Study Guide

Rain Man Money

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Charlie's a big believer in that truism that money makes the world go around. At the beginning of Rain Man, it's pretty much all he can think about—largely because he's in some serious financial difficulties, of course.

Then, to increase his obsession with $$$, his father dies and cuts him out of the financial part of the estate. The solution to both problems? Kidnapping his brother, Raymond, who did receive the balance of their father's fortune, and holding him for ransom until the estate's trustee pays him out his half.

Luckily, Charlie learns not to be such a heartless bloodsucker by the end and puts Ray before his own greed… but not before Raymond wins a ton of cash for him in Vegas.

Questions About Money

  1. Does the fact that Ray ends up solving Charlie's financial problems undermine the overall message that money matters less than family? Family becomes a tool for solving those problems after all, so is the message really that you should be nice to your family so they can help you out of financial jams?
  2. Was Charlie really fundamentally a selfish yuppie at the beginning of the film, or was he just a desperate guy who'd had some bad luck? How do we know?
  3. Do you find it convincing that Charlie would kidnap his brother for ransom?
  4. Do you think Charlie is emotionless about his father's death because he's relieved to be getting an inheritance in the midst of his financial problems?

Chew on This

The ending reaffirms that money—not family—is really the main focus; Charlie and Ray only really bond after Ray gets Charlie what he's valued most in the world up to this point: money.

Sure, the "happy ending" involves Charlie getting the money he so desperately needed/wanted at the beginning, but the message is still that family is still the foundation of all other happiness—you need that before you can hope for anything else.

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