A Prayer for Owen Meany Essay

A Prayer for Owen Meany Essay

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A Prayer for Owen Meany

Not the least of my problems is that I can hardly even imagine what kind of an experience a genuine, self-authenticating religious experience would be. Without somehow destroying me in the process, how could God reveal himself in a way that would leave no room for doubt? If there were no room for doubt, there would be no room for me.-
Frederick Buechner

In the novel, A Prayer for Owen Meany, by John Irving, Owen Meany’s belief of predestination makes a significant impact on John Wheelwright’s emotional stability as an adult. John Wheelwright is unhealthily bitter and angry about his past experiences because he clings to a past that never lets him choose. This bitterness fuels his repugnance towards the United States and the Reagan administration, because he understands that everything is in fact predestined just as Owen Meany had believed and he feels helpless because there is nothing he can do to change the course of events in life. The death and responsibility of John’s mother’s death fell into the hands of Owen Meany and John can never accept that it was Owen’s fate to kill John’s mother. The Vietnam War was completely out of John’s hands to control being a young adult and all, and the fact that eventually the war indirectly took the life of his best friend, for this he feels helplessly responsible and angry. Into adulthood, John becomes bitter towards the United States and its catastrophic news because he knows it is all destined to happen, and like everything else in his life, he has no control or power to change anything.

The death of John’s mother, Tabitha Wheelwright, was out of John’s control and the job is predestined to be executed by Owen. Her death falls into Owen’s hands because as he believes one night after an atrocious fever, that he had interrupted the Angel of Death. Because of this, the task was then placed on him so that he would be the one to kill Tabitha Wheelwright.

In Owen’s opinion, he had INTERUPTED AN ANGEL, he had DISTURBED AN ANGEL AT WORK, he had UPSET THE SCHEME OF THINGS.- The Angel, pg. 102

Owen convinced himself that the reason he was used to kill John’s mom is because he is an “instrument of God” and that God had taken away Owen’s hands because he is helplessly under the control of destiny. Tabitha Wheelwright died for a reason, and through God, it was predestined to happen by Ow...


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... poem … I know: you believe in God, but I believe in ‘Crass Casualty’—in chance, in luck. That’s what I mean. You see? What good does it do to make whatever decision you’re talking about? What good does courage do—when what happens next is up for grabs?- The Finger, pg. 504

John’s confusion in destiny stems from the fact that he believes that anything is possible in life and that it is not one big blueprint of the world. Owen Meany never gave John the chance to decide for himself in what he believed in because Owen disproved John’s belief by confirming to John that life is destiny.

John Wheelwright in A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving is a depressed and bitter man who leads a solitary life in the confinements of his past because he has been so traumatized by catastrophic events in his life that he cannot bring himself to move forward. He is bitter about the future because he accepts that everything in life is predestined and he feels angry because he has no control of what the future brings. As destiny has it, he has no control over the death of his mother, the indirect death of his best friend caused by the Vietnam War, and the current to future issues facing the world.

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