Study Guide

Rain Man Language and Communication

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Language and Communication

Raymond Babbitt is described as an "autistic savant," and Rain Man portrays him as being super challenged in terms of expressing himself and relating to others. Of course, one of the big ironies of the film is that his brother, who's not autistic, is actually just as challenged (if not more so) in terms of expressing his feelings—which we realize early on, when Charlie's girlfriend complains that he never tells her important stuff.

Through their relationship, though, both the brothers seem to grow and get a little bit better at connecting with others—which is really the big "win" or emotional payoff for the film.

Questions About Language and Communication

  1. Do you agree that Charlie and Raymond are portrayed as equally challenged in the communications arena? Is this a fair comparison?
  2. How does Susanna figure into the brothers' relationship/communication "journey"?
  3. Where does the boys' father fit into all this? What do we know about his communication style from Charlie/Raymond/his will?

Chew on This

Even though Charlie starts out viewing Ray as the one who is "disabled," Charlie's crummy interpersonal skills and bad, money-grubbing attitude show us that he's really just as challenged as Ray in communicating/interacting with the world around him—if not more so.

By learning how to help and deal with Raymond's unique needs and communication issues, Charlie manages to pull his head out of, er, the sand and work on his own communication problems.

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