Study Guide

The World According to Garp What's Up With the Ending?

By John Irving

What's Up With the Ending?

So after all of that—the crazy accidents, the immense personal growth, and the massive literary success—Garp is killed by Pooh Percy. If you saw that one coming, then you should really consider a career as a palm reader. Seriously.

But this isn't to say that this ending doesn't make sense; it totally does once you think about it. Pooh is, in many ways, the quintessential Ellen Jamesian—a political faction dedicated to Garp-hating—and when you factor in her personal history with him, dating back to Garp's fling with Cushie, everything starts to fall into place.

It's also fitting that the novel closes with an extended epilogue, tracing the lives and deaths of the whole cast of characters. Even Mrs. Ralph gets a shout-out. This feels like it's straight out of one of Garp's books—as a writer, Garp is dedicated to seeing his stories all of the way through. So it's only right that the characters in the book about him get the same treatment.

After all is said and done, the last character left alive is Jenny Garp, whom we've hardly gotten to know at this point. But she seems to fit her name to perfection, striking an ideal balance between her famous grandmother and famous father. The Garp legacy is in good hands.