Forrest Gump

Forrest Gump

    Forrest Gump
Photo Credit: Everett Collection

Character Analysis

(Avoiding Spoilers)

Grew up… with his mother about a quarter mile off Route 17, about a half-mile from the town of Greenbow, Alabama. Their house had been in his mother's family for generations. Since it was just the two of them, his mother rented rooms out. That was their only source of income.

Living… with an IQ of 75. Although his football coach in college called him the stupidest son of a bitch alive, Forrest has never let his disability get in his way. He makes the most with what he has. As his mother always reminded him, he is not stupid because “stupid is as stupid does.”

Profession… various. He has been a college football star, a Vietnam war hero, and a shrimp boat captain. Of these, he liked the Army the best. As he explains, "I was like one of them round pegs. It's not really hard. You just make your bed real neat and remember to stand up straight.” He ended up winning the Medal of Honor for his bravery in battle in which he saved the lives of a number of people including his commanding officer, Lieutenant Dan, who is still a good friend. Though Dan has not always been appreciative that Forrest saved his life. Lieutenant Dan says he wished he lost his life courageously in battle instead of living his life in a wheelchair without his legs. Forrest is helping him look on the bright side of things; he is quite an optimist.

Interests… running. Despite the fact he has a bad back, Forrest is an amazing runner. His latest run took 3 years, 2 months, 14 days, and 16 hours. He started running and just couldn't stop. He is also a great Ping Pong player. His skills earned him a spot on the All-American Ping Pong team and traveled to China for “Ping Pong Diplomacy.” Forrest became a celebrity for this and appeared on the Dick Cavvett show. Forrest can’t believe he is even “famous-er than Captain Kangaroo.”

Relationship status… single. For him, no woman has ever been able to live up to Jenny, a beautiful girl he knew in grade school. When they were growing up, they bonded over their different challenges – she was a victim of abuse by her father, and Forrest was the target of merciless teasing by the other kids. Jenny was a good friend to him then, and they are still close. As he says, "Me and Jenny goes together like peas and carrots. She's my girl." His love for her is unwavering even though she has never returned his romantic love and is now a stripper and a drug addict.

Challenge… getting through the crazy years of the time period between the 1960’s to the 1980’s. The world around him is changing so fast that it is hard for Forrest to keep up. But along the way, he has met many interesting people including Elvis (who was a boarder at his Greenbow home growing up), President Lyndon Baines Johnson (who awarded him the Medal of Honor) and John Lennon (who was a fellow guest on the Dick Cavett show). 

Personality… simple but wise. With a low IQ, Forrest doesn’t have the capability of always appreciating complexities. But that’s the charm of him. He boils down life to what is truly most important – being happy with what you have and treating other people well. All in all, he may be the smartest guy we know.


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