Zaneta's Reviews > The Graduate

The Graduate by Charles Webb
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Jul 18, 11

Read from July 17 to 18, 2011

I got this book, appropriately enough, as a college graduation/birthday gift. I've never seen the movie except for the infamous ending and (just now) the trailer, which actually gives away the entire plot (boy graduates from college, is seduced by an older woman, and then falls in love with older woman's daughter). But despite the little I've seen of the film, the novel has none of the quirky humor and appeal the film seems to have.

The plot itself is a "What is going on?" scenario. Bypassing the whole "why would Mrs. Robinson seduce a 21-year-old," which is the first half of the novel, I had most of my problems with the second half. Benjamin "falls in love" with Elaine after only one awful date, decides to marry her despite not having seen her for months, and moves to Berkeley to be near her--even though she despises him. Elaine falls in love with Ben, despite having believed just moments before that he had raped her mother. What is going on?

I also found none of the characters appealing or redeeming. Benjamin is a conflicted, college graduate yuppie who decides to give up on his promising future and live off his parents wealth. He is one of the most apathetic, unmotivated, and moody characters I have ever read--and not in a charming way. Elaine comes off as an airhead. And Mrs. Robinson, who is the most interesting character, is too elusive. In the end, you don't understand the characters any better than when you started.

Despite my major conflicts with the novel, I can understand Ben's "I don't know what to do, but I don't don't want to do that" feeling that comes with a diploma. Although Webb went a little overboard, I think he captured that essence pretty well. But the story was short and intriguing enough for me to finish it in a day. So in the end, it was pretty alright. But that's about it.
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