How do the Themes of Sex, Drugs and Rock n' Rock in Forrest Gump Shape the Movie?

Categories: Forrest Gump

The presence of sex, drugs and rock and roll is a huge theme throughout most novels with rebellious teenage characters. In one of the best classics of all time, Forrest Gump, by Winston Groom shows this theme perfectly. There are two very different characters in this book, Forrest and Jenney. Forrest and Jenney grew up together in a time where Forrest was physically disabled because of his birth defect. Jenney was the only person who was ever nice to him as a child and he grew to love her with everything he had.

As Jenney went on with his life, Forrest joined the military. During this time, Jenney started experimenting with drugs, having sex with men left and right and was a huge rock and roll fan; they typical teenage girl experience in this time period. Forrest did not know about any of this and was blown away when he learned about this time in Jenney’s life. This is a classic example in literature of how sex, drugs and rock and roll played a huge part in the story.

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In Christine, sex, drugs and rock and roll play a huge part in the novel. Without these influences, most of the events might not have made sense or fit the book.

Stephen King does something in this book that is unusual. From the very beginning of the book, King brings the theme of rock and roll into the book by having the start of each chapter begin with a popular rock and roll song from various artists.

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For example, in the beginning of chapter 47, King uses Bruce Springsteen. “There was blood and glass all over, and there was nobody there but me. As the rain…Mister, wont you help me, please?” (King, 435) This was a great quote that King used because it set the tone for the chapter, which was about betrayal and destroying Christine. He uses this technique at the beginning of each chapter to establish a theme for that specific chapter. It is a very effect technique and relates to the time period of the story because rock and roll was very big during that time period. The function of rock and roll goes further than just a popular kind of music from that time period; it establishes the theme for the upcoming chapter.

Drugs in Christine was a smaller part, but nonetheless important. Arnie bought Christine as an innocent boy who was always well behaved. “He was a loser, ya know…Everyone’s dumping ground.” (King, 1) Arnie was portrayed as a loser from the very beginning, someone who would never get into drugs. Once he got Christine, Arnie change for the worse. He started rebuilding her in Will Darnell’s garage, a man who was always suspected of smuggling drugs. At first, Arnie took no part in the smuggling operations. He just wanted to clean up Christine and that was all. But as time went by, and Christine started to affect Arnie’s personality, he started to become more and more of a bad boy. Eventually he started working for Will Darnell and his smuggling operations. King uses drugs in this book to symbolize corruption. He first describes Arnie as the good, nerdy boy who never got into trouble. As time went by, and Christine started to influence Arnie’s personality more and more, drugs came into play as a negative personality trait of Arnie. This was an effective way for king to portray the corruption Arnie. People who do drugs are always viewed as a rebellious and people who do not abide by society’s rules. King knew this and used drugs to show how evil and horrific Christine really was.

Sex is always on teenage boys minds. It is what they try to get everyday, and almost always fail. Arnie does not really crave sex as much as most teenage boys do, so sex to him in this novel is mostly companionship. Leigh was the companion that Arnie wanted the most and was actually able to get, despite everyone’s surprise. She was described everything that a sex-craved boy would want. The only problem with Arnie is that he had another female fighting for his love, Christine. Despite the fact that Arnie could never have sex with her, Christine was the one that Arnie chose out of the love triangle. “The lovers don’t always live happily ever after, even when they’ve done what seemed right as well as they could do it.” (King, 499) Despite the fact that Arnie rejected Leigh and everyone else in his life for Christine, he does not end up happy. He chose the female that he though he loved the most and wound up dead. His unnatural love and desire for Christine’s companionship is what got him killed.

Similar to Forrest Gump, Arnie loved a female blindly that was no good for him. Forrest loved Jenny despite all of her obvious flaws and is left to raise their kid alone. Arnie loved Christine too much and when she gets destroyed, he dies from Christine’s wrath. The sex, drugs and rock and roll ruined Jenney and ultimately led to her death. Forrest was left to grieve her death and raise their child because she was too consumed by all the bad influences in her youth. Christine ruined Arnie’s innocence by changing his personality to one that would take part in the drug smuggling operations and one that was obsessed with an evil spirit in Christine. The influence of sex, drugs and rock and roll ruined both of the male characters innocence and left them either dead or grieving.

King used the influences of sex, drugs and rock and roll for multiple reasons. He used it to establish the chapters themes, portray the image of corruption and show the unhealthy companionship that Arnie craved. This provided King with the perfect combination to show how evil Christine was and how she ruined a once innocent character. Sex, drugs and rock and roll is a combination that one should avoid if they wish to steer clear of an unfortunate ending.

Updated: Feb 15, 2024
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How do the Themes of Sex, Drugs and Rock n' Rock in Forrest Gump Shape the Movie?. (2024, Feb 15). Retrieved from

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