The Struggle: Forrest Gump in Vietnam War

Forrest, Forrest Gump is just a common simple man with a very low IQ but has very outstanding intentions. Forrest is practically running all too fast through his childhood with his only and best friend Jenny. His mother taught him the way of life and leaves Forrest with the decision to choose his own destiny. Gump joins the army to fight in the service of the Vietnam battle. While enlisted he find new friends called Dan and Bubba, he wins lots of medals, helps create the smiley face, conducts a famous shrimp boat business, helps inspire several people to jog around the world, starts a pong-pong craze, donates to people, and even meets the president several times.

However this is highly irrelevant to Gump who most of the time only thinks about his one and only childhood sweetheart Jenny. She has a major impact on Forrest and his train of thought tries to follow her but you never see him run after her all the times she leaves him alone.

He has captured lots of fame but his most one true love has continuously eluded him. This is a story of a man that just does what he wants to do because he knows it’s not a wrong choice to make. If someone needed something he would be the guy you could talk into doing something that they didn’t want to do. The problem with Forrest is that he is far too stupid to realize the significance of his actions.

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Gump becomes a representative of the baby boomer generation having walked through his life blindly. In this movie there are many social concepts that would better help the life of Forrest Gump and his differences from others Forrest was disadvantaged with a lower IQ, and a crippling spine condition which forced Forrest to have many struggles through his childhood in the small town of Greenbow, Alabama.

Since he had mental disabilities he was the victim of academic discrimination. His mother tried desperately to resolve Forrest from being singled out. In the film she states “he might be a bit on the slow side, but my boy Forrest is going to get the same opportunities as everyone else, He’s not going to some special school.” (Gump 1995) Gump’s mother was highly determined to so what she had to do to keep her son in school like everyone else. Forrest eventually finds himself to be tormented and even isolated by the neighborhood kids and the town’s peoples who all seemed incapable of treating Forrest with anything except for disdain and distain.(TCO 4 and 6)

Gump was even a very active part of important world events, including George Wallace protests about desegregation, the war of Vietnam, the diplomacy period of Ping Pong, Abbie Hoffman’s lead of activism, a meeting with the Black Panther Party, and also the Watergate scandal. It’s definitely a reasonable point to say that being part in such important events would make Forrest highly vulnerable to the social forces of those times, but with his lack of critical though because of his low intelligence level he seemed to do the exact opposite. Gump remained completely oblivious to all the different social forces and their significance. When George Wallace did his “Stand in the Schoolhouse Door” protest, Gump stood their oddly curious in the background, and was way more interested his surrounding and the people around him the to the actual protest completely bypassing his thoughts.

While in the Vietnam War, Gump never had any questions about the agenda and the mortality of the U.S government, and after the war, he acquires the Congressional Medal of Honor for his brave efforts and heroicness. Forrest’s whole experience while in the Vietnam War can basically be summarized down to a single conversation between the Drill Sargent and himself: “Gump! What’s your sole purpose in this Army?” “To do whatever you tell me, Drill Sargent!” (Gump 1995) Forrest will do anything anyone tells him to, due to his lack of common sense being a little unfair to him. If you give him a command he will succeed his goal without any questions.

Since Forrest had such a low IQ he couldn’t portray norms and values like we can. The way he thinks makes him more vulnerable to following the wrong path and can likely in a direction we as a society doesn’t think is acceptable. Even with that being said, the most dismaying section of impassive responses highlighted in the movie can be a contributing factor to Gump’s clueless and carless involvement in the rally lead by Abbie Hoffman on anti-Vietnam War. He’s not even quite sure how he viewed Hoffman. “There was this man giving a little talk, and every time he said the “F” word, for some reason, well, they’d cheer.” (Gump 1995) Even with him noticing that part of the event he still wasn’t quite sure what was happening and what was being protested. (TCO 4 and 6) (TCO 3 and 4)

Even though the main focus of the movie is directed in Forest Gump’s direction, there are other social forces that are very often implied and brought to life with Jenny Curran. Gump’s highly unaware and unobservant nature contrasts with Jenny’s independent and all alone character. If Jenny was not in the film, we would have an uncertain and unrealistic view of several occurrences that contribute the important structure of our society today. Being different from Forrest, Jenny was intentionally and knowingly involved and active in the counterculture movements in the sixty’s. We see her doing this when she is traveling countryside with other “hippies,” secretly making herself involved in the Black Panther Party meeting, and also participating and supporting the anti-war movements. Even before she sets off into what ends up being a downward twist to debasement, she spoke with Gump about her motives. “I want to reach people on a personal level.

I really want to be able to say thing, just one-to-one.” (Gump) In the end Jenny’s plans for a more improved society are brought to a staggering halt when she develops a very fatal disease due to the explicit drug use. At the end of the movie she actually ends up dying do to her harsh lifestyle with little to none morals. Forrest and jenny were two completely different characters and one was always doing what they thought was right and the other was just a common follower that couldn’t find her way onto the right path of a good social structure. “Stupid is as stupid does,” Is a much highlighted quote in this movie. The sociological perspective used to understand this quote could be the interactionist perspective because of the way stupid people interact with others, can show people that a stupid person is actually stupid. If you interact with someone who is truly stupid, you can see this in the person. If you try and observe someone who is stupid, you can also see it clearly in this person. However, interaction only truly proves who a person is. TCO 3and 5) (TCO 3 and 4)

Even though Tom Hanks (the Star in Forrest Gump) confirms that the movie was “non-political and non-judgmental,” the examples shown above implicate otherwise. Not to mention the movie does take a big part in standing against discrimination on people with disabilities by shedding some insight on the troubles that come with being handicap during such a callous time in history. The motives of the film were actually quite unclear and ambiguous with the two actors.

Based only on the unattractive outlook of counter-culturalism by the filmmakers, Forrest’s lack of discretion when dealing with issues like independence and desegregation, as well as Gump’s quick thinking approach to the many depths of activists, we bring ourselves to this conclusion: the very harrowing unbelievable experiences that were exposed in the movie can be easily discarded to the side as something warranted only by seriously devoted individual who try to foster humanity. Forrest show us that whatever life throws to you, you can rise above them and succeed. Gump had several challenges that would throw anyone off track, but yet he was still able to live a very successful and happy life.

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The Struggle: Forrest Gump in Vietnam War. (2017, Jan 25). Retrieved from

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