The World According to Garp is often billed as a coming-of-age novel, but in fact spans T.S. Garp's entire life, beginning with his unconventional conception by his feminist mother, Jenny Fields, and his father, a brain-damaged, dying World War II fighter plane gunner. Much of the novel does focus on his upbringing by his mother, a nurse who later becomes a controversial feminist writer & icon. Jenny's influence is evident in every aspect of the novel; she pushed him to join a wrestling team against his wishes, which leads him to meet his future wife, Helen. Jenny's wishes to pursue writing coincide with Garp's own similar desires, and Jenny even pays a hooker whom she interviews to sleep with her son. Her relationship and influence with her son have far-reaching implications in the novel. Much of the plot also hinges around Garp's marriage with Helen, and the impacts of the decisions each spouse makes.
This report prepared by Shelley Livaudais