The World According to Garp Themes

This Study Guide consists of approximately 69 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of The World According to Garp.
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Gender Roles

Irving's novel examines the significance of gender roles in American society. Jenny's independence as a woman is frowned upon by both her family and society in general. Young women usually didn't live alone in the 1940s. For example, it is immediately assumed that Jenny has some relationship to the soldier she stabs in the movie theater. Jenny resents the idea that a woman has to be "either somebody's wife or somebody's whore." In fact, Jenny exhibits some traditionally masculine traits: she is strong, plainspoken, and willful. This is demonstrated when her lack of a husband doesn't prevent her from getting pregnant. Her refusal to allow society to pigeonhole her because of her gender stirs great controversy and ultimately leads to her assassination. Alternately, Jenny's son Garp reverses gender roles. Garp, although he is very masculine, assumes the traditionally female role of domestic caretaker. Helen works while Garp...

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This section contains 803 words
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Buy The World According to Garp Study Guide
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The World According to Garp from Novels for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.