Study Guide

The World According to Garp Chapter 11

By John Irving

Chapter 11

Mrs. Ralph

  • Garp and Helen make love and Helen falls asleep. Garp, however, is panicked by his dream and decides to check up on Duncan.
  • Garp puts on his jogging shorts (no shirt) and runs to Mrs. Ralph's house.
  • He looks through the windows and sees "the cancerous television" (11.11) blaring while Duncan and Ralph sleep on the couch.
  • Suddenly, a figure emerges from the back of the house: It's Mrs. Ralph wearing nothing but a kimono. She sees Garp and flirtatiously leads him inside.
  • Garp is ready to grab Duncan and go, but Mrs. Ralph has a request: She needs Garp "to get someone out of here" (11.21).
  • She brings him to her room, where he finds a young, naked hippy. Garp has to bring him outside himself.
  • When he returns, he finds Mrs. Ralph crying on her bed. She's embarrassed, but that doesn't stop her from making sexual advances toward Garp. He stops her—albeit half-heartedly.
  • It's past 3:00AM, and for some reason, Garp decides to "clean the kitchen, to kill time until dawn" (11.110).
  • Helen calls the house and Garp picks up. She's suspicious and demands that they come home immediately. Before they leave, however, Mrs. Ralph tells Garp that he'll "be back" (11.159).
  • Garp and Duncan get stopped by the police on their way home. Who can blame them for being suspicious of the shirtless man carrying around a ten-year old?
  • Luckily, they've heard of Garp's heroic park rescue and let him go—even though the young hippy is in the back of the cop car talking trash the whole time.
  • Helen is furious, but she knows that "there is plenty of time to do damage when you know where the war wounds are" (11.254).