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"The World Accordng To Garp" By John Irving.

1183 words - 5 pages

Jenna HeckerFreshman Comp, HoffnerResearch Paper5/6/03Feminism, Ellen James, and The World According to Garp"I begin with an admission: Regardless of all political and economic theories, treating of various fundamental groups within the human race, regardless of class and race distinctions, regardless of all artificial boundary lines between woman's and man's rights, I hold their is a point may meet and grow into one perfect whole" wrote Emma Goldman in "The Tragedy of the Woman's Emancipation". Goldman's powerful words summed up the missed part of the vision of Irving's picture of activists in "The World According to Garp" the feminists of Irving's world were not looking for harmony between the sexes, and therefore can not generalize by calling themselves feminists.In The World According to Garp, by John Irving, Jenny is, to the fictional movement of Garp, a more contemporary version of Alice Paul, the leader of the National Woman's party. Like the Ellen Jamesians, the National Woman's party were a small, militant group that not only lobbied but conducted marches, political boycotts, picketing of the White House, and civil disobedience. National Woman's movement members were known to starve themselves in support of equality. The key difference though, between actual women's rights leaders and Jenny though is that Jenny did not fight for anything. Jenny lived her life as she saw fit, and simply did not bend to her society. Jenny wanted to have a baby without a man, so she had one. Jenny was living for herself and her interests, which is not what the women's movement is about. Alice Paul's movement was not a quiet, passive one like Jenny's. Jenny's book was written about herself, and her personal struggle. It served as inspiration for women, but it did not call them to action, they mobilized themselves. The actual women's movement leaders mobilized other women to action.After 5 weeks in prison, Alice Paul was set free. The attempts to stop the picketers had backfired. Newspapers carried stories about the jail terms and forced feedings of the suffragists. The stories angered many Americans and created more support than ever for the suffrage amendment. Irving's The World According to Garp can not be called an anti-feminist novel because the feminists in the book, the Ellen Jamesians, do not act like feminists. The Ellen Jamesians are radical. The silence of the tongue-less Ellen Jamesians is meant to speak loudly to the world, however their mutilation eventually ended up being an embarrassment to the members of the movement. Without a cause a movement is nothing. To "share the pain of Ellen James" is not a cause.. Ellen James suffered, she stated herself she just wants to move on, to remove ones tongue in order to share in suffering is counter-productive. This is where the Ellen Jamesians go wrong- they have good intentions for the most part, but the fictional women's movement can't prosper because, unlike the real-life women's movement, it is...

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