Forrest Gump: the Vietnam War Through the Eyes of a Child

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Forrest Gump
The Vietnam War Through the Eyes of a Child

In Winston Groom's Forrest Gump, the main character, Forrest Gump is involved in the Vietnam War. In the novel, he is mentally challenged and he sees everything somewhat differently then another individual might. His point of view of the events of the Vietnam War are child-like and different then what most people would see.

The Vietnam War was a very tragic war. The events took place from 1954-1975 (Brigham). The Second Indochina War resulted from a long conflict between France and Vietnam. After 100 years of colonial rule, in July of 1954, France was forced to leave Vietnam. Nationalist forces defeated French troops at Dien Bien Phu in the northwest corner of Vietnam. This battle proved to the French that they were no longer able to keep their Indochinese colonies and they quickly moved for peace.

The Geneva Peace Accords were signed by France and Vietnam in the summer of 1954 (Brigham). The Peace Accords reflected the strains of the international cold war. They represented the worst of all possible futures for war-torn Vietnam. According the the Accords, Vietnam would hold national elections in 1956 to reunify the country. With the election, the division at the seventeenth parallel, a temporary separation without cultural precedent would vanish. The United States did not agree with the Geneva Accords because they thought it granted too much power to the Communist Party Of Vietnam. President Dwight D. Eisenhower instead Camejo 2

supported the creation of a counter revolutionary alternative south of the seventeenth parallel. The United States supported the nation-building effort through a series of multilateral agreements that created the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO).

The Eisenhower administration created a new nation in southern Vietnam using SEATO as its political cover. In 1955 with much American aid, the Government of the Republic of Vietnam, or South Vietnam was born. The following year Ngo Dinh Diem was elected president of South Vietnam. Diem claimed that his new government was under attack from Communists in the north. He argued the North Vietnam wanted to take South Vietnam by force. In late 1957, Diem began to counterattack. President Eisenhower sent weapons and American military advisers to South Vietnam to train a South Vietnamese army. Diem passed a series of acts known as Law 10/59 that made it legal to hold someone in jail if that person was a suspected Communist without bringing formal charges. His government arrested thousands. The outcry was immediate. Many groups in opposition to Diem's rule attacked his troops and the secret police. This just furthered Diem's complaints of South Vietnam trying to be taken by force.

Between 1956 and 1960, the Communist Party of Vietnam desired to reunify to country through political means alone. The Communist Party tried to cause Diem's collapse by exerting a large amount of internal political pressure but were unsuccessful. Diem's attacks on suspected Southern Communists convinced the party to adopt more violent tactics. In January 1959, the Communist Party approved the use of revolutionary violence to overthrow Diem's government and liberate South Vietnam. In May 1959 and September 1960, the party confirmed its use of violence and combination of political and armed struggle movements. This resulted in the creation of a united front to help mobilize southerners in oppostion to North Vietnam. The united front brought together Communists and Non-Communists that opposed Diem and wanted to unify Vietnam. The National Liberation Front was created on December 20, 1960. Washington Camejo 3

denounced the NLF. They referred
to it as Viet Cong, which was a derogatory and slang term meaning Vietnamese Communists although the organization was mostly non-Communists.
The Kennedy Administration seemed split on the Diem regime. Some advisers told the president to withdraw from Vietnam and...
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