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Headscratchers: Forrest Gump

  • Life is not like a box of chocolates. You always know what is inside a box of chocolates: Chocolates. So where does the analogy come from?
    • Broadly, yes, it's chocolates. But the point is you don't know what kind of chocolates when you pick one up. Is it filled with cream? Coconut? Toffee? Caramel? That's where the analogy comes from.
    • ...seriously?
      • Yes? If you want to pick it apart, if you're alive, you know life is ahead of you. Got a box of chocolates and you know that chocolate is in there. Most boxes come with all sorts of kinds—while they usually have a map to tell you what kind is where, that's not the point (also, they might not have when Mrs. Gump uttered that phrase). You can pick out your chocolate, know it's chocolate, but you don't know exactly what it is yet, or if you'll like it. Hell, maybe you're deathly allergic.
      • Two more possibilities, not necessarily mutually exclusive: (1) Forrest doesn't seem the type to give folksy sayings like that a lot of thought, especially if they come from his mother. Remember that, as far as he's concerned, Momma's a font of wisdom. (2) Even if you know what's in the box after you open it, what about before? Sure, you can argue that all Whitman's Samplers are the same; but imagine if you only got one of them to last you the rest of your life. Would you know what was in it before you opened it? It's sort of the same idea. It doesn't hold up under close scrutiny, but again, Forrest doesn't seem the type to worry about it too much.
      • Duh, you can find out by looking at the box, it has a picture of all the chocolates so you can tell what chocolate you're getting is. And that is why life is not chocolates, also if life is like a box of chocolates, surely all diabetics would be dead. Because diabetics can't have chocolate, so chocolate is life, so diabetics can't have life.
      • "It doesn't hold up under close scrutiny, but again, Forrest doesn't seem the type to worry about it too much."
      • The picture inside the box cover is a fairly recent addition to a typical box of chocolate. For decades, including the time period of the movie, most boxes had no such guide. Anyone old enough knows the feeling of hoping for caramel and getting coconut.
  • If Jenny indeed has AIDS, as the movie seems to be strongly implying, what does that mean for Forrest, or for Forrest Jr. for that matter? Yikes...
    • It doesn't necessarily mean anything. If Jenny has AIDS we don't know for sure when she contracted it. It's unlikely she had it when she and Forrest had sex (and they only had sex the one time IIRC) so Forrest is probably okay. And it's unlikely her son has it because she probably caught it during her days of wild sex and drug parties, which came after her son would have been born.
      • Um, no. Her wild days were when she was still in college, way before she and Forrest had sex. Also, you mean they never had sex again, even after they were married?
      • I wouldn't be surprised if she spent some time as a prostitute to support herself later in life and caught it then. As for sex with Forrest, there is this wonderful little thing called a condom that is supposed to help with such matters.
      • Urm, that one time they had sex, a condom was not likely to have been involved, seeing as Jenny got pregnant. (And if one was involved it obviously didn't work!)
      • I obviously meant after they were married.
      • True enough, although even advocates will tell you that condoms aren't 100 percent effective. My interpretation, though, was that since we see Jenny working at a diner to support Forrest Jr., we're supposed to assume she's making her money by legitimate means, and that she did indeed contract HIV during her partying days.
      • Did you even watch the movie? Jenny's wild days were not while she was in college. She was kicked out of college for appearing in a porno magazine, and then later in the movie she was involved with people who practiced casual sex and drug use. As for whether she had sex with Forrest after marrying him, setting aside the above speculation about condom use, yes, I am saying Forrest and Jenny may have chosen not to have sex again. Many STD sufferers voluntarily choose not to have sex again to avoid any possibility of transmitting their illness to others, and instead find other ways to have intimate relations.
    • There's no sure thing with STDs. Even having unprotected sex with someone who has AIDS will not guarentee that you get it.
      • The risk for an uninfected man contracting HIV from an infected woman in a single sexual encounter is actually less than one percent. (And in fact probably much less than that). Though it is of course still possible to get infected from a single exposure, most of the time people get infected as a result of multiple exposures from a continuing pattern of high risk behavior.
    • Timeframe. AIDS barely had a foothold in the US (and only then in the homosexual community) until 1981. And this Headscratchers: Jenny dies in 1982. AIDS wasn't recognized as being caused by a virus until a year later.
      • Not officially, but by the end of 1981, some people were beginning to realize that it was communicable, and therefore possibly a virus; Jenny could have used "virus" as a catch-all term. Also, HIV was not just present in the homosexual community. By the end of 1981, symptoms were being reported in IV drug users.
    • In addition to the above comment's entirely correct information about female-to-male transmission rates, Forrest Jr.'s chances for contraction, while much higher, do not guarantee that he has the virus. According to the CDC, his chances of contraction are one in four.
    • There's always the chance that she caught it while working for the diner. Little known fact at the time, well known fact today, HIV is a BLOOD BORNE pathogen. She could have had an open sore on her hand, and tried to help someone with a cut, that was infected, or tried to clean up the mess.
    • There's also the possibility that she relapsed and started using drugs again after Forrest Jr. was born. It's not difficult to imagine that a single mother, trying to eke out a living as a waitress during an economic recession, would occasionally turn to drugs to help her cope. (Especially given that, as far as we know, Jenny never went through proper rehab after her "wild" days; old habits die hard.)
    • Word of God from the author states that Jenny actually had Hepatitis C.
  • Why does Forrest cry for Jenny, but not his mother? It seems sort of unfair that he mourns more for the woman who spent most of her life walking all over him than for the woman who sacrificed everything for him. Hell, he cries more for fucking Bubba than he does for his own mother. Seriously?
    • Well she was quite old when she died. Generally speaking, it's a lot easier to get over the loss of a friend or a loved one if they lived a full life before dying.
      • Besides, he may have cried offscreen.
      • Many people generally find it easier to cope with the loss of somebody when you've known they're going to die for a long period of time. Even though Mrs Gump was obviously in the final stages of cancer, Forrest would at least have had some time to prepare for the death of his mother. Most people find it a relief when their loved ones pass away after a long illness, since the pain ends for both parties and they can start to move on. Of course Forrest would have still been torn apart when she finally died, but maybe less extremely so if she'd died suddenly. Besides, you don't see him cry when Jenny dies, either, so why don't we all just assume the poor guy's heart broke each time someone died and they just didn't film it?
    • Forrest isn't shown crying for his mother, but even many years later he's still shown to be deeply hurt by her death. Pay attention to how his voice shakes when he says "And that's all I have to say about that." when he finishes talking about when she died, and keep in mind that it's probably a decade later. He was probably absolutely inconsolable for some time after her death, which would help explain why he never goes back to shrimping and just stays home... he can't really bear to be away from where she lived and died.
  • Why was Forrest not all that famous? He was awarded the Medal of Honor, spoke in a rally, ping pong made him a "national celebrity", and he was a tycoon who established hospitals, churches, and so forth; why were the news programs reporting his Heroic BSOD run merely referring to him as 'a gardener from Greenbow, Alabama'? Why not 'former tycoon', ''70s ping pong sensation', or, heck, 'Vietnam war veteran', which would surely make his running act more dramatic and politicized?
    • That's a good point. By some point in the film, the news media should have caught on, considering he was also a star football player and also met several presidents.
    • Forrest Gump is pretty much a private guy, he's not active celebrity like Charlie Sheen you know. Still a wiki search in that universe could give out an impressive results.
    • Noel Murray offers a good explanation in the AV Club review: "Zemeckis also slyly introduces a recurring motif of people and objects getting hit at the end of shots, illustrating the idea of a generation getting pummeled by one life-changing event after another. (The same idea is evoked by Rothís recurring motif of having nobody remember Forrest Gump, in spite of the many times heís been on TV over the years; some see that as a continuity flaw, but itís more reflective of the collective amnesia that seems to hit society in the wake of lurching change.) "
    • Perhaps they call him a gardener because that's what the told them. He does respond to the interviewers in that one scene- perhaps in his first interview they asked him who he was, etc., and when they asked him what his job was he said "I take care of the grass" or something.
    • You'd think someone would remember him, say "Hey, weren't you the guy who X?"
  • Why is Forest always labeled as "simple-minded"? I mean, yeah, I get it when he's called that in the film, it's the 70s and he comes from the Deep South. But every single synopsis or review or discussion of this film ends up just referring to Forest as stupid over and over. I mean, it's pretty goddam apparent to this troper that the character has a genuine mental disability- developmental, autism, whatever. Not to mention the fact that he had a physical one during his childhood as well (mental and physical disabilities don't always go hand in hand, but it's still not uncommon). Is anybody going to acknowledge this? An actual disability is very different from being a foolish person.
    • I think the "simple-minded" is referring to the disability. Because they're never clear on just what disability it might be, they borrow the same euphemism that was used at the time.
    • Well, as Terry Pratchett said about Constable Carrot, there's a difference between being simple and being stupid. Forrest isn't stupid; he's just simple. He also wouldn't qualify as disabled, since his low IQ doesn't substantially limit his ability to function in school, serve in the military, run a business, drive a boat or operate a lawn mower.
  • How is Dorothy Harris still driving the bus, unaged, over 40 years later?
    • She could be Dorothy Harris Jr, or otherwise Dorothy Harris's daughter.
      • This is most likely true, as notice that the Dorothy Harris that picks up Forrest Jr. actually looks younger than the original.
      • Robert Zemeckis really seems to like the Identical Grandson trope, as it's on display in the Back to the Future sequels and at various points in this film.
    • Considering the smile that she gives Forrest Jr. when he introduces himself, this probably is the case. The bigger headscratcher is in the Cosmic Coincidence that she has the same bus route as her mother.
  • Why is Lt. Dan shocked and confused that Forrest was awarded a Medal of Honor? As both Forrest's commanding officer and one of the people he pulled out of the jungle, Lt. Dan would certainly have been part of the process in determining if Forrest has earned the medal.
    • He's not shocked and confused, he's aggravated. Partly because he's pissed off at Forrest, partly because he's pissed off at everything. He probably was involved, in that they likely interviewed him about Forrest's actions and his character, and despite being pissed off Lt. Dan no doubt gave entirely truthful answers to every question. "Yes sir, he did follow every order I ever gave him to the letter, save my order not to go back for the others. Yes sir, he did seem to be of good moral character. Yes sir, he did carry me and the rest of his platoon out of jungle while under threat of being napalmed." He probably said it through gritted teeth, but he no doubt said it.
      • Consider Lt. Dan. He was Gump's commanding officer, lost both his legs, and was pretty much left a hopeless cripple who was only barely getting by on government welfare. Did he get a medal? No. They gave the medal to "an imbecile, a moron who goes on television and makes a fool of himself in front of the whole damn country." Yes, this was mostly just him taking out his frustration of being denied an "honorable death in battle" on Forrest.
      • Even when he's drunk and schmoozing with prostitutes, Dan still defends Forrest and tells the prostitutes that Forrest isn't stupid.
  • How did Bubba Gump Shrimp Company wind up failing per Gump and Co.?
    • It didn't. One of the people talking to Gump expresses surprise that he's talking to the owner of the Bubba-Gump Shrimp Corporation, and Gump says "We got more money than Davey Crockett."
      • In the movie continuity that is. I was referring to the sequel to the original novel.
      • The company didnt fail by the time of the second book, L.t Dan sold his share, and Forrest couldnt fill the increasing demands for shrimp and deal with various labour disputes, so the company ended up closing shop.
  • Why did the cop bust the mike when Forrest started speaking, as opposed to Abbie Hoffmann or just at the beginning of the rally?
    • Most likely he simply wasn't in a position to start yanking out the wires until Forrest took the stage. Probably wanted to be inconspicuous in making his way over.