The Character and Psyche of Owen Meany Essay

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John Irving begins his novel with one of the most iconic introductory lines in modern literature; introducing a character who is a great source of pain and anguish, yet the ultimate source behind the narrator’s belief in God (Irving 3). In this paradoxical sentiment the theme of the book born, what follows it is a journey that is different from any other. John Wheelwright, the narrator, tells a story of his best friend Owen Meany and what effect he has had on John’s own life, while concurrently interjecting the plot with information about the occurrence in the world around him and how it relates back to Owen. Through the uses of sporadic but continuous plot development John Irving develops a self acclaimed Christ-like character whose …show more content…
This qualifies him then to fall under the hero archetype (Guerin), of course, he is an atypical hero, with one of his most heroic actions being that of severing his best friend’s finger off with a diamond edged granite saw (Background). His growth into the position of hero is an integral part of the plot and the ultimate catalyst for his undertaking of his quest. Owen did not start out as the perfect hero; in fact, Irving takes a very typical road and develops Owen’s character through series of events that lead up to his taking of his place as the Christ-figure hero (Guerin). Owen starts out as a coward – albeit a coward who refuses to act like one. For instance, he pees his pants when his female cousin is in the same closet as him (Peterson). He is also the source of both the main sorrows of the novel, his own death, and the death of Tabitha Wheelwright, acting as the exact opposite of a hero. He undergoes a metaphorical rebirth to mature into the Christ Hero; who gets his arms blown of by throwing grenade out a window to save some Vietnamese children. The catalyst for this rebirth is paradoxical in that is actually a vision of said rebirth; in the form of Owen’s vision and subsequent dreams about the circumstances surrounding his death. Irving does this to fulfill the other part of the hero archetype, by giving

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