Jenny from Forrest Gump Personality Trait Analysis

Topics: Child abuse, Abuse, Trait theory Pages: 10 (3801 words) Published: August 14, 2012
The relationship between Jenny and Forrest is initially looked at as Forrest’s savior, but Jenny also saw it as a way to escape her father when they were children, then later giving Forrest the role of safety net. He was always there when Jenny needed someone to lean on. She cares for Forrest very much and while she is kindhearted, she has also shown how selfish and self-destructing she is. By the end of her life she redeems herself by fulfilling Forrest’s dream to marry her while simultaneously leaving her son with his father to be taken care of. We first meet Jenny when she altruistically offers Forrest the seat next to her on the bus when all the other children said “this seat’s taken.” After that Jenny and Forrest became best friends with her teaching Forrest to read and stood up to his bullies, while Forrest stayed with her and prayed when Jenny’s father would yell at her in his drunken stupor. Jenny’s father physically and sexually abused her sisters and her throughout their childhood which has a lasting effect on Jenny. “The development of a sense of self is thought to be one of the earliest developmental tasks of the infant and young child, typically unfolding in the context of early relationships. How a child is treated (or maltreated) early in life influences his or her growing self-awareness. As a result, severe child maltreatment – including early and sustained sexual abuse – may interfere with the child’s development of a sense of self” (Briere & Elliott, 1994, p. 58). As well as being kind and altruistic to Forrest, Jenny is also averagely intelligent – she teaches Forrest to read, courageous and supportive – she stands by Forrest when the other boys bully him and because she tell him to “run Forrest, run!” he breaks out of his leg braces and finds a talent in running, extremely fast that gets him a football scholarship to the University of Alabama. As they get older, Jenny becomes more flighty and untamed. She cannot stay committed to something and develops a high level of promiscuity. “Sexual arousal and positive sexual attention can temporarily mask or dispel chronic abuse-related emotional pain by providing more pleasurable or distress-incompatible experiences” (Briere & Elliott, 1994, p. 61). She is determined to get out of Alabama and make something of herself by any means necessary and risqué behavior is the easiest way for her to do it. “Hedonic and eudemonic happiness reflect two distinct psychological states. By trying to maximize pleasures and avoiding displeasures, the hedonic approach induces a fluctuation happiness in which phases of pleasure and displeasure alternated repeatedly. The experience of pleasure is by nature fleeting and dependent up circumstances” (Dambrun & Ricard, 2011, p. 139). In college Forrest finds her kissing another boy in his car and mistakes it for a physical attack resulting in the boy getting hit. After yelling at Forrest she sneaks him into her dorm for the night. Later she gets kicked out of the all-girls’ college for posing in Playboy magazine. When Forrest is in the army and visit’s Jenny to hear her sing (she wanted to be a folk singer like Joan Baez), he finds her singing and playing guitar naked with some male patrons harassing her. Again, Forrest steps in and hits the men to protect Jenny. She gets mad at Forrest at first but then laments on how dire her life is how depressed she is, and has thought about ending it. Through all the emotions, Jenny still cares deeply for Forrest and tells him to “not to be brave and run” when he tells her he is going to Vietnam. While Forrest is over in Vietnam fighting, Jenny has become a hippie and travels the country with ‘friends.’ The two are reunited during a war rally and Jenny takes Forrest to a Black Panthers party where her boyfriend Wesley is and ends up hitting Jenny with Forrest witnessing this. Forrest comes to Jenny’s defense and punches Wesley and she leaves with Forrest. They end up talking all...
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