Study Guide

Rain Man Language and Communication

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Language and Communication

CHARLIE: Who the hell are you? Huh? Whoa, wait a second. Where are you going?
RAYMOND: Thirteen minutes to Judge Wapner and The People's Court.
CHARLIE: Hold it, wait a second, I wanna ask you a question.

In this early interaction, Charlie and Ray have just met, and Charlie is trying to figure out who Ray is… and why he knows the family car so well. However, Ray is one-track about getting back inside to watch Wapner, and isn't really engaging with the conversation. Of course, Charlie is being just as one-track in really just bulldozing ahead in the conversation to get the information he needs.

DR. BRUNER: Raymond has a problem communicating and learning. He can't even express himself or probably even understand his own emotions in a traditional way.

Here, Doctor Bruner is explaining Ray's unique challenges to Charlie. Charlie really doesn't seem to get it—probably because he's not really listening and just thinking about the money that Ray inherited instead of him. Like we mentioned, Charlie's communication skills aren't really the best, either.

SUSANNA: Put it back! He said not to touch the books!
RAYMOND: Not to touch books.
CHARLIE: You like Shakespeare, Ray?
RAYMOND: I don't know.
CHARLIE: Did you read all this?
RAYMOND: I don't know.
CHARLIE: You don't know.
CHARLIE: Did you read Macbeth?
RAYMOND: I don't know. Vern?
CHARLIE: You read Hamlet?
RAYMOND: I don't know. Vern?
CHARLIE: You read the Twelfth Night?
SUSANNA: Stop it!
CHARLIE: You read all these stories that are in this book, and you don't know if you read the book?
RAYMOND: I don't know. V-E-R-N.
CHARLIE: You don't know?
VERN: Maybe you'd better put it back.

When Charlie first sees Ray's room at the hospital, he's shocked to learn that his brother, who doesn't communicate well, has read all of these books. Then, he's even more confused by the fact that Ray doesn't seem to know he's read the books. Charlie is pretty aggressive in asking about Ray's reading habits, and between that—and the fact that Charlie's touching all his things—Ray is getting super nervous. But, once again, Charlie is just being a bull(y)dozer and doesn't really care about how what he's saying or doing makes anyone feel.

SUSANNA: Charlie, you're his brother! His brother! They tell you today for the first time that you have a brother, and I don't see in your face one little reaction. I'm not saying joy. I'm saying something.
CHARLIE: Just take it easy—you don't know what I'm going through here.
SUSANNA: What are you going through? What are you going through? Because I don't know. Because you don't tell me anything! You just give me lies! Lies! Lies!
CHARLIE: Lies? What lies? What lies?
SUSANNA: This thing that Dr. Bruner asked you to bring him here, this is bulls***. I know it's not true. So why don't you tell me why, why is he here?
CHARLIE: Because I'm pissed at him.
SUSANNA: At who?
CHARLIE: At my father.
SUSANNA: You're pissed at your father, and you bring Raymond here. Why?
CHARLIE: I don't know why. 'Cause I got him and they want him!
SUSANNA: This makes no sense!
CHARLIE: Raymond was left all the money and I got nothing.
SUSANNA: How much?
CHARLIE: $3 million, the inheritance. Every penny of it.
CHARLIE: So, I'm gonna keep him 'til I get my half! I deserve that!

Here, Susanna is going after Charlie for not really ever expressing his feelings—and for lying when he does communicate. She's realized that Charlie kidnapped Ray, contrary to what he initially said went down at Wallbrook… so, she's not too happy with his "communication" skills just now.

CHARLIE: Ray, Ray, Ray, Ray, you are never gonna solve it. You know why you're never gonna solve it? 'Cause it's not a riddle, man. And if you understood that—if you understood that it's funny—you know, you might get better.

Charlie and Ray end up bonding eventually, and Charlie finally gets how to relate to/communicate with Ray and address his needs (in terms of communication and everything else). Here, he's trying to get Ray to understand Abbott and Costello's "Who's on first" as a joke rather than a riddle/honest question—and if Ray just "got" stuff like that, Charlie suggests, he could "get better."

His thoughts don't really indicate a deep understanding of autism or how it works (and some might argue the whole movie has that issue), but the point is that he's trying to help Ray get a deeper understanding of language and its nuances/double-meanings, which would in turn help him out socially.

CHARLIE: I like having you for my big brother.
RAYMOND: Yeah. C-H-A-R-L-l-E. C-H-A-R-L-l-E. Main man.

Ray had previously liked to spell out the name of a guy at Wallbrook named Vern, whom he called his "main man." But at the end of the movie, he's started doing that same ritual with his brother's name. He uses the spelling to show a connection to/affection for a person, and it's about as close to saying "I love you" as Ray seems to get.

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