Experiences And A Prayer For Owen Meany English Literature Essay

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The human condition incorporates the entirety of the experience of being human. These experiences cause people react to or cope with emotions and events in their everyday lives. One common response is to question the riddle of life: why we are the way we are, why we act the way we do, where do we come from, where do we go, what it is to be human. Yet no one has found the solution to the problem. Life is of a complex nature where some things just can't be solved. However, some people believe there is an answer to everything or at least want there to be. They are separated from the answer they want so humans have resorted to creating their own beliefs so that they feel more comfortable in life because not knowing the reason to something so sacred can be a very scary ordeal. In the book A Prayer for Owen Meany and the movie V for Vendetta, the creators have you question life as it is.

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A Prayer for Owen Meany is about a boy named John Wheelwright and his friend Owen Meany who grew up together in a small town in New England. In the novel John relates to how Owen Meany changed his life for both good and bad. "I am doomed to remember a boy with a wrecked voice-not because of his voice, or because he was the smallest person I ever knew, or even because he was the instrument of my mother's death, but because he is the reason I believe in god." John has always been a man of religion but changes religions many times because he wants to find an answer to all the tragedies that have filled his life, effectively dismembering him. John's biggest struggle is to determine his religious faith with his skepticism and disbelief. He needs the answer to this question until Owen Meany reveals it. From this event you may question your own faith; is everything predestined or is everything you do your own free will.

Owen Meany, a boy with disabilities, was always disadvantaged in sports because of his size. He liked baseball but could barely hold a bat because of its weight. One day, instead of getting his usual free walk to first base, he swung and hit a foul ball that travelled into the stands. The ball killed John's Mother who wasn't paying attention at the time. Owen Meany was horrified by the event.

When John's mother died, Owen gave him his most prized possessions as a way to make up for the loss of his mother. John returned the belongings and gave Owen his cherished stuffed armadillo as a symbol of love and forgiveness. Owen returned the armadillo, but first removed its claws. Owen reasoned that "GOD HAS TAKEN YOUR MOTHER. MY HANDS WERE THE INSTRUMENT. GOD HAS TAKEN MY HANDS. I AM GOD'S INSTRUMENT." The literal dismemberment of the claws resembled Owen's figurative dismemberment of God taking his hands. Owen believed that what happened was God's intention.

Throughout the book Owen has supernatural visions and dreams of angels which he thinks are linked to his purpose in life. He even has a vision and learns how and when he will die. John doesn't know what to think of Owen's visions at first.

After Owen dies, John reveals Owen's death. Owen's job in the military is to return dead bodies to their families. Owen is detained in Phoenix because of a mix-up with one of the soldier's bodies. Owen calls John to meet up with him so John flies out to do so. The day that the two meet is a few days away of the date that Owen foresaw his death unbeknownst to John. Owen, knowing how soon his destiny is, is confused by the location because it is not what he envisioned. He thought that his fate would be to save Vietnamese children. The two end up spending a few days together. The day John was supposed to leave was the day of that Owen thinks he is going to die. Owen escorts john to the airport. While they wait, Owen sees a group of people getting off a plane: several nuns escorting a group of Vietnamese war orphans. One of the nuns asks Owen to take the Vietnamese boys to the bathroom so the two do so. Suddenly, Dick Jarvits appears with a grenade. Dick throws the grenade into the bathroom, and John catches it. Earlier in John's and Owen's life, they had practiced a basketball shot together called "The Shot". Just like the old days, Owen jumps into the air. John tosses him the grenade, lifts him up just as they would for "The Shot", and Owen puts the grenade in the window, holding it there with his arms, hanging from the ledge. The grenade goes off taking Owen's arms with it. Owen quickly bleeds to death and John's eardrums are blown out. Dick is then killed by Major Rawls.

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Owen dies almost exactly how he envisioned it. What john thought was nonsense turned out to be either a complete coincidence or a miracle depending what you believe. John personally believes it was Owen's fate. Owen's voice had to be high, so the children would not be frightened of it; Owen had to be small, so that the children would trust him; and his visions gave him his will. From this, John fulfills his dismemberment and becomes a true believer of God.

The book revealed the meaning of Owen's life and both Owen and John fulfill their understanding of life. Irving's point in this story is to make you think about life. He proposes that what happened can be either God's work or just a coincidence and lets you choose for yourself. Irving is able to provide this through the symbolism of dismemberments. In the book there are many symbols, including when Owen removes the statue of Mary Magdalene and places it in the academy hall, John's mother's dressmakers dummy, the Watahantowet's totem, Owen himself and more. These dismemberments suggest numerous meanings including the defenselessness of people against the unfairness of fate; the pain caused by that unfairness; the loss of loved relations or possessions; and the surrender of the individual to God. Even though Irving allows you to choose what to believe in the story, he seems to suggest that people find strength to survive and even triumph over challenges though God.

Throughout the book you are allowed to choose whether everything happened for a purpose or it all happened by chance. This book suggests that life is based on fate and the belief in a higher rule.

Mr. Howes:  I have made some suggestions to the first two paragraphs re: clarifying your hypothesis.  You need to conclude that second paragraph (re: Owen revealing the truth to John) with a statement re: determinism vs free will or one re: faith and the reality of modern existence to focus your paper.  (I gather these two thematic ideas from the rest of your draft). 

Your two paragraphs summarizing Tabby's death, and Owen's response are good.  But when you move on to Owen's death, you lack detail.  Do not assume that I have read the book.  Be very specific.  And be sure you decide on a focus.  Are these losses (dismemberments) God-induced suffering for a purpose, or simply chance "life sucks and then you die")?  If so, what is the effect on us as human beings, using John as an example?  Be sure you focus each paragraph to making your point. 

John had grown up without knowing who his father was and the only person who knew was his mother. Due to his mother's death, John was kept from the truth. The day of her death, John saw his mother wave to someone who he reasoned to be his father.