Essay on Owen Meany

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Essay On: “A Prayer For Owen Meany”

In the novel “A Prayer For Owen Meany,” John Irving creates the character of Owen as a foil to John, the protagonist. Owen Meany embodies the qualities of a true leader while John grows more like his father: doubtful and lost.
     In the beginning of the novel, immediately there is a clear difference between Owen and Johnny. There is the field of academics; Owen is the head of his class while he helps John not to fail in his studies. There is Owen, very sure of his belief system and Johnny, very doubtful and unsure about his beliefs or feelings towards’ god.
     Throughout the novel, John has a constant hero worship of Owen. An example of this is
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When Owen follows his mission and goes to the army, John is left without a sense of direction. With Owen gone, he has no one to tell him what his next move will consist of. He ends up going into graduate school because he fears the day when he actually has to make a decision about what he will do for the rest of his life. Technically he does make a decision for the rest of his life by going to school for a degree in English, but I see this as the easy way out. Owen has no hesitation when it comes to his future and his decision-making: “Owen Meany got his scholarship to the University of New Hampshire; he signed up for the ROTC…” This certainty could also stem from Owen’s strong relationship with god. He is gods instrument, making every action meaningful, making every move count. John has a weak relationship with god and is left doubting the existence of a higher power and a purpose for himself. The productivity deck is stacked in Owens favor because John has to play his own game; he is not just a chess piece being directed by God. He has no idea if his next day will be his last or if his next decision will matter in the least, where as Owen just follows his road map to the date on his grave.
     There is a Motif in this book that pertains to Casualties in Vietnam. Through John we see the crippling effects of the War in Vietnam on citizens across America. We see his indecision for the direction of the rest of his life.
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