Study Guide

Rain Man Guilt and Blame

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Guilt and Blame

Okay, so this isn't a super obvious theme in Rain Man—Charlie doesn't seem to feel much of anything for most of it—but if you look a little closer, you can see a whole ocean of guilty, not-so-good feelings and history running under the surface of the Babbitt family.

Charlie starts out taking basically zero blame or responsibility for the problems he and his dad had, but by he end he's freely admitting that the breach was really his fault—a huge step in his character development, if you ask us.

Also, there's some painful history surrounding the family's decision to put Ray in Wallbrook. It seems that there was some accident or near accident involving Charlie, Ray, and a bathtub. Ray remembers the incident and, despite not seeming like a super emotional guy about anything other than routines/the breaking of routines, he gets upset remembering that he almost hurt Charlie.

Questions About Guilt and Blame

  1. Do you think Charlie feels some level of guilt or responsibility for Ray going away to Wallbrook, since he was involved in the incident that sparked the decision?
  2. We know Charlie eventually took blame for his part in the breach with his father—but did his father? What do you think, based on the letter he left for Charlie with his will?
  3. Do you get the sense that Ray feels genuine guilt over the incident with Charlie in the bathtub when Charlie was younger, or is he just remembering fear? How do we know, and why does it matter?
  4. Do you really buy that Charlie could make such a big turnaround in his life in the space of a few days?

Chew on This

By cutting Charlie out of the will financially and sticking the knife in further by leaving him the car that busted up their relationship, Charlie's father tipped us off that he was far from "forgiving" Charlie.

Charlie's father's will was a sly/twisty attempt at getting Ray and Charlie reunited (without letting on that's what he was doing) in order to help heal all the wounds of the past.

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