Charlie Babbit owns a company: Babbit Collectibles. He buys cars from Italy and sells them with profit. His girlfriend Susanna Palmieri, an Italian woman, helps him. Wyatt calls and says that he wants his money. He tells them that Charlie's cheque hasn't received him. There are big problems with the cars and Susanna is worrier for their weekend. Charlie is very confident that the problems will be solved and decides to go anyway. Charlie and Susanna go to Palm Springs, Atlanta, with a replacement cheque. In the car, Lenny, an employee, calls and tells Charlie that his father, Sanford Babbit and investment banker, has died. Charlie shows no reaction. He explains Susanna that he hated him. Susanna feels very sorry for him and insists on going with him.
After the emotionless funeral, Charlie and Susanna go to the lawyer in father's house on Wallnut Hill. Charlie tells Susanna how he left his father: Charlie was 16 years old and he came home with a marvelous report card and he wanted to use his father's car for a celebration ride. His father forbids him but Charlie used the car. His father reported the car stolen. Charlie is caught and his father left him two days in prison. After that, Charlie never returned home. Charlie gets a "flash-back" and tells Susanna about an imaginary friend Rain Man. The lawyer, John Mooney, reads Charlie a letter from his father, in which is told that his father has forgiven him the "car-accident" but not the fact that he never returned home. Sanford gives Charlie his old car and his rose bushes. (Charlie always got crazy about the rose bushes. His father loved the roses and the Buick very much; it seemed that he loved them more than he loved Charlie, because the roses never disappointed him.) Sanford has put his money, $ 3 mln., in a trust. Charlie is very angry about that, but he doesn't show Susanna.
Charlie wants to know the name of the trust. He goes to the bank and with a plausible story, he gets the name: Dr. Walter Bruner form Wallbrook, a home for the developmentally disabled. Charlie visits Dr. Bruner to learn who exactly got the money. Bruner isn't empowered to tell him. All he tells him is that he nor Wallbrook gets better from it. Raymond, a "patient", is touching the old car that Sanford left Charlie. Charlie tells him to stop. In answer to that, Raymond uses words which his father used to use. (brown leather, it cost an arm and a leg) Charlie asks Raymond is he knows the car. Raymond is upset and Susanna tells Charlie to stop. Raymond, hearing the name Charlie, starts telling Charlie's address. Bruner tells Charlie that Raymond is his brother.
Charlie learns that Raymond is the owner of the 3 million dollars. Bruner tells Charlie that Raymond is autistic: Raymond puts events is a file in his head like a databank, so he can't see any correlation between them. A list of things that happen on a day prevents him from going mad (he has a ritual for everything). He is only capable of two feelings: fear and no-fear. If anything goes different then normal, he gets frightened. Susanna drives the car away. Raymond and Charlie are going for a little walk. Charlie tells Raymond that their father has died. Raymond isn't capable of understanding it. They go to Susanna and they visit the grave. After that they go to California for a ball-game. Bruner knows nothing about this.
Charlie takes Raymond and Susanna to a hotel room. Raymond notices that his room is different then his room in Wallbrook and gets frightened. If he gets very frightened he starts a sketch on baseball (who is on first base?). He also starts screaming for V-E-R-Non, his "man" at Wallbrook. Raymond makes his room resemble his room at Wallbrook as much as possible. He placed his bed under the windows etc. He starts watching TV. Someone on the TV tells him to turn off the TV and so he does. He goes to Charlie's room for a TV. Charlie and Susanna are having sex together and Charlie sends Raymond angrily away. He tells him to read a phonebook. Charlie tells Susanna that he wants to keep Raymond because he has the money. Susanna gets angry and leaves, because she thinks that Charlie is very egoistic and that he uses everyone for his own good and then dumps them.
Charlie takes Raymond to a restaurant. In the restaurant Raymond almost turns mad because the syrup isn't on the table yet. Charlie is angry and urges him to stop complaining. He hurts him which Raymond immediately writes down in his Serious Injury List. He is nr. 18, 15 July 1988, this is repeated very often! Charlie learns that Raymond has a extremely good memory: he knows the phonenumber of the waitress after he has seen her name. Raymond can also count extremely quick: a box of toothpicks falls down and Raymond counted them. Charlie calls Bruner and tells him that he wants "his" $1,5 mln. Bruner says that he can't do that and that Raymond is a better man in Wallbrook.. Charlie's business is still going bad. He has to go to LA and he wants to go by plane. Raymond remembers that every company has had an crash (except one but that one only goes to Australia) and he doesn't want to go by plane. Charlie tries to force him but when Raymond starts screaming he tells him that they will go by car.
Charlie wants to get custody over Ray. If he has, he will also have the money. But first, Raymond has to be declared mentally unsound by an expert. He needs a psychiatrist on his side so he calls one. The man says no but Raymond, who has discovered that it is only 12 minutes to his beloved Wapner, starts screaming. The doctor (Schilling) hears that and he agrees to make an appointment. Charlie goes to a house, pretending to be a TV-star, to watch Wapner with Ray. He fails because Raymond goes crazy. The woman feels pity and lets them in. Raymond is happy because he can see Wapner.
They visit Schilling. The only advise he can give them is to try changing Raymond. Raymond must be less fearful, less notebooks and rituals. In that way it is obvious that Charlie has a good influence on him. Charlie and Raymond go to a motel. While Raymond is brushing his teeth and makes a lot of foam: Charlie always liked that : "Funny Rain Man, funny teeth". Charlie used to call his brother Rain Man (a bad pronunciation of Raymond). Charlie had always thought that Rain Man was nothing more than an imaginary friend. Raymond left the house after he had out the baby Charlie in too hot water, so he nearly burned. Sanford, depressed after the wife of his wife Eleanor, got very angry and sent Raymond to Wallbrook. Charlie was waving and crying "Bye, Rain Man" when Raymond left. Now, Charlie realizes that he loves his brother.
Charlie is now in big trouble: he earns Wyatt $90.000. (Wyatt found the cars and took them.) In spite of a low budget, Charlie buys Ray new clothes and a portable TV, so they won't have trouble with Wapner anymore. Charlie learns that Ray has an extremely good photographic memory. He learns Ray the rules of Blackjack and together they go to Las Vegas.
Charlie and Raymond are playing Blackjack: If Ray lays down one chip, the cards of the dealer are bad, if he lays down, the cards are good. They win very much, thanks to Ray. Raymond gets a bit nervous of all the sudden attention, but all goes well after Charlie has explained to Raymond that he shouldn't show that he is counting. The casino is investigating how it is possible that two men win so often. It is clear that Charlie is out of debts.
Raymond is standing at the bar when he meets Iris. He talks to her, imitating Charlie in one of his conversations with Susanna. Iris wants to have a date and Raymond is anxious to learn how to dance. Charlie teaches him. Charlie realizes that he can't go on with manipulating everybody. He hugs Ray but Raymond is very afraid=> he realizes that he loves his brother and brother hug. But Raymond isn't that kind of a brother. Susanna comes. Iris doesn't come at Raymond's date. Raymond is very disappointed. Susanna take him to their room and in the elevator they dance and kiss each other, because Charlie had told Raymond to kiss Iris when she had been nice. The casino knows they're cheating and urges them to leave.
They drive back to Charlie's apartment. Even Ray drives a little. "I'm an excellent driver!" In Charlie's apartment, Charlie learns that Bruner has called and wants to meet him. They meet each other. Bruner offers Charlie a $ 250.000 cheque but Charlie refuses. He now wants his brother not the money. Raymond is very disappointed that his promised ball-game is "canceled". Charlie goes playing baseball with Ray. Raymond loves it, he even touches Charlie which is very special. Charlie learns from Ray's words that Sanford has loved him. Sanford had told Ray that Charlie "show them up one day". At this moment there is a connection between the two brothers.
Charlie sees on the Serious Injury List that Raymond has forgiven him. Charlie and Ray are going to see the psychiatrist Marston who has to advise the judge on who must get custody over Raymond. Bruner is also there. Bruner is asking Raymond questions. Raymond's answers are bad for Charlie's change to get custody over Raymond. Raymond tells him e.g. that he has driven a car, met a prostitute (Iris). Raymond lies about the accident in the restaurant. Charlie tells the truth => he held him to tightly to get a connection. Bruner and Marston both know that this is very special => autistics don't lie. The both know that a miracle has happened: there is a connection. Bruner asks Raymond what he wants. Ray can't answer. It is obvious that it is better for Raymond to return to Wallbrook. When Raymond leaves, he gives a photograph to Charlie. Bruner sees it happen and concludes that this week has been very good for Charlie. Charlie doesn't use people anymore just for his own good.
Charlie used to call his brother Raymond Rain Man. Rain Man is a bad pronunciation of Raymond.
Charlie: in the beginning he is an egoistic business man but he develops into a sensitive man. He is Ray's brother and he wants the money Ray has. Later he only wants his brother back. round
Raymond: Charlie's autistic brother. He is 16 years his senior and 42 years old. The battle for the money and later the custody is fought but he doesn't notice. round
Susanna: Charlie's girlfriend. She is sensitive (e.g. she leaves when she hears of Charlie's plan with Raymond). round
Bruner: he has known Sanford for long. He wants to keep Raymond in Wallbrook. flat
Sanford: Charlie's father. He is fond of rose bushes and he humiliates Charlie with his letter. flat
The story takes place in 1988, USA. One week is told.
Love is more important than money.
Point of view
The author is someone outside the story.
The book has 13 chapters.
rose bushes, Wapner, Serious Injury List: nr 18, 15 July 1988
Autism is a congenital, psychological disorder and its symptoms can be recognized already in the first two years. These symptoms contain three fields:
1 the contact between people
2 the communication
3 repetitive and stereotype behaving patterns
1) Autistic persons avoid social contact. Parents notice for instance that: - their baby does not seek eye contact (as normal babies do). - their baby does not seem to mind that the parents leave This only becomes worse when the child grows older. In short: in the contact with autistic persons, the interactive aspect which is specific for social relationships is missing.
Examples in the book:
- Raymond hates being touched
- Raymond doesn't start a conversation, he answers when he has to
2) The development of language or speech is delayed or missing. Approximately 50% of the autistic persons doesn't develop the function of language. When present, the language is distorted in understanding and using. The speech of an autistic is characterized by:
2a. echolalie. This means repeating (a part of) a sentence that just has been spoken.
Examples in the book:
Raymond repeats a question when he doesn't understand. Especially the "like and want-questions" => there is no like/dislike, only routine, schedules which cause no fear ,and distortion, which causes fear.
2b. "parrot speech" This resembles echolalie, but the difference is that the autistic uses words he has heard days, months or even years before.
Examples in the book:
Raymond often repeats sentences from "People's court" (=Wapner) => "I'm an excellent driver."
2c. interchanging I/You
2d. Speech disorders: abnormalities in intonation, articulation and rhythm.
Examples in the book:
Raymond talks very monotonously.
- Speech isn't often used for social contact, but for stimulation of themselves in a stereotype, repetitive way.
- Autistics don't understand the language in abstract context! So they don't understand jokes.
3) Autistic persons have limited interests and occupations. This includes some "bizarre" abilities like saying parts of a telephone book. These occupations are primarily meant to avoke predictable sensations. When the environment doesn't answer the demands, autistic persons gets frightened or angry.
Examples in the book:
- the red shirt in the dryer. The read shirt is always falling the same. Raymond is obsessed by it. - his bed must stand under the window
Beside these three symptoms there are other aspects that are interesting:
- response to stimulation from the environment is either very little or very much
Examples in the book: - Ray doesn't react on hearing his name - Ray reacts intensely on other stimulations like being touched
- intellectual functioning Most autistics have an IQ below 70, this means slight-deep retarded. In contrast to this, they are quite good at some single things. Raymond is an exception!
- Stereotype, self stimulation activities like swinging ones body. Autism is a chronic handicap: you can't be cured. The environment of the autistic can only be sure that he has all the chance to develop everything he can.
Note: Autistic don't understand abstract things, nor symbolic games (See 2). It is the question if the baseball game would be understandable to an autistic person. In the book it is suggested that that is possible but I think it is not.
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