Foreshadowing About Feet in Forrest Gump

There is one item of G.I. gear that can be the difference between a live grunt and a dead grunt. Socks, cushion, sole, O.D. green. Try and keep your feet dry when we’re out humpin’. I want you boys to remember to change your socks wherever we stop. The Mekong will eat a grunt’s feet right off his legs. –Lieutenant Dan

Some friends and I watched Forrest Gump for the first time in a long time. Had a lot of fun casually shouting out bits of literary analysis. This thing about feet was something that we talked about. Minds blown.

Forrest and Bubba Meet Lieutenant Dan
Forrest and Bubba Meet Lieutenant Dan

But what is the point of foreshadowing in this context? We study foreshadowing in class and the usual lowdown is that “it helps give hints for what’s coming next,” or “helps make the ending make sense.” But why choose to foreshadow what’s going to happen to the Lieutenant’s feet? Most people just remember that he loses his legs. Without the foreshadowing bit, everyone would still remember that Lieutenant Dan lost his legs. Why go into all that trouble including those lines?

In this case, it probably has something to do with supporting an important metaphor. The Lieutenant and Forrest are representations of a broken America. Both of them had issues with standing and walking properly. Coincidentally, they both served in the Vietnam War.

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