Character Adaptation

Forrest Gump

Novel:

  • Forrest is not portrayed as innocently within the book as the movie
  • He continuously uses profanity, is mildly racist, and loses his virginity to a boarder at the Gump house, not Jenny which was in the movie.
  • He does not complete college within the movie
  • There is also a lack of closure for Forrest in the end, when he finds out about his son with Jenny he does not make an effort to be apart of his life
  • He has a lack of confidence within himself
  • He is more self-centered within the book and when Jenny wishes that Forrest stops wrestling he doesn’t because he wants to make more money
  • He also becomes a pot head at one point

Movie:

  • Forrest is portrayed as more morally conscious and caring
  • First sexual experience is with Jenny
  • He hardly does anything seriously wrong within the movie, portrayed as more of a hero
  • He shows more compassion towards others especially his mother
  • He experiences a “love story” with Jenny in the movie and he experiences more of the stereotypical happy ending by getting to be with his son

Jenny Curran

Novel:

  • Jenny is not as present within the novel, as within the movie.
  • Took her relationship with Forrest as almost an after-thought to other things.
  • Jenny’s character was more of a mystery within the novel and she seemed more of a “free-spirit”

Movie:

  • We are given more of an insight into Jenny’s life such as her childhood when she is abused by her father
  • Forrest refers to his relationship with Jenny in the film as “Me and Jenny go together like peas and carrots.”
  • Jenny and Forrest’s relationship is a love story within the movie
  • Many of the problems that Jenny faces are results of her tough childhood with her father, such as the time in her life where she became a stripper
  • Jenny dies of AIDS at the end of the movie…this is in relation to the time period the movie was produced because AIDS was just becoming an issue within society

Film critic David Kehr describes the novel’s Jenny as “a busty cheerleader out of a softcore sex fantasy.”

People have believed that the film’s screenwriter Eric Roth, when developing the screenplay from the novel, had “…transferred all of Gump’s flaws and most of the excesses committed by Americans in the ’60s and ’70s to her [Curran].”

Ms. Gump

Novel:

  • Forrest ignores his mother for multiple years throughout the novel
  • When he was in Vietnam his mother’s house is burned to the ground and she ends up in a poorhouse, but it did not seem to bother him too much
  • Lack of a deeper relationship between Forrest and his mother, almost as though since he seems far less intelligent within the book that he forgets she exists at certain points.
  • She did not die within the novel

Movie:

  • Forrest is very faithful throughout the movie towards his mother
  • When he learns that she is ill he comes home instantly
  • She is also at her bedside as she dies and he is very upset over her death for a long period of time
  • Forrest bases his life upon two phrases that his mother would tell him growing up:

“Stupid is as stupid does.”

“Life is like a box of chocolates.”

Lieutenant Dan

Novel:

  • The first time he meets Dan is within the hospital
  • Dan is more of a role model for him within the novel, but a distant one
  • Able to come to terms with the fact that he does not have legs

Movie:

  • Dan is Forrest’s Lieutenant officer and he starts to despise Forrest for saving him during the war
  • Very bitter over the fact that he loses his legs
  • More of an aggressive character and does not possess the same genuine charm to him as the Dan that was portrayed in the book
  • He becomes an alcoholic
  • Later when he turns his life around he works on Forrest’s shrimp boats alongside him and acquires new legs at the end of the movie


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