Study Guide

Forrest Gump Box of Chocolates

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Box of Chocolates

If 1994 remembers anything from Forrest Gump, it's Forrest's favorite phrase: "My momma always said life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're going to get." You can buy it on a t-shirt, on a mug, or with a whole variety of hilarious variations, such as "Life is like a box of chocolates … full of nuts"; "Life is like a box of chocolates … and I just ate all of them"; etc, etc.

So, it's a super mockable phrase. It's also Forrest's guiding philosophy, and it works for him. In fact, it makes Forrest much more resilient than the people around him. Whenever another friend dies or Jenny again rejects him, Forrest can whip out his favorite saying and keep on going.

In one way, the phrase helps us see how simple Forrest really is. He's not one for complex meditations on life and chance and fate. Concrete, folksy analogies suitable for cross-stitching onto a pillow work much better than ancient philosophy when it comes to navigating through his life. (But, isn't that true for all of us?)

Scratching a little below the surface, this phrase also gives us a little more evidence that the movie might be coming down on the side of chance rather than destiny. After all, Mrs. Gump doesn't tell Forrest, "Life is like a Netflix genre description. You always know what you're going to get." Instead, she says that we never know what's coming for us; we never know whether the feather is going to land; and we never know whether we'll end up dying as millionaires or destitute.

And, if one person is consistently right throughout this whole movie, it's Mrs. Gump.

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