Forrest Gump By Winston Groom: Analysis Essay, Research Paper
1. Forrest Gump is a novel about a mentally challenged man who overcomes his handicap and explores the world in an adventurous way. Gump has no direction in life; he just spends each day discovering more and more about the world, without any plan or schedule to guide him.
“…I am tole they is lettin me out of the Army early. It don’t take but a day or so, and then I am gone…Now I got to decide what to do.” This proves how Gump goes from one adventure to the next, without knowing what to do or where to go next.
“…We got in the little rowboat an paddled up to Bayou La Batre an caught the bus to Mobile. The lady in the ticket office there say, “Where do you want to go?” an I shrugged my shoulders, so she say, “Why don’t you go to Savannah? I been there once and it is a real nice town.” So that’s what we did.” This also proves how Gump has no direction in life, he just goes to different places for the sake of exploring them. He is very spontaneous.
2. One particular setting in this novel is when Gump sets up his own shrimping business, in the riverbanks of the Mississippi. The reasons why this is such a special setting is because:
a) the atmosphere during this time and place is very calm and relaxed. The reason for this mood is because Gump’s dream of being a boat captain has been fulfilled, and he has found some peace and quiet; he no longer wanders around aimlessly.
b) Gump finally has a purpose in life. He is finally laboring and earning money the hard and honest way. He is at peace with himself. The reward for working hard, and the result of working in a pleasant, simple environment is that he becomes extremely prosperous and wealthy.
3. The point of view in this novel is first-person. The reason why the author chose to write the book through Gump’s eyes is because he wanted to convey Gump’s deepest feelings, as well as to show the reader to what extent Gump’s mental challenge affects the way he interacts with society.
“… Now I’m slow-I’ll grant you that, but I’m probly a lot brighter than folks think, cause what goes on in my mind is a sight different than what folks see.” This clearly show how the author chose to write the novel through Gump’s eyes and have him describe himself. It give the reader a clearer sense of Gump’s view on things and his perception of his own mental capacity.
“Well, so what? I may be a idiot, but most of the time, anyway, I tried to do the right thing-an dreams is jus dreams, ain’t they? So whatever else happened, I am figgerin this: I can always look back an say, at least I ain’t led no hum-drum life.” Again, this proves how Gump is more than just a character in a book, he is aware of his existence and of his own capacities and limitations. I believe it was the best possible style to write this book.
4. The end of the book, in my opinion, is a little rushed. I believe this is due to the fact that the author changed his style of writing somewhere in the middle of the book, where there is a considerable amount of profanity and zaniness, more than before. After this noticeable change, Gump goes through a number of random events. These random events hint that the author ceased following a plan for writing this book, and therefore the ending was just a quick conclusion to a number of random events. I also believe that because the author changed his writing scheme in the middle of the book, there were no events leading up to a final climax and a grand finale or a conclusion; the ending could have been just another random event, it had no sign that it was the final scene. A good ending would have left me craving more or wanting to find out what will happen to the characters. With this ending, I felt little regard for them.
5. Irony: 1. An expression or utterance marked by a deliberate contrast between apparent and intended meaning. 2. A literary style employing such contrasts for humorous or rhetorical effect.
First and foremost, the most ironic situation in this novel is when Gump, who is mentally challenged, takes a advanced physics course in college, and he actually understands the material. Later on he is recruited by NASA and is sent up in space! NASA uses him as a back-up computer, and no one seems to notice the fact that he has a limited mental capacity. The irony here is that he is a feebleminded man, in charge of a very complicated piece of machinery.
The second ironic situation is when Gump is sent to China to compete in a ping-pong championship, when, while visiting the country, the leader of the Chinese Republic falls into a river and drowns. Gump then jumps in and saves him, without any idea that the best thing for the U.S. would have been to let that man drown. Because of Gump’s heroism, or rather, stupidity, the Chinese decide to open negotiations with the U.S. This was so ironic because it was unexpected that Gump would befoul the U.S. yet help them at the same time.
6. There are several symbols in this novel. The first one is Gump’s shrimping boat. It stands for his dreams and goals which have been accomplished. It also stands for his acquired peace and serenity ever since starting the business.
The second symbol is Gump’s child which he conceived with his long-time love, Jenny Curran. Although not married to Jenny, Gump meets his son for the first time while bumping into Jenny in the streets of Savannah. This child, Forrest Jr., stands for what Gump lost in life (Jenny), what he gained from his experiences, and what he can pass down from all his experiences so that his legend will remain alive.
7. Satire: Irony, sarcasm, or caustic wit used to attack or expose folly, vice, or stupidity.
One of the most satiric situation is when Gump goes to the White House to meet with President Nixon. Nixon is extremely paranoid because of the Watergate ordeal, and Gump mentions the word “take,” in which case Nixon loses control, thinking Gump had said tape, as in the tapes from Watergate. After Nixon and Gump are alone, Nixon pulls up his sleeve and tries to sell him some watches. This is so satiric because it depicts Nixon as this paranoid, desperate man.
The second most satiric situation is when Gump runs for state senator. He tries to explain that he is an idiot and he cannot possibly be senator, but the “brains” behind this operation tell him that that is of no importance. While on tour, Gump coins the phrase “I got to pee” as his campaign slogan. He becomes popular until his dirty past is brought to light. This is so satiric because it shows how it takes no skill to become senator, and how foolish it is when the crowd follows a candidate with a stupid slogan as “I got to pee.”
8. One major conflict is that Forrest has to overcome his disability and learn to become an active member of society. Time and again he finds himself lost, confused, and alone, not knowing how to deal with the dynamic world he lives in.
The second conflict is that every time he manages to find his good friend Jenny Curran, he does something to scare her away. He never manages to have her remain with him, even though she’s the only woman he ever wanted. They are together for a little while, but then he manages to ruin that relationship. They conceive a child together, but she is married to someone else.