Wednesday, April 2, 2008

"A Prayer for Owen Meany" by John Irving

In the beginning of the chapter “The Finger”, Irving builds up the significance of the symbol with war statistics and updated casualties. Owen tries out for the army but is denied. More deaths had tolled at the end of the chapter, “7,000 Americans had been killed” (503). Then the narrator receives a draft letter in 1967. Because the narrator does not want to go to Vietnam, he must make a choice. Either he must injure himself or run off so the government cannot find him, or go to Vietnam. Owen cuts off the narrator’s finger so he will not pass the physical and would not be sent to Vietnam. All it took was “a little courage” (506), which Owen instilled in him.

The significance of the finger is that sacrifice may lead to a more rewarding outcome. The narrator puts his faith in Owen and because of it, he does not have to go to Vietnam. Owen represents a Christ-like figure, which is also shown when he plays baby Jesus in the play. “The Finger” signifies trust and faith in which John has in Owen. Owen saves John’s life.

In the chapter, “The Shot”, the title signifies the ultimate sacrifice Owen makes, his life. Irving builds up this event by depicting Own as a Christ-like figure throughout the book. Just as Jesus died and suffered on the cross to save the lives of Christians, so they would not be dammed to hell, Owen also makes a sacrifice to save the lives of others.

When in the play, the teacher chooses Owen to be baby Jesus. Although she chose him because of his babe like size, this also has significant meaning, that Owen is a Christ-like figure. Also, when John visits the Meany’s, he learns of Owen’s conception. Mr. Meany tells John that Owen was conceived, “like the Christ child” (536), meaning Owen was born to a virgin mother. This here also signifies Owen’s Christ representation throughout the book. Owen possesses Rev. Merril. During the possession Reverend Merril admits to John that he is his father. Owen shows truth to John, even in death.

The last pages of the book reveal how Owen died. “The Shot” represents the move him and john would do while playing basketball. The fatal “shot” saved the lives of everyone in that bathroom. “The Shot” shows Owen was an instrument of God. His whole life led up to that one moment of ultimate sacrifice. He saved John, the children, and the nuns. He instilled faith in many that day, just as Christ instilled faith in Christians. John believes Owen did have a purpose while at the funeral. If Owen wasn’t born a dwarf, John never would have been able to lift him up. His dwarfism made him “easy to lift up” (616). His purpose on the earth was to save the lives of many, and instill faith in those who believe they have no purpose. Though Owen was severely handicap by his dwarfism, it also allowed him to save many lives. He was a “miracle” (616). The title “The Shot” signifies the one shot he had to make a difference, his whole life, his dwarfism, all led up to that one moment of true sacrifice.

1 comment:

Emily R 6 said...

I posted this comment because I really liked this book. It was sad but really inspirational. I thought I effectively wrote this essay as well.