Owen Meany Essay

Owen Meany - Expectations v. Reality

Often times, people can make wrong assumptions based off first impressions. In John Irving's A Prayer for Owen Meany, a friendship with one-of-a-kind Owen Meany changes the main character John Wheelwright's life forever. Unbelievably small with an unusually high-pitched voice, Owen is the complete opposite of what people might assume. Owen has a huge personality despite his miniature size and often controls situations, broadcasting his ideas and opinions. Owen becomes a huge influence in John's life and the two remain best friends even after Owen accidentally kills John's mother during a baseball game. Having an undeniably concrete belief in fate, Owen devotes his life to God after foreseeing his own death. Owen's prophecy becomes true when he saves a group of Vietnamese children from a violent sociopath; after his death, John is devastated and never quite satisfied with his life, personal identity, or faith. Thomas Hardy alludes to the fact that nothing is what it originally seems when he states, "Nothing bears out in practice what it promises incipiently". Hardy's quote correlates to John's search for identity, John's search for religious faith, and America's search for values in politics.

In his quest to discover his identity, John is eventually let down due to his naïve assumption that finding his father will lead him to feel complete. For much of John's early life, the identity of his father is an intangible mystery to him. He confides in Owen after experiencing lascivious feelings for his maid and later reminisces about the reassurance Owen gives him: "Lust, he would later say, was God's way of helping me identify who my father was; in lust I had

been conceived, in lust I would discover my father," (258). When John's father's identity is finally revealed to him, John describes, "The wholly anticlimactic, unsatisfying, and disagreeable news that Rev. Lewis Merrill was my father... is just one example of the...