Assess the impact of works of absurd historical fiction such as Forrest Gump on American's understanding of history.

Expert Answers
Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I tend to think that the answer to such a question is a complex one.  At one end of the spectrum is that history should not be represented by works likeForrest Gump.  There is a significant challenge when the sum total of anyone's historical understanding is one work.  If anyone's comprehension of the challenges of racial integration in America or the subtleties of Vietnam, as well as the American domestic scene post- Vietnam is gained through only one source, it is problematic.  If anyone understands Vietnam as something that "Forrest went through," then one's view of history is corrupted.  Yet, it is not the fault of the work for doing this.  In the end, works like Forrest Gump seek to bring out an individual aspect of these wide- ranging historical realities. In doing so, greater sense of initiation about how history is viewed can be understood.  It is through a work like this where individuals can see historical reality experienced and then use this to spin off further exploration and understanding about these experiences.  In this, the work does not corrupt historical understanding, but rather enhances it, beginning the process of further historical development and growth.