The Struggles of Jenny from “Forrest Gump” In the movie Forrest Gump, Jenny is such a misunderstood person and in no way the evil woman many make her out to be. She is just a lost soul trying to find a place in this world where she belongs and can be happy. She has a hard time thinking she deserves to be happy and loved. Although she mistreats Forrest time and time again, it is not her intention to hurt him the way she does.
The way she acts and the decisions she makes all stem from the abuse she went through as a child, then just continues to snowball from there.
From the time she was a little girl it all starts with her father, a man she should be able to trust, who is sexually abusive towards her. At a very young age she is primed to think that this is how it is. This is why she prays, “Dear God, make me a bird, so I can fly far, far far away from here”.
At this point, I believe that these birds flying away in the cornfield represent her will to be free. Even though she is able to escape her fathers abusive hand, she is not able to escape the memories of what he does to her. It’s these memories that drive her to do things that she shouldn’t.
Not knowing how to out run these thoughts in her head, she turns to drugs and promiscuity. We see her living her life as a poster child for flower power and the hippie movement in the choices she’s making, as well as the way she is dressed. Her always wearing white or having something white on her person is representative of her innocence stolen from her, plus the kindness and purity of her soul within. She has a good heart, and it shows when she offers Forrest a seat on the bus while everyone else is shunning him for being a little different.
As Forrest puts it, “Jenny and me was like peas and carrots”, and that’s how they remained for the duration of their childhood as well as through college. All the way to the point when she is singing naked in a night club and Forrest wants to save her. Her suicidal thoughts start at this moment on the bridge as she thinks of jumping and seeing if she can fly like a bird. She repeatedly goes for these men that are clearly not good to her, or for her. Wesley for example who hits her at the Black Panther party. All the while, Forrest is pinning over her and treats her like a precious stone, he wants to love her and be her boyfriend.
Yet she just keeps pushing him away as she is searching for the strength to love herself. We see Jenny on a ledge contemplating suicide, not knowing where to turn and what to do. Right before she is returning to Forrest, we again see the type of abuse she continues to have inflicted on her as she looks in the mirror and has a black eye. After all these years of wandering lost, doing drugs, and sleeping around, she returns to Forrest. She has nowhere to go and he is the only good thing she has in her life at this point.
The only thing stable and good she has ever known in her life. They are “like peas and carrots again”, as Forrest so eloquently puts it. Her good nature comes out again as she gives him a pair of running shoes when she doesn’t have two nickels to rub together. As they’re out walking one day, they come upon Jenny’s childhood home and she forced to face the demons of her past. Every bad thing is ultimately attached to this house, where the abuse all started so many years ago. All these feelings of guilt, anger, and regret are just too much to handle all at once.
She throws rocks at the house in anger as a way of getting back at her father for what he did to her and forget her bad past, but it doesn’t seem to do any good. “I guess sometimes, there just aren’t enough rocks”, is Forrest’s way of saying that no matter how hard we try, we can’t always forget the bad things that happen. Now we see her going back into this depression again after she seems happy for the first time. Forrest asks her to marry him, but she doesn’t feel she deserves to marry him. She is pushing him away again. She even goes as far to imply that he isn’t smart enough to, “know what love is”.
Forrest replies to her, “I am not a smart man, but I know what love is”. She finally admits that she loves him and shows him in the only way she knows, through sex. She has every intention of getting pregnant at this moment as a way of doing at least one good thing in her life. In typical Jenny fashion though, she runs away without a word. Now she’s all alone and having a baby, so she is forced to face her past weather or not she likes it. It takes a lot of strength and courage for her to face the mistakes she’s made throughout her life, and even more to admit her faults. This shows what an amazing woman she is.
She doesn’t contact Forrest about the baby because she needs to learn to stand on her own two feet for once in her life. She’s learning to take care of herself, as well as another human life. While working one day, Jenny sees Forrest on the television running across the country. It’s at this point she decides it’s finally time to contact. She has accepted her fate and needs to let Forrest know the truth. Forrest finally arrives at Jenny’s apartment after she wrote him a letter to come see her. It’s at this point little Forrest comes in an Jenny introduces big Forrest to his son for the first time.
As they’re sitting in the park getting re-acquainted, Jenny drops this bomb about how she’s sick with a virus and dying. Being the good man that he is, Forrest asks her and little Forrest to come live with him so he can take care of her. She asks him to marry her, he accepts. She has faced her past and is finally able to accept all the things she has done and had done to her. She is finally able to be happy, even if for just a brief moment in time. After many years of being lost, Jenny finally has peace and happiness within.
Shortly after they get married, in a quaint beautiful ceremony taken place at their home, Jenny passes away. This heartbreaking moment occurs and Forrest pays final tribute to her by having her childhood home torn down. Her final resting place is at the big willow tree where she an Forrest spent so many happy times together. In the end, she gets what she wished for all along and becomes free. It’s at the end of this film that we see all those birds land at her final resting place, which symbolizes her being free and finally finding a home and place where she belongs.
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