The story chronicles the life of T. S. Garp (Robin Williams), the illegitimate son of a feminist mother, Jenny Fields (Glenn Close). Jenny wanted a child but not a husband. A nurse during World War II, she encounters a dying ball turret gunner known only as Technical Sergeant Garp who was severely brain damaged in combat.
Unconstrained by convention and driven by practicality and her desire for a child, Jenny uses Garp’s sexual response to impregnate herself, and names the resultant son after him. Jenny raises young Garp alone.
Garp grows up, becoming interested in wrestling and writing fiction, topics his mother has little interest in. However, his writing piques the interest of the daughter of the school’s wrestling coach, Helen Holm (Mary Beth Hurt). She is wary of him, however, because Garp is quite promiscuous at school.
Jenny also observes Garp’s behavior in this regard and is intellectually curious about it, having little more than clinical interest in sex herself. She offers to procure a prostitute for Garp, and — after engaging the two of them in conversation on the subject — decides to write a book on her observations of lust and human sexuality.
Although John Irving’s wacky universe is much more detailed in his wonderful novel, this movie captures the essence of his warm messages. The performances, particularly John Lithgow and Glenn Close (film premiere! ), are excellent. You may not be prepared for the topsy-turvy world according to Garp, but if you stay with it, it will stay with you for a long time after. Hits the right balance of humor and sorrow in every major scene.
Director: George Roy Hill
Year of Release: 1982
Character to watch: Robin Williams as T. S. Garp.
Journal your answers to the following questions after you watch the movie.
- How does this particular character’s journey compare with yours?
- Did the character develop certain characteristics during the movie that you have or that you would like to have? If so, what are those characteristics?
- What obstacles did this character face? What was his or her biggest challenge?
- What would you have done differently if you had been in the same position as the character?
- Is this character the type of person you would be friends with? Why or why not?