Graduate Gone Mad

After hearing lots of positive things about The Graduate (the movie with Dustin Hoffman), I read the book (by Charles Webb). It’s only 191 pages, so very easy to read in a day. It’s also mostly dialogue, so it was tailor-made for the big screen or a theater.

Weirdly enough, I found myself sympathizing with Ben Braddock’s existential plight. His mental crisis reminded me of when I was trying to find a job after graduation and wondering what good a piece of paper (i.e., diploma) would be anyway when the only place I could get employed was at a fast food restaurant. What irritated me was how he considered himself a lost cause and didn’t even try to do anything right. In the hands of a different author, a character like this would never be sympathetic or even decent because he lacked autonomy. Ben more or less seemed like he was being pulled along by the other characters throughout the story. By the time he finally began to take action, it was absolutely the wrong kind of action.

I know the book was supposed to be a comedy, but I didn’t really find it that funny. After I got over sympathizing with Ben, I wanted to slap him in the face, which his father did for me near the end of the book. It seemed like the only reasons Ben wanted to marry Elaine were to spite Mrs. Robinson and to bring some excitement into his life, which he obviously perceived as hopeless.

Did you see or read The Graduate? What did you think?

7 thoughts on “Graduate Gone Mad

  1. I loved the movie. I think the director was able to tap into the humor of Ben and the other characters’ stories and that is what made it work for me. Otherwise I would normally be very unsympathetic to all the characters in the movie.

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  2. I have a feeling that I’ve seen the movie, but I’m not 100% sure. If I did, it obviously didn’t make much of an impression on me. I may be confusing it in my mind with I Love You, Alice B. Toklas, which I know I did see.

    I definitely haven’t read the book.

    If I did see the movie, the problem for me was definitely not a lack of sympathetic characters — I’m okay with that. I really like Chinatown, for example, and everybody in that is awful.

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    1. Reading a book with unsympathetic characters would probably make me want to throw the book across the room… then pick it up and start reading again. I don’t usually quit reading them because it’s fun to see what happens to the characters.

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  3. I saw the movie and recall being amused, but I can’t tell you a thing that happened in it, character development or otherwise. I know it was famous and had some songs in it that might explain why Paul Simon has been overrated for so long.

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