John Irving's "The World According to Garp"

Essay by galwayCollege, UndergraduateA+, January 1997

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When referring to John Irving's book The World According to Garp, it has been said "His style is simplistic, almost childlike...'(55), and "Irving's prose is the prose of a poorly educated man-his vocabulary is uninspiring, his grammatical proprieties is severely limited.'(51) It has also been said that Irving's "instincts are so basically sound, his talents for storytelling are so bright and strong..."(55) I agree with all that has been said to an extent; Irving is by no means perfect when it comes to prose, grammar, and vocabulary, yet I laughed cried and mourned with the characters he created. The story he spun was entertaining, comical, and even inspirational even if it wasn't grammatically perfect. So what makes his story telling so strong and unique that you look past these flaws? His use of irony, but it's not only the irony, it's how he manipulates the irony. I call his technique ironic circling.

Ironic circles are when the author creates irony that starts at the beginning of the book and doesn't stop until the end. The irony just keeps repeating itself over and over again until the reader is so engrossed they can't put the book down. This technique is what John Irving uses to create such a wonderful story, that keeps the reader both interested and entertained.

One of the most interesting ironic circles in this book deals with the death of the main character, Garp. Garp is shot and killed by a woman wearing a Jenny Fields original, Garp's mothers brand of clothing. Garp's mother was one of the first feminist in the 60's to get a lot of publicity, and become an icon to the community. Many splinter movements and groups came to her for support, one of these such groups were the Ellen Jamisons. Garp's killer,