chicken.

I think Tucker upset him with the memory of what happened in Mrs. Brainer's class - probably the worst day of Gilbert's life -even though Tucker had it wrong, it brought back the embarassment and horror of the day. Gilbert walked out without thinking of the bill.

Dropping the watermelon was an impulse of frustration and a refusal to play the game further on that day.

Gilbert's Girl wrote:
Actually the peeing on the grave was one of things that I disliked about Gilbert.
Liz wrote:
For me too, until I found out why he did it. The crime fit the punishment, as it were.

I agree.

Possibly leaving the cup on Mr. Carver's car was meant as a message to Mr. Carver that he had been seen.

They also show us Gilbert is still immature.
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Unread postby Iceflower » Thu Apr 19, 2007 10:06 am

It seems to me that Gilbert, hasn't got the chance to talk about what has happened to him through the year. As some of you said he is showing how he feels through acts not words. Maybe he is doing it because he want to move further in life, and to pee on mrs. Brainer's grave or the other things, he feels like he can pass on. But it doesn't help much, he regrat it a while after. he wants to move on from his life.
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Unread postby Liz » Thu Apr 19, 2007 10:12 am

inspired wrote:As GG said, Gilbert seems to have a lot of suppressed anger and every once in a while he just goes off, like a pressure valve opening up. It appears, to me, that Gilbert uses actions instead of words to express his emotions, and while his actions can sometimes relieve some of the anger and frustration he is feeling, they don't really solve any of his problems. Like many men he prefers the quick fix over the long, sometimes painful process of self examination and communication.


True. It was similar to how numerous small temblors can release some of the stress in a fault so as to put off a major earthquake.

Inspired, glad you joined in on the discussion.
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Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Thu Apr 19, 2007 10:43 am

I agree with what you all are saying about it being a way to let off some steam without really giving in to any deep emotion. They were little things he could do to keep himself going without blowing up.
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Unread postby SamIam » Thu Apr 19, 2007 10:47 am

I agree that it was a symbol of immaturity because he hasn't really grown up and his actions certainly showed it. He was fustrated with his life and that's what peeing on Mrs. Brainer's grave showed his fustration with her and that he couldn't get home to save his father. He's fustrated at the world because of how everyone treats him and his family. He didn't mean to leave Tucker with the bill but he didn't think about it. He doesn't think about his actions till well after he's done something but with Arnie after he thought about what he had done he repented.
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Unread postby Parlez » Thu Apr 19, 2007 12:07 pm

Umh...I have to ask: has Gilbert not grown up because the town won't let him?

Anyway, I'm a big believer in the use of the 'symbolic gesture' ~ it's makes the point sooo much better than words can (especially when nobody's listening to you) and it's very satisfying on an internal level. I don't see it as immature at all, though I tend to have a different definition of those labels than others. To me, it's funny, harmless*, and deeply empowering. It's a 'gotcha!' that can't be beat!

I loved it when Gilbert peed on Mrs. Brainer's grave! :disco:

*I don't consider the episode with Arnie as 'acting out' or as a mere 'gesture'. It was inevitable; a long time coming. I agree with Liz that all those years of restraint created a volcano inside Gilbert that had to erupt.
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Unread postby suec » Thu Apr 19, 2007 3:11 pm

The actions are probably the saving of him. He has no other vent, no other way of dealing with things in some cases, no-one to talk to, which is how many of us let off steam. He hardly ever articulates his thoughts and emotions to the other characters, so he needs actions. I wrote in the other thread that he has acquired the habit of submission to others. These actions allow him to rebel symbolically. I regard the water melon incident as a turning point for him. Here he is standing up to the girl face to face, and not dancing to her tune, and I gave him a little clap then. It is probably as much as he could manage. It's a step in the right direction, because from small acorns big oak trees grow. He has a more difficult task with Momma, after years of obedience. When he does challenge her, she puts him in his place, talking about him in the third person to Amy about whose house it is.
Hitting Arnie is different, when he is at breaking point.
Peeing on the grave is entirely symbolic and very apt. It is different to the other actions: more deliberate. He has to drive there to do it, so it is with some malice aforethought. But then he has just re-lived the memory. Disrespectful yes, but an enactment, and then... she didn't exactly merit respect. I think it gave him closure, to some extent - that and the writing in the school. But then he had Becky to show him the way, a more positive productive way of expressing himself. He doesn't exactly have many good role models in Endora in this respect, after all.
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Unread postby Charlene » Thu Apr 19, 2007 3:25 pm

I think everyone has covered the bases on his "immaturity"...what struck me was that his actions irritated me in the "reading"...but Gilbert was spot on in the movie....it just didn't seem immature there (well, and there was only one incident...backing up...but it was soooo deserved...and you know he wouldn't have hurt her).

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Unread postby gemini » Thu Apr 19, 2007 4:33 pm

I think I'll look at this another way since you all covered the obvious reasons pretty well. Young boys need a father. Gilbert is 24 years old which is bit old for some of his behavior.
I think the fact that his father died caused more problems for him than just grieving over his death. Larry was 10 years older and left the family not long after Alberts death because he was of age. That meant Gilbert from about 7 or a little older was the only male in the family besides Arnie. This left him with no male influence from a pretty young age. He had no one to bond with or replace his father. He did try to take on responsibility but was still immature for his age.
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