Study Guide

Forrest Gump Setting

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Almost All of American History From 1950 Onward

From the moment he enters college, Forrest has a way of stumbling—sometimes literally—right into the middle of American history. Through the magic of film editing, the folks behind this movie are able to put him into these moments, too. For example, Forrest is present when Governor George Wallace stands in the doorway of the University of Alabama in order to stop black students from attending, and then he meets President Kennedy. (We promise you that Tom Hanks was not actually at either of these seminal moments in American history.)

Forrest also inspires Elvis, meets three presidents in total, writes John Lennon's famous line "it's easy if you try," exposes the Watergate scandal, and then invests in Apple.

Whenever Forrest isn't traveling around the world (China, Vietnam, New York City, Washington, D.C.) and participating in huge historical moments (war protests, the Vietnam War, desegregation), he lives in his hometown of Greenbow, Alabama. In contrast to the world events and places that make up the movie's large scale, Greenbow is portrayed as a gentle backwater where almost nothing happens—and that's just how he likes it.

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