|“||Run, Forrest! Run!"||”|
Birth and Education
Jenny Gump (née Curran), was born on July 16th, 1945 (the day the first atomic weapon in history was detonated in Alamogordo, NM) in Taylor, Arkansas. Her mother died when she was 5 years old. She was raised by her father, a farmer, who physically and sexually abused Jenny and her sisters. Forrest, being simple minded, believed that he was simply a loving father as he was always kissing and touching Jenny and her sisters.
Jenny and Forrest first meet on the bus to school when she invites him to sit with her, which Forrest gratefully accepts (as none of the other students would let him sit with them).
During their early years, Jenny acts as Forrest’s only friend and ally. The two often sit in a large oak tree after school. Jenny teaches Forrest to read, while he teaches her how to swing in the branches. When local bullies show up on bikes to tease and throw rocks at Forrest, Jenny urges him to run, screaming "Run, Forrest, run!" Her advice leads to Forrest’s leg braces breaking off and him running across town, literally kicking up dust as he passes.
One day when Jenny isn't at school, Forrest goes to her farm house. Jenny's drunken father pursues Jenny and Forrest, but they hide in a cornfield, and he doesn't find them, presumably because he's too drunk to do so. A frightened Jenny instructs Forrest to kneel down and help her pray to God. She repeats, "Dear God, make me a bird, so that I can fly far, far, far away from here.”
Soon after, Jenny's father is arrested, and she is sent to live with her grandmother in a trailer nearby Forrest’s Home. Occasionally she would sneak out in the middle of the night and stay with Forrest, hopping into bed with him, claiming she was scared but never revealed to Forrest what she was scared of. Forrest believed this was because of her grandma's mean dog, but the film implies that it was likely she was scared her father was either going to break out of jail or get released from jail and try to find her and abuse her some more.
Forrest and Jenny would remain close through their high school years, with Jenny continuing to urge Forrest to run, screaming "Run Forrest, run!" when bullies pursued him — this time in a truck.
Following high school, the two attend separate colleges - Jenny, an all girls college that Forrest often visits. One such visit results in him beating up her boyfriend, Billy, when Forrest misinterprets a playful make out session for Billy hurting Jenny. Billy leaves, upset, prompting the two to split. Jenny (though angry) forgives Forrest and invites him into her dorm room. Jenny brings Forrest to his first orgasm by showing him her bare breast. The two share a laugh and Jenny’s roommate listens. The two are once again separated as Forrest enters boot camp.
Forrest discovers while in boot camp that Jenny has posed for Playboy while wearing her college sweater, which leads to her being expelled. As a result of her photos however, she is hired to perform and sing in a strip club under the name Bobbie Dylan. While on leave, Forest comes to watch her sing and again saves Jenny — this time from men grabbing at Jenny's legs during her performance. Forrest beats up the men and tries to carry Jenny out the door to which she angrily breaks free and shoves her guitar at him — walking off stage nude and causing laughter in the crowd and Jenny gets fired.
Outside of the club, Jenny scolds Forrest for trying to protect her. Forrest admits (for the first time) that he loves her, but Jenny rebukes his claim, as she doesn't believe Forrest is capable of knowing what love is. She reflects on the day she and he prayed for God to turn her into a bird when they were kids, and has a momentary thought of committing suicide by jumping off the bridge, but quickly changes her mind and hitches a ride from a stranger in a pickup truck.
Before leaving, Forrest tells Jenny he's going to Vietnam; Jenny, now worried, advises Forrest that if he's ever scared in Vietnam to just run away. Forrest promises and Jenny leaves in the truck.
Hippie and Disco Jenny
While Forrest is in Vietnam, he writes letters to Jenny daily - none of which ever reach her. Jenny, presumably homeless, is singing on the street corner for spare change when invited by a stranger to go to San Francisco. She delves into the hippie lifestyle, participating in the anti-Vietnam war protests, and experimenting with hallucinogenic drugs.
She and Forrest are reunited after many years in Washington DC during an anti-Vietnam protest. Following a mostly muted speech, the two run to each other through the water of the National monument resulting in applause from the crowd. The two spend the day together and converge at a Black Panther safe house. While the Black Panthers are not happy with Forrest's presence, they all leave him alone, paying more attention to one of their members making a tirade. The one who has a serious problem with Forrest is Wesley, the president of the SDS at Berkeley. Forrest witnesses an argument between Wesley and Jenny in which Wesley slaps her, causing Forrest to retaliate and attack him. Forrest then gets up and makes a naive, humorous remark "Sorry to interrupt your Black Panther Party" to the Black Panthers, whose tirade was interrupted by the fight. Forrest and Jenny are forced to leave, and they spend the rest of the night together walking around Washington DC and reflecting on their individual journeys. The next morning, Jenny leaves for Berkeley with Wesley, much to Forrest's dismay. Before Jenny leaves, Forrest gives her his Congressional Medal of Honor, crediting her for his earning it and calling her his girl. She remarks, “I’ll always be your girl” before getting on the bus. As the bus pulls away, Jenny flashes Forrest a peace sign from the back window. Forrest and Jenny do not see each other for many years following the encounter in Washington D.C. Once returning to Berkeley Jenny broke up with Wesley and got another boyfriend who was a musician. She later reveals that this boyfriend slapped her at a New Years' Eve party in 1972. Unlike Wesley, she did not give this man another chance, instead leaving him right then and there.
A disco era Jenny in the late 70’s has succumbed further into a life of drugs and instability. Battered and high she hits an all time low in Hollywood, coming closest to suicide by nearly leaping off the top floor of a hotel. After a slip, she decides differently and steps down from the ledge, tearfully contemplating her life decisions.
One day, partly in an attempt to rebuild her life, Jenny arrives at Forrest's home unannounced and stays with him for a while. She sleeps excessively prompting Forrest to remark that it is as if she hasn’t slept in years. Forrest explains that every morning, they'd walk often and while he did all the talking (sharing war, ping pong, shrimping tales, and his own mom going to heaven where her mother was), Jenny would listen.
One day, while on a walk, the pair happen to stumble upon Jenny’s abandoned childhood home. After walking up to the house, Jenny stops and thinks for a bit, reflecting on what had happened to her as a child. Finally, she sees an opportunity to let her anger out and goes for it, feverishly throwing her shoes and rocks at the house — hitting boards and breaking windows. While throwing objects, she says things like, “How could you” and “How dare you” in the process.
It’s suggested that in that moment, Forrest realizes the truth about what Jenny’s father did to her, and that Jenny understands that her upbringing was the catalyst for her painful and rocky years. In her fit, she falls to the ground, sobbing. Forrest quietly walks over and sits nearby, and (in his narration) says, “Sometimes I guess there just aren’t enough rocks.”
The two enjoy each other’s company for a few more weeks. Forrest picks flowers for Jenny daily, and the two bond over dancing and gifts.
One evening, Forrest proposes to Jenny. She declines saying, “You don’t want to marry me.” Her hesitation prompts Forrest to exclaim, “I’m not a smart man, but I know what love is” before stepping outside. That night, Jenny climbs into bed with Forrest. She tells him that she does indeed love him (her first time admitting it aloud) and makes love to Forrest for the first time. The following morning, she leaves in a taxi, leaving behind Forrest’s Congressional Medal of Honor and prompting his 3-year run.
Marriage and Death
Working as a waitress, Jenny follows Forrest’s run and sends a letter prompting him to meet her in Georgia when he finishes. We learn that’s the reason for his reflection at the bus stop, bringing the story into the present day. After learning that she is only a few blocks away, Forrest runs directly to her apartment, surprising a matured Jenny.
As they talk, Jenny begins to apologize for all the times in the past that she acted badly towards him, as a result of her personal problems. She is interrupted by a knock at the door, followed by a woman dropping off a little boy. Jenny introduces the little boy to Forrest, calling Forrest a very good friend from her childhood. He runs along to watch TV and Forrest remarks gladly that Jenny has become a Mama.
Jenny tells Forrest that her son is named Forrest Jr. after his daddy. Forrest asks her if she knows another man named Forrest. Jenny replies, "You're his daddy, Forrest." This sends Forrest into a shock. But Jenny tells him he didn't do anything wrong. Forrest asks if his son is smart or if he is simple like he is. She remarks that Forrest Jr. is one of the smartest children in his class. She encourages him to spend time with his son and the two watch Sesame Street together as Jenny watches relieved and proud.
Jenny later reveals that she is ill and is suffering from an unknown virus with no cure (HIV or Hepatitis C) Forrest asks Jenny and little Forrest to come and live with him, where he promises to take care of both of them. Jenny asks Forrest if he will marry her and he gladly agrees. The two marry soon after, in a ceremony at the house once owned by Forrest's mother. One of the guests is Lieutenant Dan, who has shorn off his long hair and beard, and Forrest is glad to see walking again with the aid of a cane and his "magic legs". Dan introduces himself to Jenny, along with his own fiancee, an Asian woman named Susan.
One day, some time later, an ailing Jenny asks Forrest if he was scared in Vietnam, with Forrest replying that sometimes he was. Then, he goes on to recall how in Vietnam, the rain let up at night and the stars came out, comparing the starry sky to the beauty of the sunsets on the Bayou, the reflection of the mountain on the clear lake during his run, and finally, the sky during sunrises in the desert. Jenny wishes she had been with Forrest through it all, and Forrest assures her that she was.
Jenny dies on March 22nd,1982 (a Monday, but Forest mistakenly remembers it as a Saturday Morning), the day that the space shuttle "Columbia" was launched.
Following her death, we see Forrest standing beside Jenny's grave, which he had placed under the oak tree from their childhood. Talking to her posthumously, he mentions that he bought the land that had belonged to Jenny’s father and had the house demolished out of respect for her memory. He shares that he is taking care of little Forrest (as the two read books, play ping pong and go fishing).
Finally, Forrest ponders on whether Lt. Dan’s life philosophy about having a destiny, or his mother’s life philosophy about floating around accidentally on a breeze is accurate — eventually deciding that both of them are right. Forrest then tearfully tells Jenny that he misses her and promises to be near if she needs anything. He leaves a letter from little Forrest, who is mentioned to not have wanted his father to open it, and tearfully walks away.
As Forrest leaves the grave, a flock of birds fly off. It is implied that at this moment, Forrest understands God has finally answered Jenny’s childhood prayer to be made a bird and fly away.