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In Rain Man, a large majority of the film is premised off Charlie wanting to get the $3 million estate inheritance from Raymond, issued by their father after his death.

Well, IIRC, Raymond was sent to a mental institution at a fairly young age, and has been there ever since. Now, I can understand the argument of: well, since Raymond was placed in an institution for most of his life, his father giving him the $3 million estate is his way of making up for neglecting Raymond all these years..

However, if they know that Raymond's mentally retarded, then, why give him the responsibility of such a large estate? Or, even if it was cold hard cash, what could Raymond ever do with it if he's stuck in the mental institution, and with a limited mental capacity?

So, ultimately, was their father's issuance of the estate to Raymond instead of Charlie a gesture of apology to Raymond, or, more of an intentional insult to Charlie?

It could be argued that, if his father really was sorry for placing Raymond in the mental institution all these years, then, he could have issued the inheritance to Charlie instead, but with the stipulation that some of that estate/money be applied to taking care of Raymond (i.e., getting a small apartment for him and hiring an at-home nurse/caretaker).

With this approach, Raymond and Charlie would still have the chance get to know each other, etc., and not too much of the story would change, and both brothers would perhaps [loosely speaking] equally benefit..

  • Just a note: Raymond was an autistic savant, not mentally challenged. – JohnP May 9 '18 at 12:24
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Don't forget Dr. Bruner was placed as the executor of the estate. That means he can make financial decisions for Raymond.

The movie clearly states that Charlie gets the very car that was the cause of their undoing... and the rose bushes to remind him of what greatness he can achieve.

The remainder of the estate was given to Raymond and Dr. Bruner was assigned the executor of the estate as a favor to the family. Raymond is not old. His care until his death could conceivably cost the entirety of the liquid wealth of the estate. As executor, Dr. Bruner can sell it off as needed to pay for the care services. While I have no interviews or such to back this part of the arrangement, it is inferred from the fact that Dr. Bruner made the legal decision to give Charlie $250k, which he rejects. Perhaps he saw that number as the highest realistic amount before the lifespan costs for care would be exceeded.

So to answer in short - clearly the dad did what he did out of spite to Charlie. He could have given him something but he may have felt it more poetic to finally give him the only thing that was important to him (charlie) back in the day. He finally got that car. And the rose bushes. he definitely got the rose bushes.

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It's never been explained in the movie, but there is likely a combination of three circumstances:

  1. Charlie Babbitt (Cruise) is estranged from his father. No reason is given, but it's known he hasn't spoken to him in years.

  2. Charlie is a hustler. And not in a good way. It's likely this aspect is what led to their estrangement. And it's likely this aspect is why his father didn't leave him any money.

  3. It's not known what relationship Raymond (Hoffman) had with their father. It's very likely that they were on good terms, Raymond's hospitalization was paid for, and the father likely felt that Raymond was a better option than Charlie.

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