Study Guide

The World According to Garp Chapter 15

By John Irving

Chapter 15

The World According to Bensenhaver

  • We're now presented with the opening chapter of The World According to Bensenhaver.
  • It opens on a woman named Hope Standish at home with her son Nicky. Suddenly, a man named Oren Rath barges in and puts a "fisherman's knife" (15.1) to Nicky's throat.
  • Oren cuts the phone cord and leads Hope to her bedroom, demanding that she take off her clothes.
  • They hear a voice downstairs—it's Margot, Hope's neighbor. Hope shouts about Oren and tells Margot to "take Nicky" (15.31) and run; she does.
  • Oren drags Hope into his truck. In fact, the truck passes by the office of Dorsey Standish, Hope's husband. He sees the truck go by but has no clue what's happening inside.
  • They take a desolate country road until Oren stops at what must be his home. There are two men there: Raspberry and Weldon Rath.
  • Oren wants to switch out trucks—he suspects that Margot saw his license plate—so they move to a black truck and drive down "mile-long plots of country roads" (15.73).
  • Hope speaks up, but Oren punches her in the nose. So she spits blood in his face and bites his hand, but he just responds by hitting her again and pushing her head into his lap.
  • He tells her that he'll kill her once he's finished; in a desperate attempt to buy herself time, she performs oral sex on Oren.
  • Suddenly, Oren stops the car and forces Hope away. He thinks that he'll catch a disease unless he wears a condom.
  • He pulls a condom out and tells her to take off her dress, but ends up finishing before he begins. He begins to rape Hope.
  • Hope, meanwhile, is fumbling through Oren's pants. She finds what she's looking for—"the bony handle of the fisherman's knife" (15.119).
  • Margot has already contacted the police, and Arden Bensenhaver, a police inspector, and one of his deputies, are now sweeping the countryside in a helicopter. The Rath name comes up, so the officers land next to the ratty home and pig farm.
  • Bensenhaver sees Oren's pickup. The Raths are cagey, but Bensenhaver says that they will be castrated without a trial if they're lying. Of course, this is a lie, but Raspberry spills the beans.
  • Meanwhile, Hope has the knife in her hand. Oren is about to finish, so she has to act fast. She stabs him with "the long blade" (15.240), slicing up his neck and stomach.
  • When he finally stops moving, Hope gets out of the car. Then she hears a voice from overhead: It's Bensenhaver.
  • Hope recounts her story. Bensenhaver is an extremely sympathetic because he believes that "there was no crime as serious as rape" (15.278).
  • Bensenhaver's wife was raped soon after they were married. They went to a laundromat in the middle of the day, and he waited in the car while she went inside. Three kids raped her and stuffed her into a drying machine, where she suffocated and died.
  • Bensenhaver and the deputy take a long look at the crime scene. The deputy notices the condom, but Bensenhaver throws it away—he knows that it will raise suspicion that this wasn't a rape.
  • When they're finished, Bensenhaver takes Hope onto the helicopter. Hope is "grateful" (15.284) to have Bensenhaver on her side, but the old policeman is nervous about how her husband will respond.