Analysis of Forrest Gump

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Forrest Gump is a movie directed by Robert Zemecki, based on a book written by Winston Groom. I chose to analyze this movie using Foster’s methods because it is already such a heart wrenching movie, but when you dig even deeper, you start to notice things you didn’t see before. At first glance, the movie is taking us through the life of Forrest Gump. Quite an adventurous life ranging from losing a friend in war, to finding out he has a son, and just about every other plot twist you could think of in between.

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After reading How to Read Literature like a Professor, I was able to pick things out and make opinions of my own about the movie that were deeper than the average, I don’t like it or What great acting! The first thing I picked out was how significant the feather in the beginning really is. I watched the movie twice before recognizing it as anymore than a feather. In Foster’s book, How to Read Literature like a Professor, he discusses symbols (chapter 12). He teaches us that symbols aren’t always obvious, that …symbols can’t be reduced to standing for only one thing. (pg 98, Foster) and that they are universal. The white feather is a symbolic object that counts as a sign. In western culture, the shade white commonly symbolizes innocence.

The color of the feather is significant because it seems to show the innocence and purity of Forrest Gump. The audience connects the feather to Forrest Gump when it finally lands on his shoe. The feather can also be connected to one of the most famous quotes from the movie, Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get. Although it may seem like a stretch, the feather is filmed for two minutes. In those two minutes, the feather is blown to random places, on top of cars, different people’s shoulders, the ground, etc. It shows how random life can be and that you never know what lies in your path. I think the director did this to introduce us to the character of Forrest Gump and to give us a look into what the movie is going to be about.

In my opinion, Jenny’s departure from Forrest’s house, AND her No answer to his proposal for marriage are inextricably linked. It’s obvious that Jenny and Forrest loved each other as best friends from the time they first met. There was absolutely nothing that one of them could do that would break that bond with the other. But did Jenny love Forrest like a woman would love a husband? Yes is my vote, and here is why. From Day 1, Jenny saw into Forrest’s heart and soul beyond leg braces and beyond low IQ and saw a good, good man. So why say No to his proposal? It’s because she did not see herself as worthy of being Forrest’s wife. She is the only one in the world who knows just how much her life’s conduct has driven her away (and below) from being a worthy wife. Please look at the dialog between them at his proposal, or view this YouTube clip. Aside from Forrest’s understandable surprise, these are exactly the actions that a husband and wife would do. Jenny knows all too well how to practice birth control. And she knows all too well that she is not doing so. She owned up to the only part of being a wife that she would allow herself to attain.

So why did she leave? As loving friends, she probably would have stayed quite a while. As a prospective wife, she could not bear to be in his presence. She did not see herself as being in his league. In her mind, she had to leave. That was her loving gesture to him so that he could find someone who was worthy of him. She knew he would not understand, so she left in a manner that would cause the least pain to him. Unfortunately, it’s only until she is dying that she realizes that Forrest sees her heart and soul as much as she sees his. It’s only after he offers to take care of her that she realizes that that’s all he sees: a great person that has always been worthy to be his wife. And that is why she proposes to him. Of course, he accepts.

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