"The World According to Garp" is an unusual 1978 novel by John Irving which was made into a film, released in 1982. The movie stars Robin Williams, Glenn Close, Mary Beth Hurt, and John Lithgow. The acting is quite good and the story is very intriguing and thought-provoking, although somewhat bizarre.
Robin Williams plays the role of Garp, the illegitimate son of nurse Jenny Fields (Close), an avid feminist who refuses to get married but still wants a child, so she impregnates herself with the sperm of a dying soldier during World War II. Garp remains pleasantly curious about his father for his whole life, dreaming of being a pilot like him.
Garp grows up in a small town in New England. In high school, he falls for Helen Home, daughter of his wrestling coach, who tells him she wants to marry a writer, which inspires him to become one. After high school, he moves to New York City with his mother, where they both write. Garp writes a depressing short story called "Missing Gloves" and his mother writes a groundbreaking feminist book called "Sexual Suspect", from which she becomes rich and famous. Garp, on the other hand, remains relatively unknown, although Helen agrees to marry him after reading "Missing Gloves".
Garp and Helen buy a "pre-disrupted" house after a small plane crashes into it. They have two sons, whom Garp grows very fond of. After several years of marriage, however, Helen becomes unhappy and ends up having an affair with one of her graduate students, whom she teachers. Once Garp learns of the affair, he thrusts to leave her along with their sons. On the way back home, he has a terrible car accident which kills his youngest son.
Following some therapy at Garp's mother's nursing home, Garp and Helen become reunited. They decide to have another child.
Among Jenny's many regular visitors is a group of women known as the Ellen James Society, formed in honor of Ellen James, a rape victim who had had her tongue cut off. In protest of what happened, the Ellen Jamesians all cut off their tongues. Garp is sympathetic to Ellen but not at all to the society. He ends up writing a book called Ellen, explaining to the world Ellen's predicament. Ellen James becomes grateful to him for writing the book, but he angers one Ellen Jamesian, who ends up killing him.
By David Terr
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