Study Guide

The World According to Garp Chapter 4

By John Irving

Chapter 4


  • Garp writes a short story every month "until his graduation" (4.1), though it takes him until junior year to show one to Helen.
  • Helen's feedback, written in a letter, is lukewarm but kind-hearted; Garp finds an advocate in Professor Tinch, an English teacher with bad breath.
  • One day during his senior year, Garp is walking with Cushie Percy to Steerling River. She teases him about his love for Helen but Garp avoids the subject.
  • They end up next in a secluded spot next to an old cannon. Hormones a ragin', the two teenagers get all makey-outy.
  • Cushie asks Garp if he has a "rubber" (4.93), but Garp doesn't understand. Knowingly, Cushie reaches into the cannon and shows him an old condom.
  • Suddenly they see a golfer on the other side of the river. They can hear his partner shouting at him—it's Fat Stew. The golfer gets stuck and Stew runs down for help, but he immediately loses "a golf shoe and yellow sock to the suction" (4.113).
  • The two teens giggle and hide in the bushes. Cushie performs oral sex on Garp and, afterward, he makes her promise to meet him the next weekend.
  • When he calls her, however, she tells him that her dad knows about their riverside excursion—she tells him that she might be able to see him the weekend before his graduation.
  • He writes Helen a long letter about his lust (not a smooth move, Garp) and she suggests that he go to Europe to learn how to write. Garp digs the idea.
  • When he tells Jenny, however, he realizes that Jenny "meant to stay with him" (4.134). Despite his reservations, they settle on Vienna; what he doesn't know is that Jenny now wants to be a writer too.
  • Finally, Garp graduates. Helen doesn't show up and Garp doesn't see Cushie in the crowd.
  • Although Garp now has his condoms, he doesn't have an opportunity to use them, so he ends up tossing back a few beers with Jenny instead until she passes out "halfway through her second beer" (4.156).
  • Garp sneaks out of the house. Any guesses as to where he's going?
  • Cushie and Garp try to sneak away, but Bonkers, now "half-blind" (4.176), doesn't seem eager to let them go. He barks and barks until the lights come on in the house. Garp and Cushie get away, but not before Garp pulls a Mike Tyson on Bonkers's ear as payback.
  • They manage to get to the infirmary through the campus' underground tunnels. Garp and Cushie have sex three times that night, and he feels great. He feels a little less great, however, when Fat Stew and his crew show up just before dawn.