The Social Imagination of Forrest Gump

analytical Essay
1628 words
1628 words

The Sociological Imagination of Forrest Gump
The Sociological Imagination Concept As Illustrated by the Movie, Forrest Gump

What is sociological imagination? Our textbook describes sociological imagination as the ability to see our private experiences, personal difficulties, and achievements as, in part, a reflection of the structural arrangements of society and the times in which we live. The movie entitled Forrest Gump is a great example of sociological imagination. In this paper, I will cite examples from the movie and tell how they correlate with sociological imagination. Sociological imagination allows us examine the events of our lives and see how they intersect with the wider context of history and tradition of the society in which we live. (Hughes/Kroehler, The Core, p. 7)
One event in the movie that really stands out to me as a good example of sociological imagination is Forrest’s stay at the Watergate Hotel. While recovering from a wound received in the Vietnam War, Forrest discovered and developed an outstanding talent for playing table tennis. Due to his exceptional table tennis skills, Forrest was called to Washington, D.C., and recognized as the “Player of the Year.” He went to the White House to receive this award. As President Nixon presented the award to him, he asked where Forrest was staying. Forrest commented, in his very innocent way, that the hotel was not very nice or well kept. Nixon apparently thought Forrest deserved much better accommodations and told Forrest he would arrange for a better place. In the next scene of the movie, Forrest is on the phone with hotel security and is looking across the way into another wing of the hotel. Forrest suggests to the man on the phone that the hotel needs to send a maintenance person “to the room across the way.” He explains that there are some men with flashlights in that room, and he (Forrest) thinks that they are trying to locate a fuse box. In actuality, instead of locating a fuse box, the scene he described was the infamous break-in at the Watergate Hotel. Had Forrest never been shot in the Vietnam War, a major occurrence in society during Forrest’s lifetime, Forrest would never have started playing table tennis nor received the prestigious award from President Nixon. The War was the event in society that shaped Forrest’s pe...

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...rrest Gump’s personal life. The Vietnam War was probably the most significant of these historical events as it places Forrest in a position to make two friendships, Bubba and Lt. Dan, who were instrumental in his motivation and future financial successes in personal life. Other happenings in society such as economic conditions after a war, the attitudes of people toward handicapped when Forrest was growing up, racism, special treatment for talented athletes, and many others are only a few examples of historical events that were woven with the personal life of Forrest and his friends. I have cited in my paper just a few of the many examples of the concept of sociological imagination depicted in this movie. As one reviews this movie, one becomes cognizant of the many happenings in society that influence and shape Forrest’s, Bubba’s, and Lt. Dan’s lives. Before studying the concept of sociological imagination in sociology class, I never thought about the effect of the events taking place in society intersecting with the characters’ lives. Now, I realize that sociological imagination is the underlying theme of this movie.
Bibliography: Hughes/Kroehler, The Core
Forrest Gump, The Movie

In this essay, the author

  • Describes sociological imagination as the ability to see our private experiences, personal difficulties, and achievements as, in part, a reflection of the structural arrangements of society and the times in which we live.
  • Analyzes how the vietnam war shaped forrest's personal life in many ways, but his stay at the watergate hotel provided the path for his life and society to intersect.
  • Analyzes how forrest's sociological imagination coincided with his opportunity to attend college at the university of alabama.
  • Analyzes how forrest's simple, personal act of kindness intersected with the struggle of society to de-segregate the schools.
  • Analyzes how forrest's participation in the vietnam war is the most significant example of sociological imagination or social web as c. wright mills sometimes called it.
  • Analyzes how forrest befriends his paraplegic, former commander, lt. dan, who promised him he would become a shrimp boat operator. they eventually became millionaires due to these intersecting events.
  • Analyzes how the vietnam war throws together bubba, forrest, and lt. dan together, resulting in unique business successes in their personal lives.
  • Explains that the movie, forrest gump, contains numerous examples of sociological imagination. the vietnam war was probably the most significant of these historical events.
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