Forrest Gump (novel)

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Forrest Gump
Forrest Gump Cover.jpg
First edition
AuthorWinston Groom
Cover artistBill Creevy[1]
CountryUnited States
Publication date
Media typePrint
Followed byGump and Co. 

Forrest Gump is a 1986 novel by Winston Groom. The title character retells adventures ranging from shrimp boating and ping pong championships, to thinking about his childhood love, as he bumbles his way through American history, with everything from the Vietnam War to college football becoming part of the story.

Gump is portrayed as viewing the world simply and truthfully. He does not know what he wants to do in life, but despite his low IQ, he is made out to be full of wisdom. He says that he "can think things pretty good", but when he tries "sayin or writin them, it kinda come out like Jello". His mathematical abilities as an idiot savant and feats of strength lead him into all kinds of adventures.[2]

In 1994, the story was adapted to movie-form and a film of the same name was released by Paramount Pictures. Forrest was played by Tom Hanks and the movie went on to win six Academy Awards.


Forrest Gump, named after Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard Nathan Bedford Forrest, narrates the story of his life. The author uses misspellings and grammatical errors to indicate his Southern accent, education, and cognitive disabilities. While living in Mobile, Alabama, Forrest meets Jenny Curran in first grade and walks her home. They then became the best of friends.

By the time Forrest is sixteen years old, he is 6' 6" (1.98 m), 242 pounds (110 kg), and plays high school football. Miss Henderson, with whom Forrest is infatuated, gives him reading lessons. He reads Mark Twain's The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and two other books that he does not remember. While he enjoys the books, he does not do well on tests.

He gains popularity as a football player, making the All State team. When Forrest is called to the principal's office, he meets Bear Bryant, who asks if he'd considered playing college football. After high school, Forrest takes a test at a local army recruitment center, and is told he is "Temporarily Deferred."

Forrest and Jenny meet again in college. They go to see Bonnie and Clyde, and play together in a folk music band at the Student Union, covering songs by Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, and Peter, Paul and Mary.

Forrest flunks out of the University of Alabama after one semester. He and his friend Bubba join the Army, but Bubba dies in the Vietnam War. He meets Lieutenant Dan, who has lost his legs, in the infirmary.

He also plays in a ping-pong championship in China. He then works for NASA as an astronaut with a major and an orangutan, after he gets in trouble for participating in an anti-war protest in Washington. Forrest also has brief careers as a chess champion, a stunt man with a naked Raquel Welch in Hollywood, and as a professional wrestler called "The Dunce".

There comes a point where Forrest finds a Vietnamese man during his time in Vietnam and figures out that he can breed shrimp in a simple pond or lagoon. All he needs to do is gather shrimp and put them in a mass of water, throw feed into a pond and let nature take its course. He eventually ends up with a shrimp business with a name honoring Bubba. He gives away the company to Bubba's family and workers and decides to go his own way, frustrated with the complications it added to his once simple life.

At the end of the book, Forrest ends up with Dan and a male orangutan named "Sue" living life by being a one-man band, begging for change, while sleeping on a green bench.

Critical reception[edit]

The novel initially sold about 10,000 copies before fading. It sold over a million copies after the film adaptation.[3]

In a 1986 book review by Kirkus Reviews the anonymous reviewer called the book a "stumbling, droopy-drawered attempt at a picaresque novel" and summarized; "A heavy-handed, one-joke sort of novel which is, finally, a cheat".[4] A contemporary review for Publishers Weekly recognized the "on-target humor here", but summarized the author "has written better books than this".[5]

Film adaptation[edit]

The novel was adapted into a feature-length film by Paramount Pictures in 1994.

Before being made into an Academy Award winning movie, the novel sold an estimated 30,000 copies.[6]

The movie does not mention Forrest's being someone with savant syndrome, and sanitizes his sex life and the character's profanity. According to the author, the movie "took some of the rough edges off" Forrest, whom he envisioned being played by John Goodman.[6]

The movie takes great advantage of special effects to have the characters interact with real people from history. It omits his time with NASA and some of his other careers such as boxing, as well as his time with the cannibals and the ape named Sue.[2]

The upcoming Indian film, Laal Singh Chaddha, is an adaptation of Forrest Gump.[7]


  1. ^ "Book Details".
  2. ^ a b The Write Stuff, edited by Giles Hugo and Anne Kellas (2003-01-09). "Forrest Gump". Retrieved 2012-06-18.
  3. ^ Hiaasen, Rob (March 27, 1995). "the book, 'Forrest Gump' opens a whole different box of chocolates". Baltimore Sun.
  4. ^ "Forrest Gump". Kirkus Reviews. March 7, 1986.
  5. ^ "Forrest Gump". Publishers Weekly. March 7, 1986.
  6. ^ a b Grimes, William (September 1, 1994). "Following the Star Of a Winsome Idiot". The New York Times. Retrieved June 28, 2012.
  7. ^ "Aamir Khan's Laal Singh Chaddha delayed by an entire year, will now release on Christmas 2021". Hindustan Times. 2020-08-10. Retrieved 2021-08-31.

External links[edit]