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“The World According to Garp” a Book by John Irving Essay (Critical Writing)


Abstract

The paper is a critical analysis of one of the most famous books of John Irving that is called The World According to Garp. Many critics appreciate the book because of its unique plot. The story of the writer named Garp became so popular that famous director George Roy Hill created its movie adaptation. The book is focused on the life of T.S. Garp who has to survive the difficulties during his entire life. Despite all the tricks of his fortune, he continues developing his writing skills as creative work prevents him from being depressed. The book touches upon certain social phenomena of the time such as feminist movement. In spite of its tragicalness, the book seems to be attractive for the readers due to its unusual plot and plain language.

Introduction

The World According to Garp is one of the most famous novels by John Irving that was written in 1978 (John Irving, 2015, para. 8). It is the fifth book of the author and he wrote it to express opinion on many social issues. As a young boy, he was interested in wrestling and this topic appears in many of his works. The purpose of the book is telling the reader a story of one writer who has experienced many highs and lows during his lifetime. The book was appreciated by critics and it won the National Book Award for Fiction in 1980 (Amabile, 2011, p.333). It also has a movie adaptation that came out in 1982. Personally, I believe that author did his best in achieving his goal as the book raises important topics, its plot is unusual, and its language makes it attractive for the reader.

Summary

John Irving’s book The World According to Garp was published in 1978. The book is a story of a nurse’s son who wants to become a writer. T.S.Garp, the protagonist of the story, is brought up by a single mother. She does not believe marriage to be the ultimate value for a woman, and she has never wanted to have a husband. At the same time, she believes that a child would bring certain happiness to her life. Thus, she uses one of her patients’ semen to impregnate herself. The patient dies and she decides to name her future child after him. The author describes Garp’s childhood as quite a difficult period as he often gets into mischief. In older age, he encounters his future wife Helen who is a daughter of his coach. That moment he decides to become a writer. Garp and Helen become a family and Helen gives birth to three children. Some time after, they start stepping out on each other, and Garp gets another stroke of misfortune as one of his sons dies.

Contextual Analysis

The World According to Garp tells about Garp’s engagement to the feminist community. To some extent, the book touches upon the features of sexual revolution; it shows a sharp contrast between the asexual behaviour of Garp’s mother and his own striving for trying everything. He and his wife Helen belong to the younger generation that does not put a stress on fidelity. As a result, they lose a sense of unity and mutual respect that is a foundation of every family. Social environment of the described period is characterized by the growth of feminist movement caused by increase in violence against women and girls (Brabcova, 2015, p. 7). The topic of feminism is closely connected to the plot of the book. Garp’s mother writes a book that becomes very popular among feminists. The book written by Jenny tells the story of her life, it touches upon the difficulties that asexual women face. Jenny describes the way that society treats women who do not consider housekeeping and motherhood to be their primary task. Overall, feminist culture belongs to the number of cultural forces that influence characters and their attitudes to life.

Evaluation

The discussed book is aimed at telling the story that would be interesting due to numerous plot twists. In fact, the chain of events described throughout the book cannot be regarded as predictable. Turning the page, the reader never knows what is going to happen next. The book presents the story of a creative thinker focusing his efforts on writing the book that will make him popular. Every author needs inspiration to write something that will be worth reading but Garp’s life does not seem to be very inspiring. He faces many difficulties including his wife’s love affair with a student and the death of his son Walt. Being shocked by these events, he finds a nerve to transform his depression into the creative energy to write one more book devoted to the recent events of his life. With every new chapter, Garp suffers new misfortunes but he never stops searching for the happiness. In addition, the resolution of the book also appears to be quite unexpected. I believe that the plot of this book really deserves readers’ attention.

The language of the book also helps the author to achieve his goal. This book does not seem to be aimed at some specific audience because the author does not make the language of the book too complicated (Wages, 2014, p.13). Instead, he focuses his attention on describing all the events in terms that can be understood by wider audience. He also uses a variety of literary devices making the story more vivid. The book contains very detailed descriptions that help the reader to imagine the characters. For instance, talking about his mother, Garp calls her “a lonely wolf” (Irving, 1986, p. 16). Overall, the book is easy to read as it is does not contain unnecessary elements.

As for the topics touched upon in this book, I believe that everyone is likely to see this story in his own way. As for me, this book is about a sustaining power of the people whose lives cannot be called happy. Describing the protagonist of the story, John Irving pays much attention to his background. Moreover, the author finds an unusual way to show us gradual development of Garp’s writing talent. For that, he inserts fragments of Garp’s novels and essays into the text. The protagonist never stops developing his talent as he was writing “a short story every month he was at Steering.” (Irving, 1986, p.100) He is shown as a man who has survived many difficulties; at the same time, he possesses certain mental strength that prevents him from hanging his head (George, 2016, p.184). For instance, even the death of his son makes him dive into the work. Despite the sufferings, he always hopes for the best.

Conclusion

Overall, the book is definitely worth reading as it has a plot with many twists, and it raises the important topics of family, dream, and persistence. What is more, it is easy to read due to its plain language. Besides, detailed descriptions and numerous dialogues make the reader share the characters’ feelings. To conclude, The World According to Garp is a tragic story that will leave nobody indifferent.

References

Amabile, T. M. (2011). Beyond talent: John Irving and the passionate craft of creativity. American Psychologist, 56(4), 333.

Brabcova, B. K. (2015). Ambivalent portrayal of feminism in John Irving’s The World According to Garp (Doctoral dissertation, Masarykova univerzita, Brno, Czechia). Retrieved from http://is.muni.cz

George, J. (2016). Conclusion: Changing the suburban myth. In Postmodern Suburban Spaces (pp. 183-189). New York, NY: Springer International Publishing.

Irving, J. (1986). The world according to Garp. London, UK: Black Swan.

(2015). In Encyclopaedia Britannica online. Web.

Wages, J. D. (2014). Disappearing letters and breaking rules: John Irving as namer. Literary Onomastics Studies, 15(1), 13.

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IvyPanda. (2020, September 4). "The World According to Garp" a Book by John Irving. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-world-according-to-garp-a-book-by-john-irving/

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""The World According to Garp" a Book by John Irving." IvyPanda, 4 Sept. 2020, ivypanda.com/essays/the-world-according-to-garp-a-book-by-john-irving/.

1. IvyPanda. ""The World According to Garp" a Book by John Irving." September 4, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-world-according-to-garp-a-book-by-john-irving/.


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IvyPanda. ""The World According to Garp" a Book by John Irving." September 4, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-world-according-to-garp-a-book-by-john-irving/.

References

IvyPanda. 2020. ""The World According to Garp" a Book by John Irving." September 4, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-world-according-to-garp-a-book-by-john-irving/.

References

IvyPanda. (2020) '"The World According to Garp" a Book by John Irving'. 4 September.

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