A Prayer for Owen Meany

A Prayer For Owen Meany By John Wheelwright

February 11, 2021 by Essay Writer

In A Prayer for Owen Meany, John Wheelwright reflects on all the impactful memories he experienced throughout his childhood, highlighting the ones he shared with his best friend Owen Meany. During the course of this novel these characters enter a transition from childhood to adulthood, losing their innocence and gaining a sense of maturity through the events they are forced to endure. They are seen in a period of growth, overcoming the obstacles of adolescence, puberty, loss, discovering where they belong and who they should be. This coming-of-age novel depicts John Wheelwright’s journey into becoming the best and better version of himself as he conquers the challenges of life.

A Prayer for Owen Meany ticks off all the boxes to be considered a coming-of-age novel. It follows John Wheelwright along in life from being a child to a full grown adult. He is thrust into this rollercoaster at an early age, particularly due to the killing of his mother, Tabby Wheelwright. A mother is the one lifeline a character can hold onto and allow themselves to be a child, no matter how grown a person is they will always be a baby in the mother’s eyes. John was stripped of this before his teenage years which was the first factor that forced him to grow up, to lose the light in his eyes far earlier than the children his age. He was forced to endure the tragedies of life most experience in their middle ages. The first sign of his maturity is shown when he doesn’t hold a grudge against Owen for his mother’s death, an act many would not take. “God knows, Owen gave me more than he ever took from me – even when you consider that he took my mother”. Having Owen as a friend was a kickstart in John’s spiritual journey, the bond they shared helped him have faith and a connection with God. He was able to withstand tragedies rather than escalating them and he didn’t blame Meany for his mother’s death. Instead he was emotionally mature enough to cope with the turn of events and allowed his friendship with Owen to strengthen as a result.

John Wheelwright reached a higher level of emotional and spiritual maturity than many of the children his age due to his friendship with Owen and the way his life turned before his teenage years, yet he struggled to mature sexually. Physically, he turned out like any other ordinary boy going through puberty, it was his mental approach that suffered a setback. At a young age, Wheelwright crushed on his cousin Hester Eastman and engaged in conversations with Owen regarding his mother’s physical body. “…the game called “Last One Through the House of Hester”; maybe they realized, later, that I began to intentionally lose the game”. Even later, during the first Christmas Eve without his mother, he develops lustrous feelings for one of the maids in his home. His sexuality was damaged after the events of his mother and when Hester didn’t reciprocate his feelings for her. Wheelwright believes any bodily desires that sprung upon him were the results of his father’s “evil” that was passed onto him. This proves he took more time to sexually mature as he blamed his lustrous feelings on his absent father rather than come to terms that it was his body’s natural urges during puberty.

The reason for John’s spiritual maturity rests solely on Owen Meany’s shoulders. Meany was the cause of the rise and questioning of his faith in God, along with many of the other characters in the novel. Wheelwright is proven to have gained a better sense of spiritual maturity throughout the book because he gains the courage to face the truth regarding himself and his past. In the midst of the novel he shows a burning interest in finding his father in a hope it’ll answer his questions from his mother to his unexplained lustrous thoughts. In contrast to the beginning, where he appeared frustrated with Meany’s attempts of saying God used him as an instrument to Tabitha’s death, he accepts it near the ending. He eventually did believe God played a part when He created Owen Meany, claiming his voice was high-pitched and his height short so he wouldn’t appear intimidating but rather safe to the Vietnamese children he would in time save.

John Irving wrote A Prayer for Owen Meany with the intent of it being perceived as a coming-of-age novel as highlighted by the recurring themes of emotional, sexual, and spiritual development. Through the audience’s eyes, John Wheelwright is faced with obstacle after obstacle that chips at his innocence until there is nothing left. He is forced to grow up at a rapid pace following the events after his mother’s death and finally nears the end of his adolescence when he loses the last lifeline to his childhood, Owen Meany. Every tragedy that occurs gives Wheelwright a new lesson to be learned in life, which he takes in stride and uses to become the best version of himself.

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My Story in Religion and My Thoughts in a Prayer For Owen Meany

February 11, 2021 by Essay Writer

I was born in a very religious family. My grandparents were christians, as well as my parents. My father was not so close to religion as my mother. My mother took me to the church sometimes when I was little. I didn’t like it at the time, it felt like it lasted an eternity at the time. But things changed, we stopped going to church. I don’t know if we stopped because of lack of time or because my parents just didn’t want to go anymore. The years were passing, I was seeing my family fighting with each other, and getting crazy with religion. That happened frequently, and for years, I thought the cause for all of that was specifically religion, and I just wanted to get far from it.

One year ago, my parents announced that I would study in Contra Costa Christian School, in America. At first, I was scared of what was going to happen next, I had no idea of how it was going to be like, but my parents told me to be open to that experience, even though I didn’t like religion at all.

When I finally went to the school itself, I got very impressed, people were very friendly and kind, but it was still too soon to get any opinion on religion. My first experiences in the school with christianity were not bad, but I was still very confused. The months were passing, and the Spiritual Retreat came. When some people told their stories in the chapel, I changed my way of seeing religion, it was not a bad thing for me anymore. After the Spiritual Retreat, some people were still telling their stories in religion, and that kept getting me a better view over religion.

Today, I believe I’m a Christian, I believe in God’s words, follow them, and I still want to spread it to other people. I want to show people that passed through the same situation as me, curing them from blindness. I passed from a non-believer, and a hater, to a follower of God, and think many people passed or are passing through the same situation. I know this school will still change me a lot.

A Prayer for Owen Meany has characters that reflect a lot about religion, and it makes you think very deeply about communities, your relationship with God, and how you communicate with him.

Owen is the most reflexive character, and he questions the Christians communities a lot. He refers to them as unnecessary and stupid, because they don’t go through prayers and the bible the way he goes, and that pisses him off. That makes me think about church communities a lot, if I’m in the right one, if they follow a solid and good flow, and if they really care about what they’re claiming and praying for. It is a very complicated and delicate theme to talk about.

A Prayer for Owen Meany, even not being a completely religious book, it makes us reflect deeply about our religion choice, and how we should share our beliefs with others.

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Irving’s Owen Meany: Protagonist’s Intelligence in Prayer

February 11, 2021 by Essay Writer

In A Prayer For Owen Meany by John Irving, Owen possesses an extraordinary amount of intelligence at a young age. After soaring through high school, besides the hiccup of his expulsion, he continues life with a career in the military to fulfil God’s plan. Despite all of the changes in his life, Owen never loses his remarkable literary love and comprehension, and helps Johnny confront his most difficult task yet- the dreaded Master’s thesis.

Owen Meany excelled in all school subjects, and had a bright, young, motivated mind. He especially made use of these talents in high school English class to show remarkable understanding of difficult texts and to aid Johnny in the improvement of his below-average intelligence. Even though Owen does not pursue a career utilizing his above-average language abilities, he still makes use of it “ ‘ TO BEGIN, YOU SIMPLY TAKE ONE OF HIS BLUNT OBSERVATIONS AND PUT IT TOGETHER WITH ONE OF HIS MORE LITERARY OBSERVATIONS–YOU KNOW, ABOUT THE CRAFT LIKE THIS ONE: ‘A STORY MUST BE EXCEPTIONAL ENOUGH TO JUSTIFY ITS TELLING. WE STORYTELLERS ARE ALL ANCIENT MARINERS, AND NONE OF US IS JUSTIFIED IN STOPPING WEDDING GUESTS, UNLESS HE HAS SOMETHING MORE UNUSUAL TO RELATE THAN THE ORDINARY EXPERIENCES OF EVERY AVERAGE MAN AND WOMAN’ ’ ” (Irving 519). Irving alludes to “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” which furthers Owen’s continued attachment to his extraordinary literary knowledge and understanding. Additionally, this reference exemplifies Owen’s dedication to Johnny. Throughout their school years, when Johnny struggles, especially in English class, Owen was always around to bail him out. Owen never turned down a situation in which he could help his best friend, especially one involving a subject in which his knowledge was quite mature and extensive.

Through the employment of allusion in this novel, Irving conveys the hardships Owen encounters, but also his courage to endure difficult situations. This also serves to compares the story that plagues the Mariner’s life to the experience of Owen’s own life. The Mariner embarks on a treacherous sea journey along the way encountering Death and trying to avoid it while contrastingly, Owen confronts life ready and willing to face death. In a manner more similar to the Mariner, Johnny also faces a rough sea and just only sticks around for the journey out of pressure and necessity. Furthermore both the Mariner and Johnny reveal their seemingly woeful tales to anyone who may lend an ear to listen, no matter how unsuspecting or innocent. This allusion also reinforces the role Johnny plays in this novel. Johnny is similar to the Mariner in that he is timid, and just happens upon unfortunate circumstances with no control in his life whatsoever. They then both choose to share their peculiar tales as storytellers. The parallels and contrasts of Johnny and the Mariner give a deeper, intellectual connection to the overall story, just like Owen Meany

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John Irving’s Portrayal of Owen’s Character as Depicted in the Book, a Prayer for Owen Meany

February 11, 2021 by Essay Writer

In A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving, puny Owen tortured by his Sunday school mates has a sincere love for life. Even though in many ways he was disadvantaged, in his short stature, nasally voice, and family’s unfortunate economic situation, he still seeks out the positive aspects and loves with all of his tiny heart.

Despite the lack of opportunities for Owen to excel in, he finds love in the game of baseball even with the fact that he is not very skilled at it “Yet Owen loved his baseball cards-and, for some reason, he clearly loved the game of baseball itself, although the game was cruel to him” (Irving 4). The bats are almost too large for this pint-sized boy to swing, he can’t catch or throw, and most of the time he isn’t allowed to bat, but that doesn’t stop him. The personification of the game, giving it such a quality as cruel, exemplifies the extent of Owen’s love and his strong beliefs. Similar to the baseball, the kids in sunday school also torment. Owen Meany, against his will is lifted above the heads of his fellow sunday school mates and passed around when left unsupervised. In the midst of such an antagonizing game he often gets tickled, but even then he never tattles. In both cases, his love outweigh the negative side effects while his intelligence enables him to thrive in these particularly difficult situations.

Through the use of personification, Irving emphasizes Owen’s faith in the doctrine of predestination and the inherent goodness of people. This reinforces his God-like qualities which he utilizes to see the good in every situation no matter how seemingly dreary. By seeing himself as an instrument of God, Owen is able to justify the unfortunate circumstances which lead to the untimely death of Johnny’s mom. The personification is also indicative of all of the negativity Owen is forced to deal with. Clearly the God that Owen follows isn’t going out of his way to make life easier, but with faith he manages to get through all of the curve balls life throws his way. An outsider in not only the town, but also his family, he is often left to fend for himself as a young boy. In addition, because of the failing Meany Granite Quarry, Owen finds himself unable to afford on his own the education that such an intellectual as he deserves, at Gravesend Academy. Owen doesn’t fit in and while dealing with that crisis and a sinking lifeboat of the family business, he is forced to cope with his act as God’s instrument of murder. Yet through all of the lamentable cases in his life, he discovered Owen takes the idea that everything happens for a reason to a whole new extreme, but with such a strange boy nothing less than out of the ordinary can be expected.

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The Incidental Depiction of Jesus Christ by John Irving In, a Prayer for Owen Meany

February 11, 2021 by Essay Writer

A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving is full of symbols that help reveal information about the characters and themes in the novel. The most prominent symbol is Owen Meany.

Owen is directly and indirectly represented as Jesus throughout the novel. In a Christmas pageant of 1953 at his church, he is cast for the part of Baby Jesus. Owen receiving this role in the play serves as a direct correlation between Owen and Jesus. This is also this most obvious sign that Owen is meant to be a Christ-like figure. In the same year, Owen receives the role of The Ghost of Christmas Future in A Christmas Carol. During the last performance of this production, Owen sees a tombstone with his name and apparent date of death. Jesus was aware of when he was going to die, and now Owen is too. Another very straightforward connection between the two are the circumstances surrounding Owen’s birth. After Owen’s death, his parents admit to John in a conversation that Owen was not of natural birth; he was a miracle child. They tell John that Owen had been a virgin pregnancy, similar to that of Jesus.

There are also not so obvious implications that suggest that Owen is a Christ-like figure. Owen Meany is a religious individual who very much believes in fate. In fact, he believes that he has been chosen by God to ensure the fates of everyone else. Owen believed that he interrupted the Angel of Death from taking John’s mother, Tabitha, in her sleep, which is why he ended up being the one to kill her. Owen also makes John practice a basketball move he refers to as “The Shot” with him until it is perfect. He does this because he knows how he is going to die, and that this move will help him save others when the time comes. He believes that when he dies it will be beneficial to others and potentially even save them. Owen died saving others, and Jesus died for the sins of others; their deaths are eerily similar.

Owen stands out from his peers from the beginning of the novel. Even when he speaks it is written differently than when other characters speak. This is done to make Owen stand out as unusual; he is different than the others. Along with that, Owen appears to have this power over others that allows him to influence them. The separation between Owen and his peers serves as a representation of Owen as a higher power.

The most distinguished theme in A Prayer for Owen Meany is faith. Faith is on every page of the book from start to finish. Owen himself represents the very person whom faith revolves: Jesus Christ. He is like a preacher of religion to his peers, without legitimately being a preacher. His life, and life circumstances cause those around him to have faith. John states that he is only a believer in religion because of Owen Meany. John was able to see Owen develop into the Christ-like symbol that he is first hand. He saw and was involved with Owen’s sacrificial death, which causes him to make a decision about his own views on religion and faith.

Another main theme in the novel is family. Family tells the reader a lot of information about John and Owen as the story goes on. John is a Wheelwright, a well off family that can trace its origins back to the voyage of the Mayflower. John was born into a privileged life, but is still deprived of information that is vital to his existence. Owen tells John that God will one day help him find out the true identity of his father. John had hoped his mother would tell him the answer, but her fate was secured by Owen before she had the chance to. Owen’s parents are more in the background of his life than normal parents. He has the dominating position in his relationship with them. This is because he is meant to be further represented as a higher power.

The symbol of Owen Meany as a Christ-like figure in A Prayer for Owen Meany helps develop the themes faith and family throughout the novel. Owen’s miraculous life affects all the people he is close to. His status as a symbol of Jesus shines through in all aspects of his life and makes others have faith as well.

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The Link between Childhood and the Disposition of Hester in John Irving’s, a Prayer for Owen Meany

February 11, 2021 by Essay Writer

Views on Hester:

Choice of Diction Can Change Views

In the novel, A Prayer for Owen Meany, written by John Irving, characters such as Hester are described uniquely to show the audience that females can also have male attributes. Irving’s diction varies as he continues with the novel to portray Hester in a different way than usual. Although John Irving uses sexual details to describe the qualities of Hester, she is genuinely not sexual because she grew up with an environment that was made up of mostly males, wanted to act out of the ordinary, and did not want to be excluded from her family, which shows that Hester’s childhood played a major role in the development of her personality.

Hester grew up in an environment made up mostly of males, with two brothers leaving her as the sole female child. The author stated that, “The way they skim in water and on snow-and, late, the way they drove their cars-suggested to me that they thought nothing was dangerous. But Hester and I were dangerous” (60). Knowing that Hester loved hanging out with her brothers, she often participated in many different activities, such as skiing. The way they skied in any type of environment frightened Johnny because they were not afraid of experiencing thrilling and exciting adventures. In fact, they were injured so many times to the point where it became normal for them. Noah and Simon would log in the summer, which was a dangerous job if you were impatient. Johnny talked about his experience while working with his cousins, “Logging is the most dangerous if mosquitoes you’re impatient; saws and axes, peaveys and cant dogs – these tools belong in impatient hands.” (428). Wounds like these are common to Hester and her brothers because they usually play around like this.

Being the only girl in her family, Hester would want to act out of the ordinary in order to fit in with her brothers. In the book, A Prayer for Owen Meany, it states that Hester would pull on her brothers doink as a dare or to show that she is not ashamed to touch a male’s body part. In the novel it said, ‘You touch me, I’ll put your doink, Simon,’ said Hester.” (72) Unlike other girls that are girl and loves to go shopping, Hester isn’t ashamed of pulling her brother’s private part. Her brothers would use her gender against Hester to do all these weird sexual stuff. In order for Hester to act out of the ordinary Hester would join in on those pranks such as having to kiss her if they don’t reach the house before she does or when they were playing hide and seek with Owen; if Hester was able to find them, she would threaten to pull on their doinks. She grew up in a family where there are many active activities involved; with her being the only girl around many males she is most likely going to merge into the crowd. She is often view as having broad shoulders, being muscular, big bones, and was less attractive on her face, therefore she can be view as a tomboy because we would usually see women as slim, weak, and with curves. Hester breaks all of the standards in order to fit in with her brothers.

Growing up in a family where males usually dominate, women tends to be left out. Typically males usually are active, adventurous, muscular, leaders, strong, athletic, trickster, and work outside of the house, while females are usually calm, flexible, neat, weak, and a hard worker. Irving states that Hester does not fully these typically roles of being a female, “I would never describe my cousins as bullies; they were good-natured, rambunctious roughnecks and daredevils who genuinely wanted me to have fun-but fun in the north country was not what I was used to in my life with the women at 80 Front Street, Gravesend.” (52) Living in the country side most of the sports involve dangerous physically activities, such skiing up and down steep mountains and slopes. With Hester being the only girl in the family, she does not want to be the only one that is not participating in these supports. She would rather accompany her brothers on steep slopes and mountains than being stuck at home. As Johnny narrates, “My cousins raced each other down the slopes, cutting each other off, knocking each other down-and rarely restraining their routes of descent to marked trails.” (53) Racing down the steep slopes and mountains has become a daily route for Hester; she will race her brother down the steeps hills, cutting edges that does not follow the marked trails.

Even though Hester may act out of the ordinary and try to fit into her environment that she grew up in, she also has a girl side of her. She may look tough and masculine on the outside, but she is still a girl. According to the novel Hester still have some attributes for being a female, Her wariness mature her; she had always known how to dress-I think it ran in the family. In Hester’s case, she wore simple, expensive clothes-but more casually than the designer had intended, and the fit was never quite right; her body belonged in the jungle, covered only essentially, possibly with fur or grass. (292)

Hester will tag along with her brother’s joke in order to fit into her surroundings, but she also has a feminine side. Hester is not the person that loves to play pranks on people without caring; she also has a caring side towards her family members and her love one. Hester really cares about

Owen as she stated in the novel, ‘I’ll marry you, I’ll move to Arizona-I’ll go anywhere with you, Owen,’ Hester said” ‘I’ll even get pregnant-if you’d like that, Owen… I’ll give you babies!’ Hester cried.” ‘I’d do anything for you-you know that. But I won’t go to your funeral.” Hester really cared about Owen, she does not want him to go off into the army just to save the Vietnamese children. She would rather have him stay with her and have a family together.

Throughout the novel, Hester was being portray as a character that grew up in an environment full of males, act out of the ordinary, and did not want to be the outcast of her family, but she also had a feminine side. Hester show attributes towards being a female and a male. Even though she pulls pranks on Owen and Johnny with her brothers, she also has a caring side; she would not take the prank too far to hurt someone. She has an intelligent side because she came from the North country side, but she knows more about Gravesend Academy than Johnny and Owen.

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An examination of the cowardice of the character Johnny in A prayer for Owen Meany

February 11, 2021 by Essay Writer

In John Irving’s A Prayer for Owen Meany, protagonist Johnny experiences outward conformity while inwardly questioning throughout the duration of his entire life. An exemplar of cowardice, Johnny uses passive aggression and the voices of others to disguise his inability to take a stand. The tendency of Johnny to silently question while taking no action creates the trait of cowardice that dominates his character throughout the entirety of the novel.

It is said that “actions, not words, create change”. Johnny, although inwardly critical of the Vietnam War, not only took no actions to create a change, but was not even vocal or expressive about his feelings. In a time dominated by protests, rallies, and demonstrations, Johnny could not even bring himself to voice his distain for the war, expressing that “even when the Anglicans asked me what I thought of Prime Minister Pearson’s “old point of view”…. I actually said I agreed! Eve though- as I’ve admitted- I’d never met a harsh deserter, not one” (463). The generation of the Vietnam soldiers, upon return to America, worked to create an America that supported and listened to those who had, previously, not been listened to. Arizona Senator John McCain is just one example. McCain, unsatisfied with the war and the treatment of those who served, ran for office to combat these issues with more productive policy. Johnny never shared his opinion, let alone took action to combat the problems in society that he saw. Because Johnny was inwardly critical of the Vietnam War, but did not take any actions to create change, he was a coward.

Prior to the Vietnam War, Johnny conformed to agree with his classmates within the Academy, leaving the questioning to Owen and The Voice. “I did, or tried to do, everything Owen did” (287), said Johnny, dependent on Owen to be outspoken due to his inability to use language and speak well. As Johnny struggled throughout his educational career to succeed in English, reading, and writing, he was willing to give Owen the power to speak on his behalf. “The Voice was our voice; he championed our causes; he made us proud of ourselves in an atmosphere that belittled and intimidated us” (295). Johnny was dependent on Owen to vocally question events and standards, even though Johnny shared the same criticisms and questions Owen did about society. Johnny was too much of a coward and simply lacked the confidence and ability to say so. He settled for conformity, never voicing his true feelings. Thus, the inward criticism and outward conformity spurred from his dependence on Owen and struggle in English and made Johnny a coward.

Johnny is also a coward because he cared more about impressing people than standing up for his own beliefs. This standard led him to a life of inward criticism, and outward conformity. “I never actually said— to any of my Canadian friends— that I suspected these deserters were no more likely to become “public charges” than I was likely to become such a charge. By then, Canon Campbell has introduced me to old Teddybear Kilgore, who had hired me to teach at Bishop Strachan. We Wheelwrights have always benefited from our connections” (463). While working in a church and dedicating his life to teaching both English and the value of Christ, Johnny preaches morality and Christian superiority. However, this message conflicts with his actions as he inwardly criticized the war that represented the opposite of morality, while outwardly conforming in his words of support. Johnny placed more value on his societal status and networking abilities, thus hindering his ability to stand up for what is right, even if it means standing alone, leading to a lifetime of conformity.

Johnny’s interpretation of history and political issues showcases his cowardice. “When some of the Grace Church on-the Hill Anglicans asked me what I thought of Prime Minister Pearson’s “old point of view”— that the deserters (as opposed to the war resisters) were in a category of U.S. citizens to be discouraged form coming to Canada- I actually said I agreed! Even though- as I’ve admitted – I’d never met a harsh deserter, not one” (463). The “Church on-the Hill Anglicans” is a reference to John Winthrop’s speech, A City on a Hill, from the founding and settlement of Massachusetts Bay Colony. Winthrop said that “America was to be a City on a Hill”, a model of superiority and moral purity. The phrase was used by both Presidents Kennedy and Reagan in major speeches. Johnny does not hide his love for Kennedy and despise for Reagan; his views strongly reflect the environments in which he was in- the popular opinion of the Academy strongly favored Kennedy, while the views of Canada in his time there did not support Reagan because of America’s involvement in Vietnam. The fact that both men had the same outlook on America shows Johnny’s cowardice as he is unable to go against what is popular and accepted in his environment. Johnny is a product of his environment as he cherry picks who he will criticize and who he will admire, thrusting him into a cycle of outward conformity.

Over the course of his life, Johnny conformed to be like those surrounding him, while questioning society inwardly. A lifetime of silent protest and dependence on those around him to voice their opinions and teach him what to think caused him to be a coward and unable to form and voice his own opinions.

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Overcoming Temptations and Sin by Owen Meany

February 11, 2021 by Essay Writer

Owen Meany is a character who commands attention, not only because of his small stature and high-pitched voice, but also because of his blind and undying faith in God. Yet, even with his God-like qualities, Owen’s attraction to John’s mother, Tabitha, and cousin, Hester, continue to make Owen human, despite his belief that he is an instrument of God. In John Irving’s A Prayer for Owen Meany, the similarities between Tabitha and Hester represent Owen’s lifelong battle with temptation.

One major similarity between Tabitha and Hester is the fact that they are both important parts of John’s life. In some ways, they represent the underlying jealousy that Owen has for Johnny. Owen, although he has two parents, is not nearly as loved as Johnny is by his mother. Because of this, Owen is constantly craving the attention of Tabitha who mothers him the way he never is by his own parents. Owen’s selfishness when it comes to Tabitha is seen later on when he refuses to part with the dummy that had belonged to her before she died. Similarly, Owen also experiences jealousy towards Johnny’s relationship with his cousins, who he frequently visits at Sawyer Depot. This can be see in the lines, “Owen was extremely irritable regarding the time I spent with my cousins…I thought he was jealous” (60). Owen and Hester’s relationship later on continues to leave Johnny isolated, as Owen often spends the night at her apartment rather than with him. Owen’s selfishness when it comes to Tabitha and Hester represent a human side to him unlike his usual purity and almost god-like manor.

Aside from being major parts of Johnny’s life, the two women are also similar in that they are both very attractive. Tabitha is often described as beautiful which can be seen in the lines, “Tabby Wheelwright looked like a starlet—lush, whimsical, easy to talk into anything” (38). Owen himself admits to finding Johnny’s mother attractive on several occasions. Often compared to a feline, Tabitha is not only beautiful, but manipulative as well. While she never purposely manipulates other people, they seem to be almost mesmerized by her charm. Her subtle ability to control people can be seen in the lines, “She had such a sweet-tempered disposition, it was impossible to stay angry with her. She never appeared to be as assertive as she was” (15). In a way, Owen accidently killing her represented his attempt to escape from his temptation. However, this is never truly achieved because of his lust for Hester later on. Like Tabitha, Hester is also very attractive. Even at a young age, Hester seems to radiate a sense of sexuality that gives her the nickname “Hester the Molester.” She contrasts Owen in that unlike his unrelenting child-like appearance, she appears to be an overly mature girl even as a child. Both Johnny and Owen find her very attractive and both lust for her. Because she is so aware of the affect she has on men, she is able to manipulate others in a way that is reminiscent of Tabitha’s subtle manipulation. The two women continue to draw out the sexual desires in Owen throughout his life.

Another similarity between Hester and Tabitha is that they are both involved in a scandal. Johnny’s mother is often criticized for having a child before she is married. The fact that the father turns out to be Reverend Merrill represents an even bigger scandal in that it is as if Tabitha had seduced one of God’s workers. This can be seen again in the way Owen, who thinks of himself as an instrument of God, seemed to lust for her as well. His acknowledgement of her attractiveness is seen when he says, “Your mother is so sexy, I keep forgetting she’s anyone’s mother” (38). In one incident, Owen goes into Tabitha’s room and falls asleep in her bed, an action that represents his lust for her as well as her willingness to allow it. Although she remains a conservative and modest character throughout the novel, her scandalous past continues to come back up. Yet despite Tabitha’s illegitimate pregnancy, the most scandalous character of the novel is Hester. Even at a young age, she is suspected of having sexual encounters with many men, which can be seen when it is said, “Hester was in much need of rescuing from the wildness within her” (265). Later on when she and Owen are suspected of seeing each other, Johnny continues to wonder whether or not they ever sleep together.

The mystery and scandal that surround each woman represent the temptation that Owen continues to struggle with throughout his life. In A Prayer for Owen Meany, Owen’s struggle to remain sinless is often tempted by his lust for the characters of Tabitha and Hester. They help Irving to cast Owen’s battle with temptation in a particularly stark light, and to alert the reader to one of the most important complexities of the apparently principled Owen’s narrative.

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John Irvng’s Description of the Personality of Grandmother Wheelwright as Illustrated in His Book, A Prayer for Owen Meany

February 11, 2021 by Essay Writer

In John Irving’s A Prayer for Owen Meany, Harriet Wheelwright doesn’t act like a stereotypical grandmother. Not only does she continuously voice her opinions, but she’s also quick to judge anyone and everyone. Although not conventional, Johnny’s grandmother cares for him and Owen in her own special way through an interesting relationship even though it may seem condescending towards others.

Grandmother Wheelwright has a personality all her own. Just as older generations tend to do, she complains about the new technological developments and how life was much better in the olden days while still enjoying them “My grandmother observed that television was draining what scant life remained…‘clean out of them’; yet she instantly craved a TV of her own” (Irving 257). Irving uses the hypocritical divide within the gap between the older and younger generations to employ and draw attention to the irony. As a direct descendant of the Gravesend’s founders, she expects herself to maintain a certain level of status through her elegant clothing and demonstration of wealth- in this case being through the purchase of a television.

Harriet criticizes the up-and-coming television for its lifesucking qualities but all the while falls victim to the race of keeping up with the societal norms for her sky-high reputation.

Through the use of irony Irving extends the explanation of Harriet’s elevated status with the accompanying snobby attitude, and attributes of the older generations. Exemplified through her sharp, condescending tone and high-class way of life it is surprising that Harriet would succumb to such a petty fancy as a television. She epitomizes the idea of the elderly getting stuck in their ways. However, even for someone of her socioeconomic status, a new technological development proves difficult to resist. Life arrives at a point where people have to start changing with the times, and Harriet unintentionally finds herself in this stage. Also, the addition of the television set levels her with the general population of Gravesend, including Owen Meany. Not even the outlandish Harriet Wheelwright, with her lavish clothing and overzealous sentiments could overcome these cravings for a television. This shows that deep down, although not with prevalence, she shares qualities with the majority of Gravesend’s residents which enables her to truly connect with and relate to the economically disadvantaged Owen. This example of irony helps the reader to better understand the psyche of Harriet Wheelwright; suddenly, she doesn’t seem so cold and unfeeling anymore.

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The Cowardice of Popularity: Johnny’s Character

May 29, 2019 by Essay Writer

In John Irving’s A Prayer for Owen Meany, protagonist Johnny experiences outward conformity while inwardly questioning throughout the duration of his entire life. An exemplar of cowardice, Johnny uses passive aggression and the voices of others to disguise his inability to take a stand. The tendency of Johnny to silently question while taking no action creates the trait of cowardice that dominates his character throughout the entirety of the novel.

It is said that “actions, not words, create change”. Johnny, although inwardly critical of the Vietnam War, not only took no actions to create a change, but was not even vocal or expressive about his feelings. In a time dominated by protests, rallies, and demonstrations, Johnny could not even bring himself to voice his distain for the war, expressing that “even when the Anglicans asked me what I thought of Prime Minister Pearson’s “old point of view”…. I actually said I agreed! Eve though- as I’ve admitted- I’d never met a harsh deserter, not one” (463). The generation of the Vietnam soldiers, upon return to America, worked to create an America that supported and listened to those who had, previously, not been listened to. Arizona Senator John McCain is just one example. McCain, unsatisfied with the war and the treatment of those who served, ran for office to combat these issues with more productive policy. Johnny never shared his opinion, let alone took action to combat the problems in society that he saw. Because Johnny was inwardly critical of the Vietnam War, but did not take any actions to create change, he was a coward.

Prior to the Vietnam War, Johnny conformed to agree with his classmates within the Academy, leaving the questioning to Owen and The Voice. “I did, or tried to do, everything Owen did” (287), said Johnny, dependent on Owen to be outspoken due to his inability to use language and speak well. As Johnny struggled throughout his educational career to succeed in English, reading, and writing, he was willing to give Owen the power to speak on his behalf. “The Voice was our voice; he championed our causes; he made us proud of ourselves in an atmosphere that belittled and intimidated us” (295). Johnny was dependent on Owen to vocally question events and standards, even though Johnny shared the same criticisms and questions Owen did about society. Johnny was too much of a coward and simply lacked the confidence and ability to say so. He settled for conformity, never voicing his true feelings. Thus, the inward criticism and outward conformity spurred from his dependence on Owen and struggle in English and made Johnny a coward.

Johnny is also a coward because he cared more about impressing people than standing up for his own beliefs. This standard led him to a life of inward criticism, and outward conformity. “I never actually said— to any of my Canadian friends— that I suspected these deserters were no more likely to become “public charges” than I was likely to become such a charge. By then, Canon Campbell has introduced me to old Teddybear Kilgore, who had hired me to teach at Bishop Strachan. We Wheelwrights have always benefited from our connections” (463). While working in a church and dedicating his life to teaching both English and the value of Christ, Johnny preaches morality and Christian superiority. However, this message conflicts with his actions as he inwardly criticized the war that represented the opposite of morality, while outwardly conforming in his words of support. Johnny placed more value on his societal status and networking abilities, thus hindering his ability to stand up for what is right, even if it means standing alone, leading to a lifetime of conformity.

Johnny’s interpretation of history and political issues showcases his cowardice. “When some of the Grace Church on-the Hill Anglicans asked me what I thought of Prime Minister Pearson’s “old point of view”— that the deserters (as opposed to the war resisters) were in a category of U.S. citizens to be discouraged form coming to Canada- I actually said I agreed! Even though- as I’ve admitted – I’d never met a harsh deserter, not one” (463). The “Church on-the Hill Anglicans” is a reference to John Winthrop’s speech, A City on a Hill, from the founding and settlement of Massachusetts Bay Colony. Winthrop said that “America was to be a City on a Hill”, a model of superiority and moral purity. The phrase was used by both Presidents Kennedy and Reagan in major speeches. Johnny does not hide his love for Kennedy and despise for Reagan; his views strongly reflect the environments in which he was in- the popular opinion of the Academy strongly favored Kennedy, while the views of Canada in his time there did not support Reagan because of America’s involvement in Vietnam. The fact that both men had the same outlook on America shows Johnny’s cowardice as he is unable to go against what is popular and accepted in his environment. Johnny is a product of his environment as he cherry picks who he will criticize and who he will admire, thrusting him into a cycle of outward conformity.

Over the course of his life, Johnny conformed to be like those surrounding him, while questioning society inwardly. A lifetime of silent protest and dependence on those around him to voice their opinions and teach him what to think caused him to be a coward and unable to form and voice his own opinions.

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