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

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.

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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.

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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.

Updated: Feb 02, 2024
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John Irving’s Portrayal of Owen’s Character as Depicted in the Book, A Prayer for Owen Meany. (2024, Feb 09). Retrieved from

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