Forrest Gump’s character in the movie is quite interesting as well as complex providing a unique contrast to the typical behavioural characteristics of an individual in his early adulthood. The film shows how he develops and grows starting with his childhood to the time where he adopts his role as a father. His journey is quite an interesting one and different from most of us. By showing the contrast between typical life events of an individual and of those whose development is slower than normal, the film tells us how our expectations regarding cognitive capacities may not be that important as we tend to think. The film beautifully portrays how people who are seen or judged as “slow” by the society can very well lead a successful life.
In physical terms, Forrest is quite strong and healthy and athletically prodigious. In his childhood, he wore leg braces because of which he was bullied by his peers. And one day, when he was trying to flee away from his bullies, his braces broke apart and he learnt that he can run extremely fast. Despite his below average intelligence, he got scholarship in the University of Alabama because of his athletic prowess. So, his physical strength acted as a kind of buffer for him by helping him keep up with adversity of life (as physical strength is one of the supporting factors in aiding the achievement of development tasks). Thus, he was
able to attend school and college especially because of his mother who provided him with unconditional support throughout. She never made him feel that he is any different from others, always encouraged him and accepted him completely. For instance, she made sure that Forrest goes to the finest school and receives same education as other kids, This reflects the importance of nurture aspect in the development of one’s personality, thought and social behaviour. Although, biologically he had a low IQ, but he did really well in life probably because of strength and encouragement he got from his mother and very importantly the acceptance and support he go from his peer Jenny in his childhood. Whereas, Jenny on the other hand, didn’t receive such kind of positive environmental influence in her childhood. She was sexually abused as a child by her father and that had lasting effects on her personality and behaviour.
Forrest experienced emotions like falling in love (with Jenny), grief (when his mother died) like most people of his age would experience. However, some of his emotions were not as it would be normally expected from his peers like his tolerance towards insults. He didn’t seem to be bothered about people calling him with multiple names. Instead of getting offended by being frequently referred to as slow and stupid, he calmly responds with “Stupid is as stupid does”.
If we look at social sphere, Forrest actively participated in the football team in college (got named as All-American football player) and also in the United States Army. Also, he made friends like Jenny whom he met in his childhood), Lieutenant Dan and Bubba (whom he met in the army). However his concept of friendship was a little different as compared to people of his age. For instance, he kept it very simple i.e. people were either his friends or they were not; he didn’t engage in analysing what people mean actually and what in actual they think of him. He also showed extreme loyalty and trust in his friendships. For instance, he never questioned Jenny even though she deserted him a couple of times and he cared for her in the same way throughout, keeping her happiness above anything else. Secondly, when their platoon was ambushed in Vietnam he didn’t care about his life and was solely concerned with finding Bubba and saving him. Till he reached Bubba, he encountered four other army men on his way and he carried each of them to the safer place. This also reflects the stage 6 of Kohlberg’s morality development (Universal Ethical Principle) i.e. every human’ life is important and that he...
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