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]


Forrest Gump, named after General 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 figured out that he could breed shrimp in a simple pond or lagoon. All he needs to do is gather shrimp and put in a mass of water, throw feed into a pond and let nature go its course. He eventually ends up with a shrimp business that eventually ends up 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.

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.[3]

The movie does not mention Forrest's being an idiot savant, 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.[3]

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, as well as his time with the cannibals and the ape named Sue.[2]

See also[edit]


  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. ^ a b Grimes, William (September 1, 1994). "Following the Star Of a Winsome Idiot - New York Times". Retrieved June 28, 2012.

External links[edit]