Study Guide

Rain Man Raymond (Dustin Hoffman)

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Raymond (Dustin Hoffman)

Raymond isn't exactly portrayed as the most complex individual on account of his autism—so really, is it any wonder that people have had problems with the movie's portrayal of that disorder?

The challenges that come with his autism do tend to dominate, but we also get a sense of the deeply sweet and kind person Raymond is: it's not just all about the autism. We'll take the heavy-hitting points of the day when it comes to Ray one by one.

He's A Stress Ball

No, not like you're a stressball when you're working on a paper or studying for an exam—Ray gets extremely wigged out just by changes to his routines.

So, when Ray and Charlie are on the road, and they aren't able to get to a TV to watch The People's Court, Raymond does not react well—to the point where even the totally self-obsessed Charlie realizes that he needs to give Raymond what he wants pronto.

When Ray gets stressed out, he relies on reciting lines from an Abbot and Costello comedy bit to calm down. We're not sure why it works, but he seems to find it a kind of security blanket when things are stressful—like, for example, when Charlie (whom he doesn't yet know) is touching his things at the beginning of the movie.

He's Really Smart

It takes Charlie a while to realize it, but Raymond is actually pretty freaking smart when it comes to numbers and counting.

So, when a box of toothpicks spills on the floor, he can easily count up how many were in there in, like, a split second. Also, as Charlie is thrilled to realize, Raymond is great at counting cards, so they make a killing in Vegas.

Charlie's realization that his brother's special needs and quirks come with perks is kind of a turning point for the brothers. You could be cynical and say that this turning point occurs because Charlie realizes Ray can get him out of his financial problems—but let's be optimistic, shall we?

The optimistic interpretation is that Charlie realizes that he Ray is basically like everyone else—he isn't perfect and has struggles, but he also has strengths—and he's always willing to help out Charlie, even if he doesn't really understand what he's doing by counting cards in a Vegas casino.

He's The Rain Man

What does that mean? Well, Charlie tells his girlfriend toward the beginning of the movie that he had an imaginary friend named "Rain Man" when he was kid who comforted him when he was scared. Later in the movie, though, he realizes that this person was real—in fact, he was Raymond.

Turns out that Raymond used to be around when Charlie was a kid, but he was institutionalized after some accident involving Charlie and a bath that Raymond had prepared that was too hot. Raymond appears to still be traumatized by the memory, repeating, "Never hurt Charlie Babbitt" over and over again when he remembers it years later.

From Raymond's extreme reaction to the memory of almost hurting Charlie, you can tell that he really cares about his brother and feels protective of him. This is also a turning point for Charlie and Raymond, as Charlie appears to realize that Ray once took care of him and truly cares for him.

He Grows

Despite the fact that Raymond's portrayal often boils down to his autism, we do get to see some personal growth throughout the film. For example, he manages to foster a relationship with Charlie and learns to trust him, even allowing some physical contact (which he generally hates) when Charlie teaches him to slow dance. Sure, when Charlie tries to hug him right after, he flips out—but he allows the close physical contact during their dance lesson, which is a big step.

Oh, and why does he need the dance lesson? Because he's made a date with a woman down in the bar (or he thinks he has). Pursuing that kind of human connection is definitely a switch-up for Raymond, who has largely seemed more interested in routines and television than people. He even lets Susanna kiss him as part of a "dating lesson"—so, he's definitely warmed up to his new extended family a ton (in a weird, weird way) by the time the movie starts winding down.

Overall, we close the film with the warm and fuzzies about how these two unlikely dudes managed to forge a relationship despite all odds on both sides, and Raymond's growth into that link is probably the most surprising.

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