Study Guide

The World According to Garp Literature and Writing

By John Irving

Literature and Writing

Books about books are the best books—or so we think around these parts. In The World According to Garp, we follow the life of T.S. Garp, an ambitious young writer with a lot on his plate. First off, there's his mother, a mega-famous writer herself; it's tough to climb out of her shadow. On top of that, Garp goes through a series of tragic personal events that threaten to derail his career before it's really established. Despite these struggles, though, Garp manages to become the thing he always wanted to be—a real writer. So yay.

Questions About Literature and Writing

  1. What is the difference between "imagined" and "autobiographical" writing to Garp? Does this differentiation hold up for you? Is there anything hypocritical about Garp's claim when applied to his own writing?
  2. What makes Jenny and Garp different as writers? Get detailed, yo.
  3. What does Jillsy Sloper mean when she talks about "truth" in writing?
  4. What does the novel have to say about the nature of books for the masses? Use examples, please.

Chew on This

The novel argues that "remembered" fiction is worse than "imagined" fiction, despite the many autobiographical details that Irving uses in the novel.

The novel firmly argues that the classic novel is superior to postmodern or experimental fiction.