-re-imagined book cover print for A Prayer for Owen Meany
SparkNotes: A Prayer for Owen Meany
PARGRAPH When the boys are old enough, they enter Gravesend Academy, where Owen thrives: he has a powerful column called "THE VOICE" in the school paper, and easily becomes the class valedictorian. Shortly before graduation, however, he is expelled for helping students make fake IDs out of their draft cards--it is the early 1960s, and the Vietnam War is just beginning. After his expulsion, Owen removes a statue of Mary Magdalene from its place in front of a local Catholic school, amputates its arms and head, and welds it to the stage in the Gravesend Academy auditorium. The school minister, the doubt-plagued Rev. Louis Merrill, asks the boys at morning meeting to pray for Owen Meany, and the unpleasant headmaster who expelled Owen loses his job as a result of the event.
A Prayer for Owen Meany - Shmoop
The narrator of ''A Prayer for Owen Meany'' is another John Wheelwright, also a descendant, but a good deal of a conscious and unapologetic wimp. Although he had half of his right forefinger amputated by Owen Meany so he could stay out of the Vietnam War (more about this later), out of disgust with his native land he emigrated to Toronto, where he teaches English literature in an Anglican academy for young ladies. (He has abandoned his ancestral Congregationalism for the Episcopal Church in America, the Anglican Church in Canada, and his constant companion is the Book of Common Prayer.) The book is as discursive as an undergraduate bull session, and the plot, simplicity itself, raises as many questions as stories of miracles usually do. Owen Meany, the little saint (the scene in which he is left hanging on a coat hook also suggests a ''Christ figure''), is unrecognized by all in the school town except his straight man and adoring disciple, the narrator John Wheelwright. Strange occurrences: Owen ''accidentally'' kills the narrator's mother (more about this later), and not only feels no guilt but manages to persuade the son that it was all foreseen (which means desired) by God. Since the narrator is illegitimate, her death seems necessary to our comprehending the inner perfection of a woman outwardly ''immoral.'' Strange occurrences: Owen foresees the exact day of his death as a martyr. His ''inside'' knowledge convinces him that he is God's messenger. Because he is so odd-looking and odd-sounding, he acts out the necessary paradox on earth suitable to men altogether holy within, though he can drink beer to excess and sleeps with the one girl in town unconventional enough to appreciate his stern disapproval of contemporary goings-on. Owen foresees everything in his life; in the startling climax he achieves martyrdom in the most exemplary way. But will this be really understood and appreciated by this damned generation?