The setting for The Graduate is interesting in that it takes place right as American society was moving from the post-WWII boom and the idyllic days of the ’50 and early ’60’s into serious cultural conflict. Vietnam War protests were on the rise, and the “Hippie” culture of free love and self-expression was about to explode. It would seem that a “directionless” college graduate was possibly acting as a stand-in for a “directionless” society.
I was relieved to read someone else pointing out the boardinghouse guy as the only person in the whole movie who seemed to really take Ben´s behavior at face value. Choosing that particular character was interesting to; Mr.McCleery is perhaps the only reoccurring working class character in the film. One might argue that there is a point being made about the working class keeping people in check- but the point is undermined by the gas station attendant who stands by while Ben phone stalks the wedding and lies about being the Reverend.