Symbolic Interaction In Forrest Gump

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Symbolic Interaction
The “shared meanings of symbols that humans have created, whether material or non-material” (Class notes).
At the beginning and end of the movie, a white feather floats in the wind. The white feather symbolizes destiny and luck.
Through this use of symbolic interaction and metaphor, Forrest Gump discusses the path we take in all of our lives, and if it is determined by destiny, or just luck/chance. As Forrest says himself, “I don't know if we each have a destiny, or if we're all just floatin' around accidental-like on a breeze. But I, I think maybe it's both.”
Structural Functionalism
The theory that inequality is not only inevitable, it is necessary (Class notes). This includes society’s expectations of its members (Class
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After the Vietnam war, Forrest reunites with Jenny and visits the Black Panthers. Jenny is slapped by her boyfriend, and Forrest is shocked. He attacks her boyfriend, and tells Jenny that he would never hit her.
The humanistic approach to psychology focuses on empathy and positive human behavior. Forrest is showing empathy to Jenny because he knows that she would never want to get hit, and he is angry that anyone would want to hit her. He is also protective of Jenny because he loves her. Forrest’s self-actualization is marrying Jenny and spending their lives together. The Black Panther scene is just one example of Forrest being protective of Jenny and displaying humanistic traits.
Psychoanalytic Perspective
The study pioneered by Sigmund Freud of the “effects of subconscious feelings and early childhood experiences on behavior” (Harrison, p. 18)
When talking to the black women on the bench, Forrest mentions how it's weird how you remember some memories, but others not at
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Without a chance to develop and learn in the school system, Forrest is already at disadvantage because the system itself believes that he is unable to learn effectively.
Believing that one race is superior to others, and using this ideology to deny “opportunities and equal rights to groups of people because of prejudice or other arbitrary reasons” (Class notes)
The Alabama and southern culture is shown in Forrest Gump, particularly when the University of Alabama allowed black people to enroll at the university. Students are shown calling them “coons,” and the decision was met with a lot of controversy and riots. Even the governor at the time, George Wallace, opposed desegregation of schools.
The Jim Crow and exclusionary beliefs that southern states like Alabama held during the time period in this movie is a direct example of racism and discrimination against black people.
White Supremacy/Dominance
The belief that white people in particular are the superior race, and forcing this belief upon society for their benefit, whether intentional or not.
Forrest is named after his ancestor Nathan Bedford Forrest, who was a confederate general and eventual Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux
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