The structure of Jenny’s life begins with her beliefs, morals, goals and capabilities of change throughout her lifetime. Early in life, she seemed to have dreams and goals for the future. She desired to be a performer, singer, songwriter and musician. Unfortunately, those aspirations were destroyed when she instead became a nude model and stripper, which killed her college career when she was expelled. She degraded herself and could never recover the self-respect and respect from others that she lost from doing that.
There are many examples throughout her life that she seemingly set herself up for failure, as she gets into unhealthy, abusive relationships, and relies heavily on drugs, alcohol and a life of promiscuity. Jenny never followed through with her dreams or made responsible decisions. Her principles and standards changed as her surroundings did. She made many bad choices that led her down a life of destruction. The Social Cognitive process is demonstrated throughout the move as we watch her struggle in life. As Forrest becomes increasingly successful in most things he does. She admires him so much and deeply cares for him as a friend.
They remain in contact in high school and periodically throughout life. She reaches out during some of her more desperate times or runs into him as fate would have it. Forrest asks Jenny to marry him, however, she replies, “You don’t want to marry me”. I speculate that she compares her life to his and therefore feels beneath him, and that he deserves better than herself. He replies that he may be stupid but he knows what love is and in fact does want to be with her. Later that night she slips into his room and they make love. Early in the morning however, she leaves without a word.
It is possible that she felt like she made a mistake and did not want to drag him down with her. Her growth and development was demonstrated as her social learning skills were developed throughout life through observation. After her mother died, there was no one to protect her and her sisters from her drunk father that sexually molested them. She is then influenced by the anti-Vietnam war protestors she becomes involved with during her life as a hippie. The direct contact with several extreme activists and other negative groups lead her into a more negative slope. As she lives on, she continues to make terrible decisions.
She becomes an increasingly immoral person, and is filled with extremely low self-esteem and deep depression. Jenny does not demonstrate self-efficacy. She slides down a slippery slope of denying her true pain and anguish. She runs away from her fears and feelings and goes out into the world of destruction to attempt to escape her past. She depends on the environment she is in to determine her future, goals, and values. As the movie flashes throughout several different scenarios, Jenny lives through, one-thing remains consistent, and she seeks the ability to forget the past.
She does not want to deal with it therefore, she uses sex, drugs, extremist views and lifestyle with hopes it will distract her from the scary truth of her history. Finally, Jenny writes Forest to meet up so she can introduce him to his son. It is only then that she becomes concerned with herself, as well as her son’s well-being. For once, she actually wants to do better from them. She decided to marry Forrest and set her child up for a good example of a healthy family dynamic. It does not appear Jenny ever dealt with her past, her feelings, and the underlying issues that caused her grief.
She did however, finally feel real love before she passed away. She understood what it felt like to be unconditionally cared for; something she never thought was possible. Trait Theory Jenny’s personality traits change throughout her life. She was not consistent from childhood to adulthood. As a child, she was kind, caring and generous. As she aged, she became increasingly nervous, scared and unsure of her surroundings. As she moves into late adolescence and early adulthood, she harbors the same fearful attitude and decides to run away, wander and travel with hopes a finding a new identity.
Throughout life, she remains in love with Forest but does not love herself, therefore is unable to accept his love in return. Her personality traits come for a lack of understanding of why she experienced such painful things at such a young age. She never received love from her father, but was instead abused physically, emotionally and sexually. This trauma caused her inability to know love, receive love or understand that unconditional love truly exists. We know that her mother died when Jenny was just 5 years old. We do not, however, know why. This may also have influenced her growth and development.
We do know that her father has some extreme mental health issues due to his abuse towards his daughters as well as the alcohol usage. As her environment changes throughout life, so does her personality traits. She continues to run from one situation to worse because she is not dealing with the true underlying issues. She ultimately runs to drugs in an extreme desperation to rid her memory of the pain of the past. The Big Five Trait Factor Scale appears as follows: Openness: Very High – Jenny is a creative, inquisitive, imaginative and unconventional.
Conscientiousness: High – Before her life ended, after having a child, she finally learned to make the most responsible decision for herself and her child. Extraversion: High – Jenny had to always have someone in her company, whether it be Forrest or male company in the form of boyfriend, male clients or her hippie friends. She finds pleasure in being social. Agreeableness: Very High – Jenny is ultimately a kind hearted and helpful person with good intensions. Neuroticism: Very High – Jenny is highly insecure. This is the reason she bounces from one place to the next so often.
This is why she completely submits to men and chooses those that treat her with the same disrespect her father one did. There is no formal model of change in Jenny’s life. Her traits simply change throughout the film as she pursues the task of running away to find herself and erase the past. She completes the cycle of the one sweet, kind and generous Jenny as a child, to a life of self-hatred and destruction, then back to seemingly healthy personality traits of a loving, caring person. After having a child, then learning that she is sick and dying, she finally faces reality and learns to love, accept and embrace love and peace.