Sweet Home Alabama
Where the skies are blue
Symbolism of the feather in the film
Various interpretations have been suggested for the feather present at the opening and conclusion of the film. Sarah Lyall of The New York Times noted several opinions that were made about the feather: « Does the white feather symbolize the unbearable lightness of being? Forrest Gump’s impaired intellect? The randomness of experience? » Hanks interpreted the feather as: « Our destiny is only defined by how we deal with the chance elements to our life and that’s kind of the embodiment of the feather as it comes in. Here is this thing that can land anywhere and that it lands at your feet. It has theological implications that are really huge. » Sally Field compared the feather to fate, saying: « It blows in the wind and just touches down here or there. Was it planned or was it just perchance? » Visual effects supervisor Ken Ralston compared the feather to an abstract painting: « It can mean so many things to so many different people. »
The feather is stored in a book titled Curious George, Forrest’s favorite book, which his mother read to him, connecting the scene’s present time with his childhood in the 1940s. The placement of the feather in the book is directly on a picture of the monkey walking on a tightrope. Whether that was intentional or not, it is very symbolic. The feather also has a correlation with Jenny’s constant obsession with « becoming a bird and flying far far away » due to the abuse (sexual and physical) she endured from her father. She goes as far in the film as to ask Forrest if she jumped off the bridge, could she fly?