You and your best friend live a normal life in Gravesend, New Hampshire, although your best friend has a squeakier voice than you and is much shorter. Your favorite sport is baseball, until one day you are at your baseball game as your best friend is up to bat, who rarely ever gets on base, hits the ball so strong. Your mother, who is not paying attention to what seemed to be a foul ball, does not know that the ball is heading towards her and it strikes her right in her left temple. Tragically, she is instantly killed and your life seems to be turned upside down.
In A Prayer for Owen Meany, Owen Meany makes the statement to all that he meets, that he is God’s instrument which he feels is demonstrated in his unpredictable swing. After he kills Tabitha, Johnny’s mother, he says, “GOD HAS TAKEN YOUR MOTHER. MY HANDS WERE THE INSTRUMENT. GOD HAS TAKEN MY HANDS. I AM GOD’S INSTRUMENT” (Irving 102). The unlikely friendship between two very different characters, in background, appearance, and perspectives led to a lesson in positivity. The confidence and the strong belief in God that Owen Meany possessed helped Johnny discover his own journey to believing in God.
Owen Meany was known as a caring, kind spirited person who would never harm anyone no matter how horribly they may have treated him. During the Vietnam War, Owen chose to save everyone even to putting his own life at risk. He feels that he was put on Earth to save lives and make a difference in the world. Owen felt that his purpose in life was to be a hero no matter who he was saving. Major Rawls, Owen’s military contact in Phoenix tells Owen that not everyone is worth saving especially when there is a war occurring. Owen responds saying, “IT’S NOT UP TO YOU OR ME, SIR-IT’S NOT UP TO US: WHO’S BEYOND SAVING” (Irving 611).
Major Rawls realizes that Owen was too good for this world, he is too nice to live in the cruel world we live in. Owen’s existence changed many people’s lives for the better. One of the most influential would be the impact he had on his best friend, Johnny. Owen told Johnny that God would tell him when the time was right who was his father. When Owen heard who his father was, it was alarming to him when it was through the voice of Owen Meany. While reading the first page of the story, Johnny Wheelwright said “he is the reason I believe in God; I am a Christian because of Owen Meany” (Irving 1).
Johnny and Owen had a close friendship as they both valued each other. When the boys were ready to start the college process, Owen did not want to leave Johnny. Owen earned scholarships from Yale and Harvard, but he chose the attend the University of New Hampshire. In the novel, Owen said “BESIDES I WANT TO GO TO THE UNIVERSITY OF NEW HAMPSHIRE- I WANT TO STICK WITH YOU, I WANT TO GO WHERE YOU GO” (Irving 417). Owen had always helped Johnny complete school work and kept him motivated. He was not ready to stop doing that when they went to college. Owen did not have the greatest upbringing.
He lacked strong, supportive parents, but never let that bring him down. Mrs. Meany barely ever left their home and whenever Johnny was around she did not talk much at all. Mr. Meany was always busy with their granite company that he hardly ever had time to see Owen. Every year Johnny and Owen participated in their church’s Christmas pageant. One year Johnny got the part of Joseph and Owen was played baby Jesus. During the middle of the pageant, Owen noticed that his parents had made an appearance which upset him very much because they do not usually come to his events.
Owen’s reaction was not positive, he immediately screamed, “WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’RE DOING HERE? ” (Irving 224). He shouted this as soon as he noticed his parents arrival in the congregation. Everyone was confused when “baby Jesus” sat up in the middle of the pageant and screamed at what was believed to be the entire congregation, but was in fact the Meanys. Owen’s parents were embarrassed and his dad responded to him saying that he had only wanted to see him, as they departed the church.
On Christmas Eve, Johnny had accompanied Pastor Merrill in bringing Owen home after performing “A Christmas Carol. Johnny finally started to feel sorry for Owen and realized his family situation when upon arriving at their home there was not a single light on and his parents had not waited up for him. It made Johnny feel sad that Owen would be alone on Christmas Eve. Johnny’s mother, Tabby, always looked after Owen and cared for him before she passed away. Even after, Johnny’s grandmother was like a mentor to him, they bonded over their share of Liberace and old movies. Johnny’s grandmother also may be the reason for his attendance at the Gravesend Academy. Owen refused to go there because he knew it would be too expensive for his family.
Johnny’s mother would tell him that he would get a scholarship for the tuition, he would complain about not having the proper clothing for the school. Finally Irving wrote on page 270, “I’m going to take you shopping myself Grandmother told him. “You let me worry about what it will cost. Nobody needs to know what it costs. ” The Wheelwrights always welcomed Owen like he was a part of their family. He was not only Johnny’s friend, but became an important member of their family. Dan Needham, Johnny’s stepfather not only treated Johnny like his own son, but also Owen.
Owen had gotten in trouble at Gravesend Academy, but did not get along with the headmaster. He wanted Owen to be kicked out of the school, even though that was not fair to him. Dan stood up for Owen when Randy White, the headmaster, was talking badly about Owen. He told him, “You’re such a kid yourself, you let Owen Meany get to you. Because a kid took a dislike to you, you decided to pay him back-that’s just the way a kid thinks! ” (Irving 415). He then continued to tell him that Owen “is a boy who’s going to go to college on a scholarship, too-or else he won’t go.
If Owen Meany doesn’t get the best deal possible, from the best college aroundyou’re responsible for that, too! ” (Irving 415). Dan knew the kind of kid Owen Meany was and the struggles he faced on a daily basis. Owen Meany was not your typical boy. He did not look or sound “normal. ” He was tiny and his vocal cords were not fully developed. When Owen sat on his chair during school his legs did not go anywhere near the floor. He “was so small that only did his feet not touch the floor when he sat in his chair-his knees did not extend to the edge of his seat; therefore, his legs stuck out straight, like the legs of a doll” (Irving 1).
Owen may have looked different, but he did not let that deter him from everyday activities. Even though he sometimes was teased he did not let that stop him. Although Owen Meany was small, his voice could be recognized anywhere. He spoke like a young child with a squeaky voice. When Owen was helping the Vietnamese children the only way to get them to listen was when he started speaking because they felt more comfortable hearing a voice that sounded similar to their own. “.. it was his voice that compelled the children to listen to him- it was a voice like their voices.
That was why they trusted him, why they listened” (Irving 635). Despite Owen Meany’s size and voice, he was very outspoken and opinionated. Owen always felt that he was right and instead of holding back from speaking his mind he gave his opinion. Therefore, his mouth sometimes got him into trouble and in situations he could not escape. “He preached relentlessly against the establishment and occasionally violates laws. The establishment in turn demonizes Owen, calling him irrelevant and anti-religious.
He becomes unpopular with many and is believed to be a tool of the Devil by some” (Haynes, Stephen R. ). Some people found it difficult to get along with Owen because of his strong opinions and beliefs. He did not always cooperate with everyone and listen to opposing viewpoints. Owen and Johnny had an ideal friendship that I believe anyone would want to share with someone. Owen always got on Johnny’s case about doing his homework and getting good grades. “YOU’RE BOREDOM IS YOUR PROBLEM,’ said Owen Meany.
‘IT’S YOUR LACK OF IMAGINATION THAT BORES YOU. HARDY HAS THE WORLD FIGURED OUT. TESS IS DOOMED/FATE HAS IT IN FOR HER. SHE’S A VICTIM” (Irving 327). Johnny would be lost without a companion like Owen, he was lazy and did not enjoy doing his school work. Owen yelled at him for not reading his book on time because of his laziness and his dislike towards reading. Owen told him it was because he had no imagination. It is another example that Owen would say anything and not think of the reaction of others. The positive attitude Owen Meany displays in A Prayer for Owen Meany, is something any reader can take away from reading the book.
The unlikely friendship between two very different characters develops into a lesson of believing in the positive of life’s events. The confidence and strong belief in God that Owen Meany possessed helped Johnny discover his own journey to believing in God. Despite Owen’s upbringing, physical characteristics, and circumstances, his commitment to what believes is his purpose dictated by God gives not only Johnny, but those that meet him a true lesson in the spirit of God. A Prayer for Owen Meany makes the reader question their faith, beliefs, and their own personal relationship with God.