Winston Groom

Forrest Gump

  • 27-page comprehensive study guide
  • Features 26 chapter summaries and 5 sections of expert analysis
  • Written by a published author with a degree in English Literature
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Forrest Gump Summary and Study Guide

SuperSummary, a modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, offers high-quality study guides for challenging works of literature. This 27-page guide for “Forrest Gump” by Winston Groom includes detailed chapter summaries and analysis covering 26 chapters, as well as several more in-depth sections of expert-written literary analysis. Featured content includes commentary on major characters, 25 important quotes, essay topics, and key themes like Intelligence and Doing the Right Thing.

Plot Summary

Much of the discussion around Winston Groom’s highly acclaimed 1986 novel Forrest Gump concerns how different it is from the wildly popular movie it inspired. This does the novel a disservice, in that it deserves to be judged on its own merits rather than solely in comparison. That said, thematically, it is identical to the movie, and the characters are nearly all the same.

Forrest Gump is the first person narrator of the novel. He announces straightaway that he is an “idiot” with an IQ of 70. The book is written in an odd, colloquial style meant to mimic the phonetics of Forrest’s Southern accent and slow style of thinking. It is unclear exactly what his disability is, as his IQ—and his own constant insistence that he is an idiot—is the only metric by which intelligence is discussed.

Forrest’s limitations do not stop him from having a life so adventurous that is verges on cartoonishness. Once he leaves childhood behind, he is constantly finding himself in the right place at the right time. It is revealed that he is not only intelligent in some specialized ways, he is operating at the level of genius. As the novel progresses, Forrest attains prodigy status in advanced mathematics, ping pong, chess, music, wrestling, football, and even political acumen. He is the key to solving many problems previously thought unsolvable, a fact that takes him into outer space, lands him at the mercy of a cannibal tribe, meeting several Presidents, winning the National Medal of Honor in Vietnam, and even results in him nearly achieving the status of United States Senator.

The sequence of events and adventures is less important than his relationship with Jenny Curran, his love interest from elementary school onward. Jenny is always kind to him, but as she grows and sees what a kind, generous, and talented person Forrest is, she genuinely falls in love with him. Once he has her, Forrest experiences a shift of his own: he begins to take her for granted and eventually loses her when he will not abandon a career path (professional wrestling) she deems unworthy of him.

At the novel’s end, Forrest has attained earthly riches and a powerful reputation. And although he does not have Jenny as a partner, he learns that she bore him a son after leaving him, naming the baby Forrest. His son is a brilliant student and a kind child. Forrest is able to let Jenny go, knowing that his son will always be taken care of by loving parents, and that he can afford to pay for anything the child will need.

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Chapters 1-6