Jenny’s scrapbook in Forrest Gump, an easy-to-miss detail, changes the nature of both Forrest’s story and the film’s ending, reframing it by adding a much darker twist. Released in 1994, Forrest Gump was an instant classic, securing six Academy Awards, including Best Picture. Adapted by screenwriter Eric Roth from Winston Groom’s novel of the same name, Forrest Gump acts as an examination of modern history, with its titular character having a part in almost every major event in American history throughout the latter half of the 20th century.
Forrest Gump may seem like one of the most innocent protagonists in all of cinema, but one minor detail hints at a darker side to the character. Jenny’s scrapbook of all things offers a glimpse at a newspaper clipping that indicates Forrest has encountered significant legal trouble. This adds another layer to the film that changes everything: not only does Forrest Gump’s personality seem less innocent, the film’s ending changes entirely, painting Jenny in a far more sympathetic light.
Jenny’s Scrapbook Reveals Forrest’s Dark Secret
Jenny’s scrapbook in Forrest Gump, which records Forrest’s extraordinary life, is an obvious token of her affection for him. However, one newspaper clipping boasts the headline “Investigation Of Gump To Continue In Hometown.” Scribbled above, the date of August 30, 1978, can be seen, with the text below saying: “Friends of Forrest Gump have been characteristically evasive in their conjecture regarding his actions. ‘He never knew what he was doing’ said Emilio Sergia. Most people who grew up with him have strong opinions of him. Twelve out of twenty people would say only ‘He’s an idiot,’ as if that should explain everything.“
This outlines that Forrest Gump may have a dark secret, as any investigation into the man thorough enough to visit his hometown to interview locals seems to be particularly robust. The text itself is relatively ambiguous, but the date of the article places it after Forrest received his Medal of Honor and after he made his fortune. These details are particularly pertinent in narrowing down the exact nature of the investigation into Gump and Forrest Gump’s legal troubles.
What Is The Cause Of Forrest Gump’s Legal Trouble?
The exact cause of Forrest’s legal trouble is speculative, as the article in Jenny’s scrapbook in Forrest Gump doesn’t offer any concrete details. However, the specific way in which his business, Bubba Gump Shrimp, is run offers a clue as to what may have caused it. After coming home from Vietnam, Forrest is seen going into business with his former CO, Lieutenant Dan. Forrest Gump is shown to entrust the day-to-day work to his partner, explaining that he never went back to “work for Lieutenant Dan.“
As Lieutenant Dan is characterized as a more worldly and reckless figure than Forrest, it’s entirely possible that he may have engaged in some criminal activity while running the company. As the founder of the company, Forrest would be implicated in anything illegal Dan got involved in, particularly as it bears his name. Combined with other small pieces of evidence that point to Lieutenant Dan possibly defrauding Forrest, this seems the most likely reason for Gump’s legal difficulties. However, once viewed from this lens, Forrest Gump‘s criminal theories further expand.
Forrest May Be Attempting To Influence The Townspeople
At the beginning of the movie, Forrest Gump begins telling his story to someone he meets at a bus stop. Throughout the film, he continues relaying the events of his life to anyone who will listen, as the other travelers come and go. However, considering the newspaper clipping seen in Jenny’s scrapbook in Forrest Gump, it may be that Forrest is attempting to sway the townspeople to his side.
The clipping is dated 1978, and the framing scenes at the bus stop are set in 1982. As Gump is returning to his hometown, it’s possible that he’s telling his story in his own words to the locals in an attempt to curry favor with them. After three years, it’s reasonable to assume that the investigation into him had ceased, so perhaps the recounting of his life story in his own words was his way of reworking the narrative. Forrest Gump‘s story is mostly told from his own perspective, and given the potential nature of the investigation into him, he may be an unreliable narrator.
Minor Details Suggest Forrest Is A Fraud
There are two small details in the film that point to Forrest not being entirely the man he claims to be. The first is simple: if he’s so rich, why would he wear such disgusting, worn-out shoes? According to the theory, this is a result of his having lost his money during the course (or conclusion) of the investigation mentioned in Jenny’s scrapbook in Forrest Gump.
There is one other key piece of evidence, however. The letter that Forrest receives from Apple thanking him for his investment is seen to be dated 1975 – several years before the company went public. In fact, Apple hadn’t even been founded in 1975, making the letter seem like a ruse employed by Forrest Gump’s friend, Lieutenant Dan in order to defraud him and the Bubba Gump Shrimp company. It’s possible that Dan used the company to launder money from a criminal enterprise, and that Forrest’s “good fortune” was actually the result of illegal activity, writing the letter to explain the sudden windfall to his naive friend.
How The Theory Changes Forrest Gump’s Ending
The idea that Forrest Gump was actually implicated in something illegal and, as a result, lost all his money hinges on a few small details, but if accepted as truth, it changes the film’s ending entirely. Whereas viewers have accused Jenny of using Forrest for his wealth – making Jenny’s scrapbook in Forrest Gump more of a manipulative move – the criminal theory actually reverses their roles, with Forrest Gump taking advantage of Jenny’s illness in order to secure a home and a comfortable life. The added presence of his son, Forrest Jr., may simply have been an unexpected bonus.
Being the one to make the scrapbook means that Jenny would have been aware of Forrest’s legal difficulty. As she invited him to come anyway, it’s possible that she looked pragmatically at her situation: she was dying, and Forrest Jr. had a father that also needed to get back on his feet after being implicated in something untoward. If the theory is taken as true, Forrest Gump‘s ending is actually more about Jenny’s ability to forgive, and not Forrest’s.
This Isn’t The Darkest Forrest Gump Theory
Beyond Jenny’s scrapbook in Forrest Gump, the movie’s timeless appeal, open-ended conclusion, and massive but incomplete story have resulted in a number of much darker fan theories than Forrest Gump’s legal troubles. Citing Forrest Gump’s incredible feats – many impossibly occurring during notable events in history – viewers have speculated that Forrest is actually dead, and that his recounting of events are actually the dreams of a child with leg braces who couldn’t outrun lethal bullies.
Meanwhile, another theory proposes that Forrest Jr. isn’t actually Forrest and Jenny’s child – and that Jenny even passed on her illness to both. Morbid, jarring, complex, and infinitely interesting, these fan theories are great examples of how simply reframing one’s perspective can completely change even Forrest Gump, one of Hollywood’s most wholesome classics.
Next: Forrest Gump’s Son Isn’t Actually His Child – Theory Explained