Rain Man

Comprehensive Storyform

The following analysis reveals a comprehensive look at the Storyform for Rain Man. Unlike most of the analysis found here—which simply lists the unique individual story appreciations—this in-depth study details the actual encoding for each structural item. This also means it has been incorporated into the Dramatica Story Expert application itself as an easily referenced contextual example.

Story Dynamics

8 of the 12 essential questions

Main Character Resolve

Charlie is most concerned with making fast money and guarding his emotions.  He works hard to close the car deal and make a profit with just “a few phone calls.”  He argues with Susanna when she wants him to share his thoughts, however, because he does change he is able to reconcile with her.  After the road trip with Raymond, Charlie turns down Dr. Bruner’s offer of $250,000 to release his brother:
CHARLIE:  It’s funny, I just realized I’m not pissed off any more that my father cut me out of his will. [...] It’s not about the money anymore. [...] Why didn’t anyone ever tell me I had a brother.  Because it would have been nice to know him for more than just the past six days.
Later, at the hearing with the doctors, Charlie says he connected with Raymond during the trip and values him as family:
CHARLIE:  I had a father I hardly knew.  A mother I didn’t know at all.  I found out a few days ago that I have a brother and I want to be with him.

Main Character Growth

Charlie must stop his materialistic, selfish, non-committal attitude toward life.  He cares only about the money he didn’t get from his father and considers Raymond only as a way to get it:
CHARLIE:  I got him and they want him.  I’m going to keep him until I get my half.  I deserve that.

Main Character Approach

When bureaucratic red tape threatens his car deal, Charlie appeases his customers and knocks $5,000 off the price of the cars.  When his father’s lawyer refuses to reveal the identity of the beneficiary of the will, Charlie goes to the bank and finds out who it is.  He goes to Walbrook, discovers he has a brother, then kidnaps Raymond, and finally demands half of the inheritance.

Main Character Mental Sex

Charlie, using linear thinking, attacks his problems straight on.  He puts one business fire out at a time; when the EPA officials bug him, he considers paying them off; when his buyers want to back out of the deal, he gives them a discount; when his loan is due, he gets an extension; when his inheritance is given away, he finds out who got it and tries to make a deal.  When Dr. Bruner doesn’t give Charlie his half of the inheritance, he keeps Raymond, something they want, until he gets what he wants.

Story Driver

When the EPA fails the Lamberghinis, Charlie decides to lie to his customers and give them a discount on the cars.  When Mr. Mooney, the lawyer, reads the will giving Sanford Babbitt’s fortune to someone else, Charlie decides to find the beneficiary.  When Dr. Bruner does not give Charlie his share of the inheritance, Charlie decides to “ransom” Raymond.  After Charlie refuses to return Raymond to Walbrook, Susanna decides to leave Charlie.  After Raymond throws a tantrum when expected to fly in an airplane, Charlie decides to drive to Los Angeles.  After the bank seizes Charlie’s cars, he decides to use Raymond to win money in Las Vegas.

Story Limit

Charlie pressures the EPA to get his cars passed, gives his customers a discount, and gets an extension on his bank loan, but still loses his cars and goes bankrupt.  Susanna pleads with Charlie to be compassionate toward his brother, then having exhausted all her arguments, the only thing left for her to do is to leave Charlie.  Charlie does everything he can to make Raymond comfortable during their road trip, and then in his home, but his best efforts aren’t enough to satisfy Raymond’s needs.  Having failed to convince Charlie to return Raymond, Dr. Bruner offers Charlie a payoff.  Finally, Charlie’s forced to realize the best place for Raymond is at Walbrook.

Story Outcome

Charlie does not get half of the inheritance that he expected.  He doesn’t even get custody of Raymond.

Story Judgment

Charlie learns to love the brother he didn’t know he had.  He forgives his father for disowning him, and becomes a compassionate person.

Overall Story Throughline

""Obtaining Half of the Inheritance""

Overall Story Throughline

Charlie strives to sell his cars; get his father’s money; travel to Los Angeles with Raymond; save his business.  Raymond rearranges his environment in an exact way to suit him; catalogs Charlie’s infractions against him in a notebook; devours television shows; counts, remembers and analyzes almost everything he sees.  Mr. Mooney administers Sanford Babbitt’s will.  Dr. Bruner works to get Raymond back.  Susanna works to convince Charlie to value Raymond as family, and to make Raymond comfortable away from Walbrook.  Lenny works to salvage the car deal.

Overall Story Concern

Charlie is after the quick buck with the car deal and the inheritance, and is determined to find a way to get Raymond to Los Angeles to claim the inheritance.  Susanna wants Charlie’s emotional commitment.  Raymond wants his controlled, ordered life at Walbrook.  Lenny wants Charlie’s undivided attention concerning the business.  Dr. Bruner wants to get Raymond back to Walbrook.

Overall Story Issue

Charlie is interested in making or getting money; Susanna is upset at Charlie’s callous attitude, needing a more fulfilling relationship; Raymond is concerned with his immediate physical needs; Lenny wants to save his job.

Overall Story Counterpoint

Dr. Bruner is interested in his patient’s welfare and honoring his commitment to Raymond’s father.  Susanna constantly works to make Charlie aware of his responsibility to Raymond.  When Charlie is rude to Raymond for walking in on their lovemaking, Susanna is disgusted with Charlie:
SUSANNA: You go back in there.  And you apologize.
CHARLIE:  What was I supposed to do?  Tuck him in like a baby?  I’m not his mother, for Chrissake.
SUSANNA:  No.  You’re his brother. [...]  You could show him some respect.
(Bass, p. 51)

Overall Story Thematic Conflict
Self-Interest vs.Morality

Whereas self interest is explored by the objective characters, morality is well represented.  Dr. Bruner never wavers in his efforts to do what is best for Raymond, selflessly denouncing personal and professional claim to the inheritance:
DR. BRUNER:  I’m trustee of the fund.  But this hospital receives nothing from it. 
CHARLIE:  Hardly seems fair.  Maybe that’s something we could discuss.
DR. BRUNER:  I took on this burden out of loyalty to your father and that’s where that loyalty ends.

Overall Story Problem

Control creates problems for the objective characters in various ways.  Charlie struggles to control his business deal; get control of the inheritance; manage Raymond.  Raymond must tightly control his environment and daily routine or he becomes frantic.  Dr. Bruner controls Raymond’s fortune, and fights to keep Raymond under his care.  Susanna tries to direct Charlie’s attitude toward Raymond.  Lenny desperately tries to maintain control over the car deal in Charlie’s absence.

Overall Story Solution

Although the objective story outcome results in failure, out of control circumstances leads to solving problems within the story.  Susanna slips from Charlie’s control and leaves him, causing Charlie to realize he needs her.  Raymond is set loose into a uncontrolled world and charms Charlie.  The unscheduled road trip sets Charlie’s life in turmoil; ruins his business; bankrupts him; prompts Dr. Bruner to offer money, pushing Charlie toward the noble decision to release Raymond back into the doctor’s care.

Overall Story Symptom

Charlie goes after the inheritance; Raymond pursues order wherever he is; Dr. Bruner looks for a way to get Raymond back at Walbrook; Susanna seeks a kinder, gentler Charlie; Lenny attempts to achieve a successful closure to the car deal.

Overall Story Response

The characters in Rain Man use avoidance as a means to side-track problems: Charlie avoids emotional involvement with everyone and postpones payment of his loan.  Raymond withdraws into his “Who on First” routine when someone invades his personal space, or when he is put in a new environment.  Mr. Mooney hides behind attorney/client privilege when quizzed about the beneficiary of the inheritance.  Dr. Bruner eludes naming the beneficiary by citing loyalty to Charlie’s father.  Lenny bails himself out of a problem with a client by getting Charlie to tell him what to say.  Susanna avoids a sticky situation by leaving Charlie to deal with Raymond alone.

Overall Story Catalyst

In Rain Man, the objective characters’ methods of handling problems accelerate the story:  Charlie lies to stall his customers; charms the bank executive to find the beneficiary; attempts to cut a deal with Dr. Bruner.  Dr. Bruner’s straight forward, incorruptible way of administrating the inheritance causes Charlie to kidnap Raymond.  Raymond’s delicate, introverted manner acts as a catalyst in Susanna’s relationship with Charlie—the way Charlie treats Raymond leads to a final disagreement between him and Susanna.  Lenny’s timidity and inexperienced way of handling the car deal helps destroy it.

Overall Story Inhibitor

A sense of obligation creates problems and slows down the progress in the objective story in Rain Man: Dr. Bruner’s pledge to Charlie’s father causes him to administer the inheritance as it was intended, for Raymond’s needs only; Bruner’s professional obligation to his patient compels him to fight Charlie for custody of Raymond.  Susanna’s emotional obligation to herself forces her to leave Charlie at a crucial moment in his crusade, forcing him to deal with Raymond directly.  As an employee, Lenny is compelled to inform Charlie of business disasters causing Charlie to backtrack to Las Vegas.  Raymond’s obligation to maintain his peace of mind causes him to demand a strict daily routine and not go out when it rains; this slows the two brothers’ progress to Los Angeles.

Overall Story Benchmark

The more the objective characters engage in activities, the more the story moves closer to the goal: Charlie kidnaps Raymond and puts him in a hotel room; Susanna gets fed up with Charlie and walks out, leaving Charlie to deal with his brother alone; Raymond gambles and wins big at Blackjack in Las Vegas, learns to dance, and kisses Susanna in the elevator—actions that endear him to his little brother; Dr. Bruner offers Charlie money to drop the custody hearing; and finally, although he understands his effort to achieve the goal of half the inheritance will result in failure, Charlie eventually “does the right thing” and releases Raymond back into Dr. Bruner’s care.

Additional Overall Story Information →
Overall Story Throughline Synopsis

When Charlie Babbitt, a smooth-talking Los Angeles car salesman, returns to Cincinnati for his father’s funeral, he finds that he has inherited rose bushes and a ‘49 Buick Roadmaster convertible.  He is shocked to learn that his father’s $3 million fortune has been left to Raymond, Charlie’s autistic older brother of whose existence he has been completely ignorant.  Having failed to strike a deal with Dr. Bruner, the trustee of the fund and Raymond’s doctor, Charlie kidnaps Raymond from the institution and sets off for Los Angeles determined to keep Raymond until he gets half of the inheritance.  Susanna, Charlie’s girlfriend, upset at his plan to use Raymond walks out on him.  In the meantime, Dr. Bruner tries to convince Charlie to return Raymond.  During a long road trip to the West Coast, Charlie bonds with his lovable, yet introspective, brother.  He eventually undergoes a change of heart and gives up his fight for the inheritance.

Overall Story Backstory

Charlie Babbitt’s car deal is in jeopardy because the EPA will not pass the four Lamberghinis he has imported to sell.  All of his money is tied-up in the cars.  His banker demands payment on his loan NOW, or the cars will be seized.  His impatient Los Angeles customers want to buy their cars elsewhere.  Charlie needs money fast and believes that there’s no magical windfall coming his way, until he’s informed of his father’s death.  But when Charlie was sixteen, he and his father had a falling-out over a vintage Buick.  They never spoke to each other after the incident.  Embittered, Charlie’s father willed his fortune to an unknown beneficiary, leaving Charlie only the car and some rose bushes.  Little does Charlie know that his boyhood imaginary friend, the Rain Man, was an autistic older brother no one told him about.  Raymond was institutionalized over twenty years ago because he accidentally burned two-year old Charlie.

Main Character Throughline

Charlie Babbitt — Younger hustler brother

Main Character Throughline

Charlie is in a situation, trapped on the road far from his crumbling business in a car that has come to symbolize his father’s contempt for him, with a brother whose fastidious routine drives him crazy.  He is plunged into the role of brother and caretaker, and must direct his efforts beyond his own needs.

Main Character Concern

At the beginning of the story Charlie’s concern for the future is that his car deal must go through:
CHARLIE:  All of my money is tied up in those cars.  If I don’t get my money out I’m finished.
Later, after learning about the $3 million dollar inheritance, Charlie is sure getting the money will solve his problems:
CHARLIE:  I need that money.
But by the end of the story he wants Raymond to be part of his future, and plans to visit Raymond at the institution in two weeks time.

Main Character Issue

Charlie is unwilling to reevaluate his feelings toward his father.  He is so embittered toward his father that when he learns of his death he shows no emotion.  He merely apologizes to Susanna because their weekend plans are ruined.  When Susanna comments on his lack of emotion, Charlie explains:
CHARLIE:  Look, I told you before we had a falling out a long time ago.  My mother died when I was two.  It was just him and me.  We just didn’t get along.
When the lawyer reads Charlie father’s last words expressing regret over their estrangement, Charlie is unmoved.  Just as he did as a teenager, he is determined to get what he feels he deserves in spite of his father’s wishes.  This time he steals Raymond instead of the car.  When asked why, he replies:
CHARLIE:  My father has stuck it to me all of my life.

Main Character Counterpoint

Openness is explored by Charlie in terms of his brother.  In spite of his frustration with Raymond, Charlie tries to understand and reach his introspective brother.
CHARLIE:  You can’t tell me you’re not in there somewhere.
He slows the trip down further by taking Raymond to a small town general practitioner where Charlie finally begins to appreciate Raymond’s gift rather than be annoyed by it.

Main Character Thematic Conflict
Preconception vs.Openness

At first Charlie holds onto his prejudices against his father which spill over into his heartless attitude toward Raymond.  However, Charlie’s tendency toward openness allows him to acknowledge Raymond’s genius with numbers:
CHARLIE:  He’s a genius. [...] That’s amazing, Ray, you should work for NASA or something.  Charlie’s openness further cuts through his annoyance with Raymond leading him to: Discover that his childhood pal Rain Man was Raymond; win enough money in Las Vegas to save his business; teach Raymond to dance in their Vegas hotel suite.

Main Character Problem

Charlie creates problems by trying to control all aspects of his life.  Since his estrangement with his father, Charlie has refused to let anyone into his heart including his caring girlfriend.  He controls the car deal by lying to his customers about the EPA and giving them a discount; he lies to his banker about sending a check over via a mail girl; he contemplates bribing the EPA officials to clear his Lamberghinis.
CHARLIE:  Look, have you tried cash?  How much can an EPA guy earn in a week… (Bass, p. 3)
He attempts to manipulate Raymond and Susanna by telling them Dr. Bruner wants him and Raymond to spend time together.

Main Character Solution

Once Charlie can release his anger toward his father, and animosity toward his brother, he can begin to be a compassionate human being.  A concrete example of his letting go is when he gives up his fight for half of the inheritance, and once again, when he gives up the custody battle for his brother.  This effort allows him to begin a manageable and rewarding relationship with Raymond.

Main Character Symptom

Charlie focuses on the help he’s not getting from the objective characters.  Mr. Mooney doesn’t tell him the name of the beneficiary; Dr. Bruner won’t give him half of the inheritance; Susanna won’t stay and assist him with Raymond.  Charlie uses the method of helping others to get what he wants.  He slashes the cost of the cars when his customers become tired of waiting; when Dr. Bruner reports neither he nor the hospital benefits from the inheritance, Charlie offers to help Bruner get some of the funds.

Main Character Response

Charlie’s approach to solving problems is to undermine others’ efforts.  For example, he undermines Dr. Bruner’s control of Raymond by removing his brother from Walbrook, and later, does everything to block the doctor’s efforts to bring Raymond back to the institution.
Doctor:  I’m just a doctor making a recommendation to the court.
CHARLIE:  You guys have already made up your minds.  I’ll see you in court.  My brother came further with me in a week than he did with you in 20 years.  That’s the truth. . . . I had a father I hardly knew.  A mother I didn’t know at all.  I found out a few days ago that I have a brother, and I want to be with him.  And I’m suppose to give him up?  [...]  I didn’t hurt him.  He’s not hurting me.  We’re not hurting you.  Why are you interfering?  This is my family.  This is my family do you understand that?

Main Character Unique Ability

Charlie’s willingness toward openness forces him to re-evaluate his relationship with his father, value Raymond as family, give up his selfish desire for half the inheritance, and put Raymond’s welfare first.

Main Character Critical Flaw

Charlie denies his feelings of hurt and disappointment, covering them up with an aloof attitude.  It costs him a relationship with his father—he ran away from home returning only after his father’s death; nearly costs him his girlfriend—disgusted with his stubbornness she leaves him; almost keeps him from knowing his brother—Charlie’s callousness blinds him to Raymond’s endearing qualities and special abilities.

Main Character Benchmark

The more time it takes to get to L.A., the more Charlie comes to understand and grow closer to his brother, and begins to fulfill his brother’s needs willingly:  he buys a portable television so Raymond won’t miss People’s Court; has Raymond’s bed moved by the window in their Las Vegas suite; stocks up on cheese puffs at his home.  By doing these things for his brother, Charlie is growing into a better person.

Additional Main Character Information →
Main Character Description

“CHARLIE BABBITT.  Mid-twenties, with dark good looks and a restless intelligence behind the eyes.  His clothes show a trace of flash, but they are expensive.  Then again, they would be if it took his last dollar…”  (Ronald Bass, p. 1)

Main Character Throughline Synopsis

Charlie lives fast, thinks fast, makes fast money, and can charm anyone out of what he wants, until his father dies leaving Charlie only a car and some rose bushes, and bestowing a $3 million estate to someone else.  Charlie tries to make a deal with the trustee of the estate and fails.  He stumbles upon his autistic brother Raymond, the recipient of the inheritance, someone Charlie can’t charm.  Charlie kidnaps Raymond from the mental institution, and tries to get him to L.A. fast via a plane, but fails.  Forced to take the slow route to California, Charlie gradually changes his mind about his fast track life without emotional commitment.  He comes to love Raymond and lets him return to the institution where he’ll get the best care.

Main Character Backstory

Charlie’s mother died when he was two years old.  He was a “late” child and after his mother’s death, Charlie’s father was unable to express affection toward him:  CHARLIE:  The only things he cared about were those rose bushes and that car.
When Charlie was sixteen and brought home a good report card, he requested a victory drive in his father’s prized ‘49 Roadmaster.  His father refused.  Charlie stole the keys and took his buddies for a drive anyway.  His father reported the car stolen and the boys were jailed.  The other boys were bailed out by their dads immediately, but Charlie’s father left him in jail for two days. 
CHARLIE:  My father has stuck it to me all of my life.
Scared, furious, and hurt, Charlie left home after that and never spoke to his father again.  Since his late teens, Charlie has had only himself to rely upon, and to get what he feels he deserves in life.  His hard edge has been honed by necessity and life’s disappointments.

Influence Character Throughline

Raymond Babbitt — Charlie's older autistic savant brother

Influence Character Throughline

The fixed mind set of Sanford Babbitt is shown through Raymond.  Leaving his entire fortune to Raymond and nothing for his younger son defines how Sanford reacted to Charlie’s abandonment.  Although Raymond doesn’t share the same belief, he still uses the same fixed attitude techniques: he won’t go on an airplane; he must buy underwear at a particular Cincinnati K-Mart; no one can touch him; he will only eat the “menu item of the day” for dinner.

Influence Character Concern

Raymond must satisfy his most basic needs in a specific way: on Mondays he must have pizza for dinner; the maple syrup must be on the table before the pancakes arrive; he must sleep by the window each night; no one can touch him.  These demands are taken for granted at Walbrook, but when they are placed on Charlie they create conflict.

Influence Character Issue

Raymond’s autism has denied him the capacity to relate to anyone in a normal way.  He also has been denied any chance of a normal home life, or a relationship with his brother, because Sanford Babbitt believed Raymond was a threat to young Charlie.

Influence Character Counterpoint

Raymond’s traumatic reaction to remembering the bath accident when Charlie was two years old, causes Charlie to assure him that he didn’t hurt the baby.
RAYMOND:  Hot water hurt baby!
CHARLIE:  Hurt me?  Hurt me?
CHARLIE:  I’m not burned.  I’m not burned.  It’s okay.  It’s okay.
Raymond calms down and pats Charlie’s head, now knowing he didn’t hurt Charlie, and bringing the episode to a resolution.

Influence Character Thematic Conflict
Denial vs.Closure

For years Raymond was denied normal contact with his family and a chance at interaction with the world at large, however slight.  Once Raymond is exposed to his brother, closure is possible: Raymond is finally assured that he didn’t hurt his brother twenty years ago; he learns how to dance; he kisses a woman in the elevator.

Influence Character Problem

Raymond’s use of consider poses problems for Charlie.  Raymond doesn’t consider anyone else, contemplating the world only in reference to himself: No matter that Charlie needs to get to L.A. quickly, Raymond weighs the possibility of a plane crashing and will not get on one; Raymond doesn’t even consider going out when it rains, further frustrating Charlie; he intensely ponders the way clothes fall in a clothes dryer, rather than watch the expensive portable television Charlie bought for him.

Influence Character Solution

If Raymond would reconsider his conclusion that any flight that’s not a Qantas flight will crash, that he can’t go out when it rains, that the only place to get underwear is at a certain K-Mart in Cincinnati, then the trip would go much faster and he wouldn’t have to experience the anxiety of strange motel rooms, not to mention he would be settled into one place more quickly.

Influence Character Symptom

Raymond’s focus on pursuit causes problems for Charlie: He goes after the moaning sounds coming from Charlie and Susanna’s bedroom; he wants to go back to Cincinnati to buy underwear; he pursues a win on the “wheel of fortune” in the casino and loses $3,000; he pursues the hooker in the bar and tells her he’s been counting cards, something taboo in a casino.

Influence Character Response

Raymond’s use of avoidance to side-step his problems impacts Charlie: He won’t board an airplane and has a fit when forced to, causing Charlie embarrassment at the airport and a delay in their journey; he retreats into reciting “Who’s on First” whenever he’s put into an unfamiliar room; later in the trip his avoidance of touching another person frustrates Charlie when he wants to hold Raymond.

Influence Character Unique Ability

Raymond ends Charlie’s animosity toward him by revealing that he is the Rain Man, Charlie’s imaginary friend who sang to him when he was a scared two-year-old.
CHARLIE:  You.  You’re the Rain Man?  [...] You were the one who sang to me?
CHARLIE:  What was that song.  What did you sing?
Raymond begins to sing “I Saw Her Standing There” and Charlie joins in.  This incident compels Charlie to changes his attitude toward Raymond.

Influence Character Critical Flaw

Raymond’s narrow viewpoint of life causes him more anxiety when Charlie becomes frustrated and leaves him alone in the car.  Unattended, Raymond wanders through a small town where his habit to fixate on things makes him stop in the middle of a busy street when a sign flashes “DON’T WALK,” and he nearly gets him injured.

Influence Character Benchmark

As Raymond gets further away from Walbrook, some of his gut reactions occur less frequently.  He will let Charlie touch him sometimes; he allows Charlie to take care of his daily needs; he shares meals and motel rooms with his younger brother.

More Influence Character Information →
Influence Character Description

“Early forties, with vague anxious features.  He stands near the car, jotting notes quickly in a small notebook.”  (Ronald Bass, p.  27)

Influence Character Throughline Synopsis

Raymond Babbitt follows his brother off of the grounds of Walbrook expecting a short trip, but gets a week-long excursion instead.  As he is lead through America, he learns to accept another person into his life.

Influence Character Backstory

Raymond Babbitt, an autistic savant about forty, has been institutionalized at Walbrook for twenty years because he accidentally burned the infant Charlie with bath water.  Dr. Bruner explains Raymond’s condition:
DR. BRUNER:  Raymond has a problem communicating and learning.  He can’t even express himself or probably even understand his own emotions in a traditional way.  There are dangers everywhere for Raymond.  Routines, rituals are all he has to protect himself. [...]  Well, it’s the way he acts, sleeps, eats, uses the bathroom, walks, talks, everything.  Any break from that routine is terrifying. [...] He doesn’t understand the concept of money.

Relationship Story Throughline

""The Rain Man Revisited""

Relationship Story Throughline

Charlie believes he can manipulate Raymond just like he does everyone else by using lies, charm, or negotiation.  Instead, it’s Raymond who manipulates Charlie.  Raymond’s rigid way of thinking leaves little room for negotiation, driving Charlie crazy.

Relationship Story Concern

Charlie and Raymond become brothers, but each have been an “only” child for so long the transformation creates conflict between them.  Charlie doesn’t know how to be a brother.  He’s surly when expected to be his brother’s keeper, caring for Raymond’s needs.  At first Raymond only regards Charlie as an unannounced visitor at the institution; a frightening intruder into his ordered world.  Eventually they do connect emotionally and become true brothers:
CHARLIE:  I like having you for my big brother.

Relationship Story Issue

At first Charlie is only committed to getting half the inheritance, and in the process uproots Raymond from his carefully structured environment which causes Raymond much pain and anxiety.  Later, Charlie becomes just as committed to having Raymond live with him in Los Angeles, regardless of Raymond’s inability to function in a normal setting without professional care.

Relationship Story Counterpoint

Responsibility is seen in the subjective story when Charlie realizes that Raymond truly can’t judge for himself and is upset by the doctor’s questions.  Then he decides it’s his job to end Raymond’s humiliation, stop the painful interrogation, and let Raymond go back to Walbrook.

Relationship Story Thematic Conflict
Commitment vs.Responsibility

Commitment is explored in the subjective story, but it’s responsibility that wins out.  Charlie comes to believe he’s the one who should take care of his brother, and fights to convince the psychiatrists of this.
CHARLIE: You have to understand that when we started out together that he was only my brother in name.  And this morning we had pancakes…
RAYMOND:  Maple syrup on the table.  And Charlie Babbitt made a joke.
CHARLIE:  See? I made a connection.
After it’s obvious that Raymond hasn’t truly changed, Charlie realizes his commitment to have Raymond live with him is not the responsible choice for Raymond’s well being.

Relationship Story Problem

The issue of control creates problems between Charlie and Raymond:  Charlie is determined to manage Raymond to his advantage which means getting his brother on a plane to Los Angeles, but Raymond won’t be persuaded as his only defense against the world is absolute control over what he will and will not do.  To Charlie’s dismay, Raymond can’t be manipulated by any of his usual methods:  Raymond won’t get on a plane; won’t ride along a busy highway where accidents can happen; won’t go out in the rain.

Relationship Story Solution

Uncontrolled creates conditions that lead to solving the subjective story problem.  Raymond’s demands undo Charlie’s plan to get to Los Angeles quickly.  Charlie loses control over his life, and as a result learns to love and appreciate his brother.  Raymond is dropped into an uncontrolled environment.  This forces him to relate to Charlie ever so slightly: he allows Charlie to touch him during the dance lesson; he responds to Charlie’s joke; learns that K-Mart’s suck; accepts another person into his inner world.

Relationship Story Symptom

Charlie and Raymond focus their efforts on conscience.  Raymond becomes terrified when he’s reminded that he burned the infant Charlie with hot bath water.  Charlie then realizes that Raymond’s concern for his safety instigated his older brother’s twenty-year stay at the institution, and becomes more sympathetic towards Raymond.

Relationship Story Response

Raymond and Charlie’s efforts toward temptation creates conflict:  Charlie gives into the urge to find the anonymous beneficiary of the inheritance, steal Raymond, then ransom him for half the inheritance.  Raymond’s unable to resist filling his mind with data at every opportunity, betting on the “wheel of fortune” at the casino and losing $3,000, being attracted to the hooker because of her glittery necklace and confessing to counting cards.

Relationship Story Catalyst

Charlie uses excuses to justify kidnapping Raymond.  When asked why he took Raymond from the institution:
CHARLIE:  Because I’m pissed at him.
SUSANNA:  At whom?
CHARLIE:  At my father.
SUSANNA:  You’re pissed at your father and you bring Raymond here.  Why?
CHARLIE:  I don’t know why.  Because I got him and they want him.

Relationship Story Inhibitor

Charlie’s hard-ass attitude slows down the process of getting close to Raymond:  He taunts Raymond when he handles the Shakespeare book; turns the lights out on Raymond instead of apologizing for being rude when Raymond walked in on his lovemaking to Susanna; screams at Raymond for insisting they return to Cincinnati to buy underwear.  Raymond’s instinctive attitude of exclusion makes it near impossible for him to bond with his brother even slightly: Raymond won’t let anyone touch him; is inflexible about his eating and sleeping habits; virtually ignores the people around him.  When Charlie first meets Raymond, he strikes out at him after reading an inscription in one of his books:  “Happy Birthday Raymond with Fondest Wishes, Father.”
CHARLIE:  You like Shakespeare, Ray?
RAYMOND:  I don’t know.
CHARLIE:  You don’t know.  You read “Macbeth?”
RAYMOND:  I don’t know.
CHARLIE:  You read the “The Twelfth Night?”
RAYMOND:  (distraught) Vern!
SUSANNA:  (to Charlie)  Stop it.
CHARLIE:  You read all these stories that are in this book and you don’t know if you read this book.  (Laughs)  You don’t know.  Don’t know.  It’s okay, Ray.  I won’t touch anything else.

Relationship Story Benchmark

As the story progresses Raymond and Charlie act like travelers on the road: They ride together in the Buick; eat at roadside restaurants; share motel rooms; watch television together—all very uneasily at first.  Then they move into a comfort zone where they almost act like brothers: Charlie warns Raymond that if the batteries wear down in his Watchman, he’ll miss the “People’s Court” at three o’clock; Raymond doesn’t like having suntan lotion smeared on his face, but lets Charlie do it anyway; they wear similar new suits at the casino; they work as a team to win money at Blackjack.

Additional Relationship Story Information →
Relationship Story Throughline Synopsis

“Charlie Babbitt: tough (or so he thinks), hustling and bitterly proud.  When his father dies, he imagines that he is in line to inherit a fortune.  But his father has other ideas.  Raymond Babbitt: the brother Charlie never knew, eighteen years his senior, institutionalized, trapped in the prison of his mind and haunted by shadows from his childhood.  He is the one who’s left the $3 million dollar inheritance.  When Charlie kidnaps Raymond in an attempt to get the money, little does he realize that he has launched them both on an odyssey across America—a journey that takes them back into the past, into loss and into an unexpected rebirth of love.”
(Fleischer, back cover)

Relationship Story Backstory

Charlie’s one happy childhood memory is of the Rain Man:
CHARLIE:  When I was a kid and I was scared, the Rain Man would come and sing to me.
SUSANNA:  What happened to him?
CHARLIE:  Nothing.  I grew up.
Charlie learns he has an autistic older brother, Raymond, who’s been in an institution for twenty years.  It was Raymond who sang to him, but when Raymond accidentally burnt the infant Charlie with hot bath water, their father sent him away to Walbrook.

Additional Story Points

Key Structural Appreciations

Overall Story Goal

Everyone is concerned with Charlie’s trying to obtain half of the inheritance.  Charlie kidnaps Raymond to force Dr. Bruner to turn over the money; Raymond wants to return to the institution where he feels safe; Dr. Bruner works to get Raymond back, fearing losing custody of Raymond; Susanna fights with Charlie over his obsession to get the inheritance.

Overall Story Consequence

As a consequence of Charlie’s failure to get half the inheritance and custody of Raymond, he becomes a compassionate person who values and accepts his brother as he is.  Charlie also becomes more sensitive in his relationship with his girlfriend, Susanna.

Overall Story Cost

On the way back to Los Angeles, Susanna’s need to love a caring man makes her give up Charlie; Raymond’s need for absolute control costs him extreme anxiety when he’s forced to board a plane; Charlie’s desire for money (i.e. security) temporarily loses him his girlfriend, his business, and almost costs him his chance to know the only family he has left.  Dr. Bruner’s desire to protect his patient causes him to be inflexible when dealing with Charlie, and it nearly costs him Raymond; Bruner has to travel to Los Angeles to get Raymond back; offering Charlie money costs Bruner his pride.

Overall Story Dividend

Charlie gains a brother that he’ll visit in two weeks and long time afterward; Raymond gains a new friend; Susanna will have a boyfriend who’ll be more compassionate; Dr. Bruner won’t have to worry about custody suits in the future; Lenny may have a job because Charlie recouped his money in Las Vegas.

Overall Story Requirements

In order to obtain the inheritance, Charlie goes to the bank and finds out who’s got it; he investigates Walbrook; attempts to get half from Dr. Bruner; Dr. Bruner does all he can to stop Charlie from getting the inheritance.  He doesn’t give Charlie any part of it, and refuses to identify the beneficiary of the will.  After Charlie’s turned down, he takes Raymond from Walbrook.

Overall Story Prerequisites

Charlie has to adapt to the lifestyle of being on the road; assume the role of brother/caretaker to Raymond.  Raymond has to be more tolerant of change during the trip.  Dr. Bruner, acting in the capacity of trustee of the will, administrator of Walbrook and Raymond’s doctor, must protect the beneficiary and turn down Charlie’s demands for half the inheritance.

Overall Story Preconditions

Charlie’s knee-jerk reaction upon learning he has a brother is anger:
CHARLIE:  Why didn’t anyone tell me I had a brother?
DR. BRUNER:  What would you have done about it?
CHARLIE: I don’t know.
Dr. Bruner’s immediate response to Charlie’s inquiry is to clam up.  Charlie’s anger and hurt drives him to simply kidnap Raymond from Walbrook without thinking about the consequences.  Susanna’s reaction to Charlie’s treatment of Raymond is outrage.

Overall Story Forewarnings

As it takes more time to get to Los Angeles, Charlie’s car deal becomes closer to collapsing.  Yet over the same time period Charlie becomes more accepting of, and loving towards Raymond so when they finally reaches Los Angeles Charlie no longer cares about getting the inheritance.

Plot Progression

Dynamic Act Appreciations

Overall Story

Overall Story Signpost 1

Susanna understands Charlie a little better after he relates the story of his teen joyride in his father’s ‘49 Buick, and how it caused the irreparable schism between them; Charlie understands that he’s been cut from his father’s will.

Overall Story Journey 1 from Understanding to Learning

Charlie’s bitter disappointment over the will is compounded with crippling hurt when he learns the beneficiary is a “secret” brother.  Susanna’s tender moment of understanding is shattered when she learns the lengths Charlie will go to in order to get half the inheritance.  Dr. Bruner’s cool, professional appreciation of Charlie’s feelings turns to frustration after he learns of Raymond’s new situation as a hostage.

Overall Story Signpost 2

Charlie learns from the bank executive where the beneficiary lives; learns that Dr. Bruner is loyal to his father and won’t tell him who received the inheritance; accidentally learns that he has an autistic older brother.  Dr. Bruner learns how determined Charlie is to get his share of the inheritance.  Raymond learns his father is dead and his brother has grown up.  Susanna learns that Charlie will do anything, no matter how amoral, to get what he wants.

Overall Story Journey 2 from Learning to Doing

Dr. Bruner passionately pleas for the safe return of Raymond to Walbrook.  Susanna heatedly condemns Charlie’s motives for keeping Raymond and angrily leaves him.  Charlie bitterly learns of Raymond’s emotional limitations and begrudgingly attends to the daily tasks necessary for coping with his brother on the road.

Overall Story Signpost 3

Lenny informs Charlie that the cars have been seized.  Raymond analyzes the fall of the clothes in the laundry mat dryer; memorizes the juke box numbers in the diner; counts cards for Charlie in the middle of the dessert.  Charlie pawns his watch; dresses himself and Raymond up in suits; plays Blackjack; teaches Raymond to dance.  Dr. Bruner travels to Los Angeles and offers Charlie $250,000 to give Raymond back.

Overall Story Journey 3 from Doing to Obtaining

Pressured by the collapse of his business, Charlie tutors Raymond in Blackjack to win in Las Vegas, and in the process strikes emotional gold when he realizes Raymond’s true value as a brother.  Dr. Bruner’s concern for Raymond’s welfare prompts him make a calculated bid for his return to Walbrook.

Overall Story Signpost 4

Charlie does not get half the inheritance for himself, but instead achieves a lasting bond with Raymond.  Raymond returns to Walbrook with a new portable television, and a new “announced visitor” in two weeks.  Dr. Bruner gets his patient back, and retains unchallenged authority over the inheritance.

Main Character

Main Character Signpost 1

Charlie believes that getting half of the $3,000,000 inheritance will save his business and ensure his future.

Main Character Journey 1 from Future to Present

Frustrated that his hopes for a secure future have been undermined by his father’s bitterness, Charlie desperately holds onto what he’s got at the moment—Raymond.

Main Character Signpost 2

Charlie deals with being cut out of his father’s will; he adjusts to having a brother that no one ever told him about; he copes with his feelings of jealousy for not having his father’s love by taking Raymond from the institution.

Main Character Journey 2 from Present to Past

Troubled by his crumbling business and the slow progress of the road trip, Charlie struggles to understand the reason for the loss of his family.

Main Character Signpost 3

Charlie investigates the one fond memory of his childhood, the Rain Man, only to discover that twenty years ago he indirectly caused the exile of his “imaginary” friend, and set the course for a bitter relationship between himself and his father:
CHARLIE:  That’s why they put you away, they thought you would hurt me.

Main Character Journey 3 from Past to Progress

When Charlie realizes Raymond is the Rain Man, he reverently celebrates the twenty-year reunion by singing the old Beatles’ song, “I Saw Her Standing There.”  The revised past allows Charlie to grow emotionally, and to become a more loving, understanding person.

Main Character Signpost 4

Confident in his newfound bond with his brother, Charlie has grown to the point where he reveals his deepest feelings to the doctors, even admitting honestly to his earlier less than noble motives:
DOCTOR:  Dr. Bruner states a week ago you stole Raymond out of the institution and you were willing to trade him for one and a half million dollars?
CHARLIE:  My father died.  I was upset.  That was wrong.
DOCTOR:  So last week you were upset and this week you suddenly found some devotion for your brother.  And you want to take care of him for the rest of your life.
DOCTOR:  [...] In the course of a week you came to have an understanding with him.
CHARLIE:  You have to understand that when we started out together that he was only my brother in name.  And this morning we had pancakes.  [...∞1 See? I made a connection.

Influence Character

Influence Character Signpost 1

Raymond Babbitt definitely knows that the ‘49 Buick Roadmaster parked in front of the institution is his father’s, Sanford Babbitt’s.  Raymond contemplates the fact that today is Monday and not Saturday, the day of his father’s regular visits when he gets to drive slow in the driveway.

influence Character Journey 1 from Conscious to Memory

Raymond’s considers why the ‘49 Buick Roadmaster is at Walbrook on a Monday instead of Saturday, his father’s usual day to visit.  His memory of the car’s original brown seats and the exact date of his mother’s death signals an undeniable blood connection between him and Charlie.

Influence Character Signpost 2

There’s more to Raymond than what is first seen.  His extraordinary memory leads everyone around him, especially Charlie, into the fascinating territory of his complex mind.  For example, he stuns the waitress Sally Dibbs by reciting her telephone number, a number he had read along with hundreds of others in a telephone book the night before.

Influence Character Journey 2 from Memory to Preconscious

Raymond’s rote memory tricks are something he accomplishes effortlessly and without emotion.  But when he’s pressured to perform common actions such as entering a hotel room or boarding a plane, Raymond reacts with instant mindless panic.

Influence Character Signpost 3

Raymond’s violent gut reaction to flying on a plane, or to doing anything outside his accepted behavior, forces Charlie to interact with Raymond more intensely and intimately.

Influence Character Journey 3 from Preconscious to Subconscious

Raymond panics after causing the toaster oven to set off the smoke alarm, and finding the kitchen door chain-locked.  Later, with loving assurances and guidance from those who care about him, Raymond displays fundamental affection and love, and bonds with his brother in his own subtle way.  He reminiscences about their Las Vegas experience:
RAYMOND:  One for bad.  Two for good.

Influence Character Signpost 4

Raymond’s deep instinctual love for his brother breaks through his autistic world as he affectionately spells out his brother’s name after the psychological evaluation hearing:

Relationship Story

Relationship Story Signpost 1

After Charlie and Raymond first meet, Charlie comes up with the idea of taking Raymond to Los Angeles until he can figure out a way to gain control of the inheritance.

Relationship Story Journey 1 from Conceiving to ConceptualizingInspired by anger and jealousy, Charlie thinks of kidnapping Raymond and ransoming him for half the inheritance. This sets off an emotional roller coaster that neither Charlie nor Raymond could ever have imagined as part of their journey across America.
Relationship Story Signpost 2

Charlie imagines a quick, unemotional plane ride to Los Angeles followed by a fast custody hearing arranged by his lawyer.  But Raymond’s concept of the trip involves a slow, no-risk road excursion with the special-of-the-day dining and game show entertainment.  Much to Charlie’s chagrin, it is Raymond’s plan that is implemented.

Relationship Story Journey 2 from Conceptualizing to Being

Raymond and Charlie’s different images of cross-country travel create tension between them.  Charlie stops the car in the middle of a deserted road, jumps out and screams at Raymond in pure frustration:
CHARLIE:  Underwear is UNDERWEAR.  What difference does it make where you buy it.  It’s underwear wherever you buy it, in Cincinnati or wherever!  [...] You can’t tell me you’re not in there somewhere.
They uneasily settle into a way of coexisting on the road, moving into the roles of babysitter and oversized adolescent.

Relationship Story Signpost 3

Charlie and Raymond act like a slick team of high rollers in Las Vegas; they pretend to be dance partners in their hotel suite.

Relationship Story Journey 3 from Being to Becoming

Raymond and Charlie change from acting like buddies, simply to get along during their travels, to obtaining a newfound family relationship.  They share a quiet moment together after the psychological hearing, their heads tilted closely together.  Raymond allows Charlie to kiss him, sealing a brotherly partnership.

Relationship Story Signpost 4

Charlie’s transformation from a hardened loner into a loving brother is illustrated when he kisses Raymond and says:
CHARLIE:  I like having you for a big brother.
Raymond’s transformation is illustrated by his relaxed demeanor with Charlie at the train station, changing from a K-Mart guy to a dapper GQ man:
RAYMOND:  K-Mart sucks.

Plot Progression Visualizations

Dynamic Act Schematics


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