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Forrest Gump Development Analysis

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Forrest Gump is a complex and interesting lead character and provides a unique contrast to typical early adulthood behavior. In the film, from the time he attends college, towards the end of the film where he begins his role as a father, Forrest goes through normal events that occur in the lives of many young adults. His reaction and development is different from most however, and he goes through interesting events and experiences. This contrast between typical life events and a slower than normal development shows that some expectations about cognitive abilities may not be as important. Even those who are considered "slow" by the mainstream population can be successful and live a life full of typical life events that fall within a typical timeframe.

Through most of the film, which is the focus of this stage in life, Forrest goes from about 18 years old, to mid-thirties. This encompasses the general range known as early adulthood. Physically, Forrest is strong, athletic, and healthy. He does go through some health-related issues in childhood and suffers from such injuries as a bullet wound during the Vietnam War, but in general his health remains consistently good in comparison to the other characters who suffer from chronic and fatal diseases and one who suffers from a permanently disabling injury resulting in the amputation of his legs. His cognitive status is not as advanced as his physical abilities, however. Since very early childhood he has been classified as "slow" and this has not changed in adulthood. Despite this, he is able to attend college, and graduate, signifying that he does indeed have some cognitive abilities in the classroom. Emotionally, Forrest does experience emotions such as falling in love, grief, excitement, nervousness, and so on. These emotions come very naturally and are experienced as one might expect, for example, when Forrest's mother dies he is very sad and when other people in his life pass away he experiences the same grief that would be expected out of anyone his age. In some cases however, the emotions that he experiences is not the same as his peers. One example of this is his tolerance to insults. Throughout the film, people call him many names and he doesn't seemed bothered by it. He's repeatedly called stupid and slow, but he doesn't get offended, but rather responds with, "Stupid is, as stupid does." This is not typical of many other young adults who seek acceptance and approval from others.

Socially, Forrest participates in activities with his peers. In college he is active with his football team, and when he's in the Army he also is part a group. He is able to make friends, including Jenny, Bubba, and Lieutenant Dan, but probably not in the typical way that most people would make friends. His idea of friendship is very basic and either people are his friends or they're not. He doesn't complicate things and wonder what people really mean or what they really think of him. Trust and loyalty are important to him and he would do anything for the people close to him. He does not participate in some activities that are often seen in young adulthood such as drinking, partying, and drug use. This has an effect on him in many aspects including socially and physically. Socially he is left out because of many reasons, but one is because he isn't comfortable with situations that include sex and drinking. There are risks involved in drinking and unprotected sex, and since he does not participate, he's not at risk at the same levels as some of his peers, such as Jenny.

One major issue that is discussed in the book that is often presented to young adults is the transition to parenting. When Forrest discovers that he is a parent, he goes through many changes and is affected by this new development. Some common advantages to becoming a parent is getting more responsibility, becoming more accepted as an adult, a connection to another person and the comfort that comes with that. In this case, Forrest does undergo a stronger sense of responsibility now that he has a child to care for, especially since Jenny passed away. It is also a way to comfort the loss of Jenny, and even the loss of the other important people in his life, now that he has someone to share his life with and care for. He still has to deal with the fact that he's considered slow, but it's helpful that now he can prove in yet another way that he's capable. Common disadvantages of parenthood include financial and marital strain, too much responsibility and uncertainty about parental abilities. While Forrest doesn't experience all of these, he does wonder whether he will be able to care for his son properly and whether his son will be negatively affected by the fact that his father is slow. However, he overcomes this and is able to function as a parent and the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. His overall personality remains the same, but it does appear that he is somehow more mature and responsible now that he's a parent. Often times parents will refrain from as much irresponsible activities, like partying hard and staying out late. Since Forrest never really participated in these activities, no change is required.

Another major issue for young adults is that early adulthood is a time of decisions. During this time they must choose a career and possibly a college. They also must choose a mate and start to worry about their future. For many, they take this time to think about many possibilities and make the best possible decision after a lot of consideration. Forrest does not treat these decisions in this way and ends up doing things based on coincidences. For example, he goes to college because the coach recruits him. He enters the Army because the recruiter comes up to him after graduation. He becomes famous after running across the country just because he had a whim to start running. He even starts the shrimp boat because that was his plan during the Army when Bubba suggested it. The majority of adults take time and consideration in these decisions, but Forrest tends to fall into these things and then doesn't question them. He is very accepting of whatever comes his way and doesn't like to question his current situation or wonder about the future. When the Army recruiter comes up to Forrest and his mother after graduation he asks, "Have you given any thought to your future?," while handing him a brochure. As the man walks away Forrest responds, "Thought?" This shows his lack of consideration to future plans. During their time in college, Forrest goes to visit Jenny and when she tells him about her dream of becoming "somebody," he doesn't understand and can't grasp what she's talking about.

He lacks in this area and in many ways Forrest is behind as far as developmental



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