Forrest Gump (character): Wikis

  
  

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Forrest Gump
ForrestGump2.jpg
Tom Hanks' portrayal of Forrest Gump in the film Forrest Gump
Created by Winston Groom
Portrayed by Tom Hanks as an adult, Michael Conner Humphreys as a child
Information
Gender Male
Occupation businessman, shrimp boat captain, football player, Vietnam veteran
Family Mrs. Gump (mother)
Spouse(s) Jenny Curran
Children Forrest Gump, Jr.

Forrest Gump (born June 6, 1944 in Greenbow, Alabama) is a fictional character who first appears in the 1986 eponymous novel by Winston Groom. Forrest Gump also appeared on screen in the 1994 film of the same name directed by Robert Zemeckis. Gump was portrayed as a child by Michael Conner Humphreys and portrayed as an adult by Tom Hanks, who won an Academy Award for the role. The portrayal of Forrest in the novel is notably different from the portrayal in the film. He later reappears in the 1995 novel Gump and Co.

Contents

Life

Early years

Gump was born near the fictional small town of Greenbow, Alabama, on June 6, 1944 (the same day that the Allied forces began Operation Overlord). His father was absent during his life, his mother saying he was "on vacation". His mother named him after Nathan Bedford Forrest, a noted Confederate general in the American Civil War and the first Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan who is supposedly related to Gump. She intended his name to be a reminder that "sometimes we all do things that, well, just don't make no sense."

Forrest was born with strong legs but a crooked spine. He was forced to wear leg braces which made walking difficult and running near impossible. He also had a relatively low I.Q. of 75 which nearly prevented him from being accepted into public school (his mother managed to get the principal to reconsider by sleeping with him). Despite his physical and mental challenges, Forrest's mother told him not to let anyone tell him he was different, telling him "stupid is as stupid does".

Forrest and his mother lived in a large house just outside the town of Greenbow. They made money by renting out rooms to travellers. One of their guests was a young Elvis Presley. Forrest liked dancing to his music and his leg braces gave him a peculiar dancing style that would supposedly inspire the young Elvis' famous "hip dancing" after he became famous.

On the bus ride to school, Forrest met Jenny Curran and was instantly taken with her. "I had never seen anything so beautiful in my life," he would later say of her, "She was like an angel." The two became close friends, often playing around a large nearby tree. Jenny was one of the few people besides his mother to accept Forrest as he was, helping him learn to read and standing up to bullies who harassed him. However, Jenny's home life was not nearly as happy as Forrest's: her mother had died when she was five and her father was an abusive alcoholic who molested his children (until Jenny was taken away to live with her grandmother), and Forrest's friendship offered her an escape.

One day, a group of bullies were throwing rocks at Forrest and chasing him on their bikes. Jenny told Forrest to just run away. As Forrest struggled to run, his leg braces broke apart. Once he was free of them, Forrest was able to run incredibly fast. Forrest would never wear leg braces again and was able to run everywhere he wanted to after that.

College

Forrest and Jenny remained close friends all the way through high school, though he remained a target for bullies. One day, while running from some bullies, he interrupted the local high school's football practice by running across the field faster than all the players. This feat caught the attention of Alabama Crimson Tide head football coach Paul "Bear" Bryant, who was at the practice scouting football players. After his incredible running ability impressed the coach, Forrest received a football scholarship to the University of Alabama, where his speed helped them win several games. He was later named to the All-American team and got to meet President John F. Kennedy at the White House. When asked by the President how he felt, Forrest (having drunk "'bout fifteen Dr Peppers) gave an honest answer of "I gotta pee".

Forrest was also present at the University when it was desegregated and observed Governor George Wallace denouncing the desegregation. While several citizens jeered the black students entering the campus, Forrest, not entirely understanding the situation because of his low I.Q., simply walked up to a black woman and handed her a book she dropped, saying simply "Ma'am? You dropped your book...ma'am?" before following her and the others into school.

In the Army

At his college graduation in 1967, Forrest was approached by an army recruiter who asked if he'd given any thought to his future. Soon after, Forrest would join the United States Army. On the bus Forrest met Benjamin Buford Blue, a young black man from Bayou La Batre, Alabama, who went by the nickname "Bubba". Bubba told Forrest about his family history of cooking shrimp and how he had planned to buy his own shrimping boat after getting out of the army.

Forrest did well in the army as he followed orders well without distraction; for example, he set a new company record for assembling his M14 rifle with his drill sergeant replying he would be a general. Meanwhile, Jenny had been kicked out of school for posing in Playboy and had gotten work singing in the nude at a strip club in Memphis, Tennessee. Forrest went up to visit her one night and beat up some patrons who were harassing her. Forrest tells Jenny that he loves her, but Jenny replies that he "[doesn't] know what love is." Jenny is angry but later becomes concerned when he tells her he was being deployed to Vietnam. Jenny tells him not to try being brave if he was ever in trouble and to just run away instead.

While in Vietnam, and assigned to company A, 2/47th Infantry, 3rd Brigade, 9th Infantry Division Forrest and Bubba meet their platoon leader Lieutenant Dan Taylor, whom Forrest would refer to as "Lieutenant Dan". While on patrol, Bubba proposed that he and Forrest go into the shrimping business together after their time in the army was finished. Forrest agreed.

After several uneventful months, their platoon was ambushed by the Viet Cong and several soldiers were wounded and killed. In the confusion, Forrest initially was ordered to retreat, and was separated from the rest of his platoon, but after becoming concerned for Bubba, he ran back to look for him. Instead, Forrest found Lieutenant Dan and several other wounded soldiers and carried them to safety before looking for Bubba. Forrest finally found Bubba badly wounded and managed to carry him away from the combat area before it was hit with napalm from an air strike. His last words were "I wanna go home." Sadly, Bubba died of his wounds soon after.

Forrest himself was shot in the buttocks during the firefight and recovered in an army hospital. Lieutenant Dan was in the bed next to his, having lost his legs because of his injuries. Lieutenant Dan was angry at Forrest for cheating him out of his destiny to die in battle with honor (as several of his ancestors had) and rendering him crippled.

Washington, D.C.

Forrest later receives the Medal of Honor for his bravery in Vietnam. When being awarded, President Lyndon B. Johnson asked where he was hit and when Forrest told him he whispers in his ear he'd like to see it, so Forrest, despite knowing there were people watching, drops his pants right there to show him. The feat was also nationally televised.

Shortly thereafter, Forrest went out sightseeing in Washington, D.C. and accidentally found himself among a group of veterans attending an anti-war rally led by Abbie Hoffman. While at the rally, he was reunited with Jenny, who had since become a hippie. Forrest was less enamored with her new boyfriend Wesley, the president of the SDS at Berkeley, and beat up Wesley after he saw him hit Jenny during an argument. Forrest and Jenny stayed up all night while Jenny told Forrest of her travels. Before they went their separate ways again in the morning, Forrest gave Jenny the medal of honor he earned in Vietnam.

Ping-Pong

While in the hospital, Forrest had taken up ping-pong. Rather than returning to Vietnam, Forrest was assigned to the Special Services, entertaining wounded veterans with his ping-pong skills. He would later travel to the People's Republic of China during the Ping Pong Diplomacy period.

When he returned in 1971, he was a national hero, "famouser than even Captain Kangaroo" and was invited by Dick Cavett on The Dick Cavett Show. John Lennon was also a guest on the show at the time and hearing Forrest talk about the Chinese having "no possessions" and "no religion too," inspired him to write the song "Imagine."

Soon after, Forrest was briefly reunited with Lieutenant Dan, now a bitter alcoholic, confined to a wheelchair, having lost his faith in God. Lieutenant Dan was also dismayed that Forrest, whom he declared as "an imbecile who embarrassed himself on television," was given the Medal of Honor. When Forrest told him of his and Bubba's plan to go into the shrimping business, Lieutenant Dan only laughed and joked that if Forrest was ever a shrimping boat captain, he would be Forrest's first mate.

Upon visiting President Richard Nixon he was invited by the President to stay at the Watergate Hotel complex. He was awakened by flashlights in the offices opposite his room. Believing the tenants to be having difficulty with a fusebox, Forrest calls Frank Wills at the security office to notify the maintenance crew, inadvertently initiating the Watergate scandal, which leads to President Nixon's resignation.

Shortly after this, Forrest was honorably discharged from the army with the rank of Sergeant and returned home to Alabama.

Shrimping Boat Captain

Upon his return Forrest finds the house filled with memorabilia capitalizing on his fame as a ping-pong player in China. At his mother's insistence, Forrest made $25,000 endorsing a brand of ping-pong paddles and used most of the money to travel to Bubba's home town of Bayou La Batre and purchase a boat. When someone pointed out it was bad luck to have a boat without a name, Forrest names his boat after Jenny (whom, unbeknownst to him, had descended into a life of drugs at this point and even contemplated suicide when she regretted taking that life).

Sometime later, Forrest was visited by Lieutenant Dan, who as a man of his word, had come to be Forrest's first mate. For several weeks, the two had no luck catching shrimp. Things changed, however, when the area was hit by Hurricane Carmen. Forrest's boat was the only one left standing and they found themselves with a monopoly of shrimp. Under the name Bubba Gump Shrimp Company, they soon became very wealthy. Lieutenant Dan, having faced his demons during the storm, thanked Forrest for saving his life in Vietnam, and Forrest assumes that Dan (without actually saying so) made peace with God.

Home in Alabama

Forrest returned home to Greenbow when he learned his mother was dying of cancer. After her death, Forrest stays and leaves his shrimping industry in the hands of Lieutenant Dan and retired to mowing and cutting grass and lawns, as he apparently enjoys doing it. Meanwhile, Lieutenant Dan participated in a substantial investment into what Forrest says to be "some kind of fruit company." In reality, the company was the fledgling Apple Computer, and it is implied that their investment largely kick-started Apple's rise and success. With the money he got from the Apple Computer investment, Forrest spent them on renovating the church he frequents, establishing a medical center at Bubba's hometown and gave Bubba's family his share of the investment money that is enough for them to never work again.

Jenny returns to Greenbow and moves in with Forrest. The two spend time together and Forrest later describes it as "the happiest time of my life". One night, Forrest asks Jenny to marry him, but she turns him down, saying "You don't want to marry me." Forrest replies with, "I'm not a smart man, but I know what love is." After this exchange, Jenny comes to Forrest's bedroom, tells him she loves him, and the two make love. Jenny hails a cab very early the next morning and leaves, leaving Forrest's Medal of Honor behind, unbeknownst to him before he wakes up.

Running

Forrest's newfound loneliness leads him to take a run "for no particular reason." At first, he decides to run to the end of the road, then across town, then across the county, then all the way to the Mississippi border. Eventually, he criss-crosses the country several times over a span of three years. Forrest attracts media coverage, and eventually, dozens of followers. During the run, he inspires the phrase "Shit Happens" to a bumper-sticker salesman after stepping in a pile of dog droppings. He also uses a yellow t-shirt provided to him by a designer to wipe off his face after being splattered by mud. In the process, he forms the iconic "Smiley face" logo and tells the man to "Have a nice day." One day, while running in the Western United States, Forrest decides he's tired and stops. He immediately turns around and walks back to Alabama. His followers are dumbfounded at his sudden decision. Meanwhile, Jenny has taken a job as a waitress in Savannah, Georgia and sees news coverage of Forrest's run on television.

Back to the present

Back to the present (the "present" in the film being around 1981, as seen from a car and on a bus, and televised footage of Ronald Reagan's assassination attempt), Forrest tells his latest companion on the bench, an elderly woman, he'd recently received a letter from Jenny asking him to come see her. When he tells her the address and directions he'd been given, she tells him it's only a few blocks away, and he hurries over on foot.

Forrest and Jenny are happy to see each other. Before they can do much catching up however, Forrest is introduced to Jenny's young son, a bright young boy whom she named Forrest after his father. Forrest at first thinks she met another man named Forrest, until she explains "You're his daddy, Forrest."

Forrest learns that Jenny is sick from a virus (implied to be HIV). He invites her and Little Forrest to come home and stay with him. She asks him to marry her and he accepts.

Forrest and Jenny's wedding is a quiet, intimate ceremony attended only by a handful of family and friends. Among the attendees is Lieutenant Dan, who has titanium prosthetic legs, with his Vietnamese fiancée Susan. It is the only time Jenny and Dan meet.

Forrest, Jenny, and Little Forrest have a few happy months together as a family before Jenny dies on Saturday March 22, 1982, (which was actually a Monday). Forrest has her buried under the tree where they played as children, then buys her childhood home (where her father had mistreated her) and has it bulldozed. Though he misses Jenny terribly, Forrest becomes a good father to Little Forrest.

Visiting Jenny's grave one day, he reflects on the idea of fate and destiny, wondering if Lt. Dan was right about people having their own destiny, or if his Mother was right about description of life as floating around accidentally like on a breeze. He eventually decides "maybe it's both, maybe both are happening at the same time."

Forrest is last seen outside his home, seeing Little Forrest off on his bus ride to school, telling his son he loves him.

Differences from the novel

The portrayal of Forrest in the original novel is notably different to how he was portrayed in the film. Largely, in the novel Forrest is shown to be somewhat cynical and abrasive, while in the film he is a more placid and naive person. He is also described as being an autistic savant and has extraordinary talent in numerical calculation.

Changes from the novel to the film include the deaths of Forrest's mother and Jenny, neither of whom died in the original book.

The novel also provides additional backstory on his father. It is revealed that his father was a longshoreman, who worked for United Fruit Company. He was killed when a South American spider in a crate of bananas he was unloading bit him, causing his death from a seizure. Forrest goes on a number of different adventures including being an astronaut, playing the harmonica in a band called the Cracked Eggs, becoming a professional wrestler ("The Dunce") and running for the United States Senate (with the campaign slogan "I Got to Pee").








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