Roberta Muldoon is a secondary character in the novel The World According to Garp by John Irving.
Roberta was the former Robert Muldoon, a tight end for the Philadelphia Eagles. She was known for her "quick hands" and strength during her American football career. She is six-foot-four and weighs 180 pounds, though she was 235 while playing football.
Roberta is a close friend of T.S. Garp and his mother, Jenny Fields. She had sex reassignment surgery after reading Jenny's book, A Sexual Suspect, which prompted her to contact Jenny.
As Jenny brings Roberta along to visit Garp, Garp and Roberta become very good friends.
One of Roberta's favorite games is squash, which she plays frequently with Garp. There are mentions of lovers in the novel and trips to the talk show circuit.
Not all of Roberta's life has improved from the surgery: Roberta receives hate mail from football fans for her choice. One fan letter remarks that Roberta gets "gang-raped by the Oakland Raiders".
Fans of the Eagles switch teams and other tight end players change positions in order to avoid transsexual stigma. There is also controversy surrounding her employment on the television networks as a sports announcer. Networks agreed not to hire her even though she has full football knowledge. Roberta rarely pays attention to the drama, though, and allows Garp to look at her letters more than she does.
Throughout the book, there is mention of a difficulty for Roberta to remain feminine all the time. At one point, she checks a man named Randy to the ground, hurting his knee when he attempt to charge Jenny. Later, she becomes a mother figure to younger transwoman, one of whom marries Garp's son.
The film version of the novel placed John Lithgow in the role of Roberta Muldoon. He was nominated for Best Supporting Actor at the Academy Awards. He did win Best Supporting Actor from the New York Film Critics Circle Awards and the Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards for the role.
- The World According to Garp: Reading Group Guides
- The World According to Garp at the Internet Movie Database
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