Thoroughly leading up until the climactic ending in A Prayer For Owen Meany, John Irving explains to his readers just how important it is to Owen Meany to fulfill his duties and obligations to God. Like a hobbit traveling to Mt. Doom in Mordor, he is determined and dedicated more than anyone in the novel to achieve his goals, despite his responsibilities and, what should be, his major concerns in his life.
Owen completely envelopes himself in the fact that he is an instrument used by God, and doesn’t even stop to think to realize and remember his loved ones, whom are Hester, his love struck girlfriend, and John, his best friend who has been with him through thick and thin ever since they were children. It is bittersweet, I suppose, about the choices he ultimately ends up making until the end.
On one hand he will miss out on the opportunities he can easily obtain through attending Harvard and making a life for himself with his most important people by his side (Hester and John); on the other hand, however, by choosing to follow God’s calling for his life, he will conclusively act upon the happening that impacts the ending of the novel altogether. Owen, as one finds out throughout the novel, is excessively brilliant, surpassing the intelligence of other people his age by far.
Tabitha Wheelwright acknowledges this special gift in Owen insisting that he attend Gravesend Academy, where his brilliance be put to good use. It turns out that it was, for Owen ends up being the best student at the Academy, which almost guarantees him the ability to attend Harvard to now receive the best college education possible, but certain setbacks keep him from doing so. His careless mistake of getting caught making fake IDs for other students opens the door for the principle to seize at the opportunity to expel Owen, which severely hurts his chances to get into any worthwhile colleges.
But with this, Owen understands that his purpose must lie elsewhere, because nothing happens for no reason. Even before this incident occurs, he knows his death will be undeniable for it is a part of God’s plan for him, and that “the shot” is involved in this future incident. Owen’s responsibilities to his education is nothing, however, compared to the conflicting feelings Hester and John feel about Owen’s prophecies and predictions about his death. “Owen knows that he must sacrifice his life to save others, both physically and spiritually (Rosefeldt, 1).
Following this, he joins the army to go to Vietnam in an attempt to seal his fate as he believes God wants him to do. Hester practically resents Owen for his stubbornness in doing this, placing that as more important, his passion, in front of her, his implied “responsibility. ” After his death, Hester becomes a hard rock sex icon in the music world in a ways to cope, and John completely unaware how he will now live his life, for Owen was always such a compass in his life, that he feels helpless without him.
Owen’s obsession with his passion has completely blinded him to the fact that his responsibilities, the ones that care about him the most, need him the most, but even with them he puts his God given goals first, as always. Lastly, toward the end of the novel, Owen’s only, and I mean that literally, thing on his mind, is fulfilling his purpose, which he ends up doing in the chapter “the shot” where he sacrifices himself, as Jesus Christ did for the world, for the sake of the Vietnamese orphan children. “When Owen Meany said ‘READY? ’ I figured we had about two seconds left to live.
But he soared far above my arms-when I lifted him, he soared even higher than usual; he wasn’t taking any chances. He went straight up, never turning to face me, and instead of merely dropping the grenade and leaving it on the window ledge, he caught hold of the ledge with both hands, pinning the grenade against the ledge and trapping it there safely with his hands and forearms. He wanted to be sure that the grenade couldn’t roll off the ledge and fall back in the room (Irving, 623-624). ” Here Owen proves the symbolism for the concept of sacrifice, and just how much of a Christ-like figure he is, practically mirroring Christ’s life.
From the mysterious secret revealed that Owen is actually from a virgin birth, to the sacrifice he makes for the sake of others, this mirror image is quite apparent. From the start Owen knew he would become a hero for those in need of one, and his lifelong passion for it is finally is proved to be worthwhile in the final chapter. Owen Meany has to be one of the most admirable characters in any novel ever written by the fact that once he sets his mind to something, there is absolutely no changing it by any means. Regardless of his loved ones, he new this is what he had to do, and did not want to disrupt God’s plans that He had for him. He knew being a sacrifice as well as a hero to others was his fate, and he learned long ago fate is not something to be messed with. This also reveals just how similar God and Owen are to each other, and how each other’s lives are identical in almost all means- they are selfless, and just want to prove to others, as well as themselves, that their purpose on this earth is put too tremendous use, despite the clashes with the outcome of their responsibilities.
Courtney from Study Moose
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