A Prayer for Owen Meany (146-306) by John Irving
Option #1 – Point of View Analysis
Instead of John going to his cousins’ house, he stays in Gravesend for the winter break after the death of his mother. John and Owen play Joseph and the baby Jesus, respectively, in the church’s Christmas pageant, and at the performance, it is full of mishaps, including Owen yelling at his parents to leave the church in the middle of the pageant. Owen additionally stars as the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come in Dan’s production of A Christmas Carol, and recieves great reviews from the local critics. However, while suffering a fever and a bad cold, Owen points to the papier-mâché gravestone during the performance, screams excruciatingly loudly and faints, claiming that he foresaw his own death because he “saw” his own name on the grave. As Owen and John become older and get their driver’s licenses, they often go to beaches to look at women, and John realizes that Owen is surprisingly somewhat attractive to women because he is always “in command” of the situation at hand. While he is at Gravesend Academy, Owen begins to write passionate essays for the school newspaper, and he therefore becomes famous among his schoolmates and earns the nickname “The Voice.” Owen becomes deeply interested in making a slam-dunk with the help of someone to lift him up, and he feels that his slam-dunk has some special purpose in his life. Writing from the future, John rants about Ronald Reagan/the current political climate in the United States and about how immoral many US politicians are.
The first person point of view present in A Prayer for Owen Meany helps readers see characters develop throughout the novel better than a third person perspective would. John Wheelwright is the narrator of the story and tells it from his home in Toronto in 1987. Through using a first person perspective and writing the book in a similar fashion to a diary, readers are more immersed in the story and understand John’s thoughts and his perspective better. Readers can see the intricacies of John’s life and can view his adolescence from his perspective, allowing them to see what he thought were important moments in his childhood development. One of John’s mentionable parts of his growing up is when he is forced to go to the Gravesend Academy psychiatrist because he is a slow learner. Grown-up John immediately follows up this pointless session with his intellectual criticism of the current US president: “A pity that Americans do not bring their moral outrage to bear on their president’s arrogance above the law; a pity that they do not unleash their moral zest on an administration that runs guns to terrorists” (306). Adult John including this analysis right after him being perceived as stupid shows the contrast between his younger self in Gravesend and his older self in Toronto. It additionally shows how easy it is for readers to understand the development of John and why certain stories were included in the text. However, if the novel was written from a third person perspective, it would be harder for people to grasp the importance of certain incidents. Additionally, the first person point of view helps readers see the development of Owen alongside John, and John’s thoughts regarding everything Owen does. For example, when Owen wants John to lift him up and help him practice making a slam dunk, John thinks it is stupid because Owen used to get infuriated when he lifted Owen up as a younger kid; having access to John’s true thoughts allow readers to relate more to John and understand why he thinks what he thinks. If A Prayer for Owen Meany was written in the perspective of third person (either omniscient or limited, readers would not feel as attached to the book and its characters. Therefore, the first person point of view in the novel helps readers connect to characters and understand them better.