Study Guide

The World According to Garp Chapter 6

By John Irving

Chapter 6

The Pension Grillparzer

  • It's spring and Garp still hasn't finished his story. Jenny, on the other hand, has made a breakthrough and is finally satisfied with her work.
  • He's still seeing Charlotte. In fact, she even takes him to her personal physician—Doktor Thalhammer—after he catches gonorrhea from a frisky American student.
  • But then Charlotte disappears; the other working girls warn him that her "sex is sick" (6.16).
  • Charlotte has been staying at the Rudolfinerhaus, Vienna's only private hospital. But while she has enough money to afford a private room, things aren't looking good so far.
  • Garp visits her frequently. He tells a nurse that he's Charlotte's son, and Charlotte appreciates the gesture; she dies "a week later" (6.35).
  • Garp sees his first opera that night. He meets one of Charlotte's friends, named Tina, who tells him that Charlotte "bought Garp a favor" (6.44), but he politely refuses.
  • Garp has stopped writing to Helen altogether. When Helen sends Jenny a letter asking about Garp, Jenny sends back a copy of her autobiography—titled A Sexual Suspect—instead.
  • Finally, Garp sends Helen a letter telling her that he wants to marry her. Her response, more or less, is to "go stick it in [his] ear" (6.56). Garp responds that he has completed his story and that it will prove to her how serious he is.
  • Meanwhile, Jenny learns about a publisher named John Wolf, and she decides to send him A Sexual Suspect when she returns to the States. Garp sends Helen his story before they fly back home.
  • Next, we're shown the conclusion to the "The Pension Grillparzer."
  • It's the morning-after and the whole family is complaining to Theobald about their ordeals; the mystic and singer are sitting in the same spots, more or less.
  • One of men apologizes and tells Dad that their circus has been staying at the hotel because they married Theobald's sister.
  • Yes, they—apparentlyTheobald's sister is married to the mystic and the singer. Their circus has gone through hard times in recent years, but Theobald is too kind-hearted to throw them out.
  • Regardless, he needs a "B rating to attract more tourists" (6.115), so Theobald's sister is out front with the bear, hoping to attract some tourists herself.
  • On the way out, the family debates what rating to give the pension. Father, out of mercy, decides to give them their much-needed "B" rating.
  • Years pass and Johanna passes away. Oddly, Mom is now having the same dream repeated by the mystic all those year ago.
  • After his parents' death, the narrator decides to visit the Pension Grillparzer with his second wife.
  • Herr Theobald is dead, and all of the members of the circus have died, too—everyone, that is, except for Theobald's sister.
  • The bear was eventually banned from the inside after scaring away too many guests. He was sent to live in a cage and died "a short two months after he'd take up his new lodgings" (6.161).
  • The narrator and his wife drive home.