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A Prayer for Owen Meany

A Prayer for Owen Meany

by John Irving

Analysis: Allusions

When authors refer to other great works, people, and events, it’s usually not accidental. Put on your super-sleuth hat and figure out why.

Biblical and Religious References

  • The Bible (1.1, 3.150.)
  • The Book of Common Prayer (1.1)
  • Jeremiah 1:5 (2.454)
  • The Letter of St. Paul to the Galatians (2.458)
  • John Calvin, French theologian (3.66)
  • "Crown Him with Many Crowns" (3.235, 9.378)
  • Psalm 37 (3.335, 9.256)
  • St. Joseph (4.16)
  • The Virgin Mary (4.16)
  • Luke 23:34 (4.23)
  • Mary Magdalene (6.83)
  • Judas Iscariot (6.143)
  • Pontius Pilate (6.143)
  • St. Peter (6.143)
  • The Gospel According to Matthew (6.145)
  • Isaiah 5:20 (7.437)
  • C.S. Lewis, Reflections on the Psalms (9.323)
  • John 11:25 (9.330)
  • The Gospel According to Mark (9.368)
  • The Burial of the Dead, Rite II (9.584)

Literary and Philosophical References

  • W. Somerset Maugham, The Constant Wife (3.99)
  • Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol (4.9)
  • William Shakespeare, King Lear (4.244, 5.278)
  • Charles Dickens (4.252)
  • Dracula , a film based on the novel by Bram Stoker (5.14)
  • Emily Bronte, Wuthering Heights (5.284, 9.85)
  • Mark Twain, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (5.284)
  • Mark Twain, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (5.284)
  • William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar (6.177, 8.610)
  • Thomas Hardy, Tess of the d'Urbervilles (6.299)
  • Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina (6.310)
  • Jack Kerouac (6.314)
  • Allen Ginsberg (6.314)
  • Graham Greene, The Power and the Glory (6.314)
  • James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (6.314)
  • Pär Lagerkvist, Barabbas (6.314)
  • Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov (6.314)
  • Jean-Paul Sartre (6.314)
  • Albert Camus (6.314)
  • Søren Kierkegaard (6.314)
  • F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby (6.395)
  • Robert Frost, "Nothing Gold can Stay" (6.427)
  • Robert Frost, " Fire and Ice " (6.427)
  • Robert Frost, " Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening " (6.427)
  • Robert Frost, " Birches " (6.427)
  • Robert Frost, "The Gift Outright" (6.473)
  • Arthur Miller, playwright (8.107)
  • Lawrence Durell, The Alexandria Quartet
  • Robertson Davies, Canadian novelist, playwright, and journalist (8.270)
  • Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., American historian and social critic (8.563)
  • Ford Madox Ford, Parade's End (8.604)
  • Thomas Hardy, "Hap" (8.739)
  • Samuel Taylor Coleridge, " Rime of the Ancient Mariner " (9.73)
  • Thomas Hardy, Jude the Obscure (9.74)
  • Euripides, Classical Greek tragedian (9.77)
  • Euripides, The Medea (9.77)
  • Euripides, The Trojan Women (9.77)
  • Mordecai Richler, The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz (9.87)
  • William Shakespeare, Hamlet (9.90)
  • Fyodor Dostoevsky, Crime and Punishment (9.90)
  • Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice (9.114)
  • Margaret Atwood, Surfacing (9.117)
  • Günter Grass, Cat and Mouse (9.117)
  • Alice Munro (9.119)
  • Robertson Davies, Tempest-Tost (9.130)
  • Robertson Davies, Fifth Business (9.130)
  • George Orwell, Burmese Days (9.133)
  • George Orwell, Animal Farm (9.133)
  • George Orwell, 1984 (9.133)
  • Eldridge Cleaver, Soul on Ice (9.154)
  • Selections from the Writings of St. Thomas Aquinas (9.162)
  • Robertson Davies, "The Ghost Who Vanished By Degrees" (9.258)
  • Timothy Findley, Famous Last Words (9.262)
  • Thomas Hardy, The Mayor of Casterbridge (9.262)
  • Anthony Trollope, Barchester Towers (9.264)
  • Alice Munro, "The Moons of Jupiter" (9.268)

Musical References

  • Frederic Chopin (6.22)
  • Claude Debussy (6.22)
  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (6.22)
  • Johannes Brahms, "O Welt ich muss dich lassen" (6.142)
  • Frederic Handel, Messiah (9.352)

Historical References

  • John Wheelwright, Founder of Exeter, New Hampshire (1.26)
  • John Adams, second President of the United States (1.26)
  • George Meany, American labor leader (1.27)
  • Oliver Cromwell, English military and political leader (1.30)
  • Anne Hutchinson (1.31)
  • John Smith (1.43)
  • Pocahontas (1.43)
  • Ronald Reagan, 40th President of the United States (2.478, 6.423, 7.201)
  • John F. Kennedy (a.k.a. JFK), 35th President of the United States (2.480, 6.469, 7.269)
  • Ngo Dinh Diem, first President of South Vietnam (2.485)
  • Ngo Dinh Nhu, younger brother of and chief political advisor to Ngo Dinh Diem (2.485)
  • Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr., American politician and former U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam (2.487)
  • Lyndon B. Johnson (a.k.a. LBJ), 35th President of the United States (2.490)
  • General William Childs Westmoreland, commander in the Vietnam War (2.500, 7.446)
  • Robert F. Kennedy (also referred to as "RFK" and "Bobby"), civil rights activist, Senator from New York, Presidential candidate, and younger brother of JFK (2.505, 7.286, 8.175-176)
  • Richard Nixon, 37th President of the United States (2.505, 5.202)
  • Lt. William Laws Calley, convicted American war criminal (2.506)
  • Abbie Hoffman, co-founder of the Youth International Party (2.507)
  • Jimmy Carter, 39th President of the United States (5.205)
  • Dwight D. Eisenhower, 34th President of the United States (6.10)
  • Gary Hart, former Senator from Colorado and U.S. Presidential candidate (6.423)
  • King Fahd of Saudi Arabia (6.436)
  • Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 32nd President of the United States (7.200)
  • General Chiang Kai-shek (7.200)
  • Nancy Reagan, former First Lady of the United States (7.257)
  • Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Former First Lady of the United States (7.295, 8.175)
  • Robert McNamara, former Secretary of Defense (7.307)
  • Oliver North, U.S. Marine Corps Officer (7.446)
  • Melvin Laird, former Secretary of Defense (7.446)
  • General Creighton Abrams, former Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army (7.446)
  • General Maxwell Taylor (7.446)
  • General Curtis LeMay (7.446)
  • Ellsworth Bunker, former U.S. Ambassador to South Vietnam (7.446)
  • Barry Goldwater, former U.S. Senator from Arizona and Presidential candidate (8.261)
  • Nikita Khrushchev, First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (8.261)
  • Leonid Brezhnev, General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (8.261)
  • Alexei Kosygin, former Soviet statesman (8.261)
  • Pierre Elliott Trudeau, Fifteenth Prime Minister of Canada (8.292)
  • Benjamin Harrison, 23rd President of the United States (8.609)
  • William Henry Harrison, 9th President of the United States (8.609)
  • Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (9.154)
  • Senator Joseph McCarthy (9.205)
  • Hubert Humphrey (9.205)

Pop Culture References

  • Angel Street (3.25)
  • Gaslight (3.25)
  • Ingrid Bergman, Swedish actress (3.25)
  • Charles Boyer, French actor (3.25)
  • Angela Lansbury, English actress (3.29)
  • Joseph Cotten, American actor (3.30)
  • Frank Sinatra, singer (6.4)
  • Tommy Dorsey, American jazz bandleader (6.4)
  • Frank Sinatra, "I'll be Seeing You" (6.4)
  • Frank Sinatra, ""Fools Rush In" (6.4)
  • Frank Sinatra, "I Haven't Time to Be a Millionaire" (6.4)
  • Frank Sinatra, "It's a Lovely Day Tomorrow" (6.4)
  • Frank Sinatra, "All This and Heaven, Too" (6.4)
  • Frank Sinatra, "Do You Keep Your Heart?" (6.5)
  • Frank Sinatra, "Trade Winds" (6.5)
  • Frank Sinatra, "The Call of the Canyon" (6.5)
  • Frank Sinatra, "Too Romantic" (6.5)
  • Tarzan (6.12-13)
  • Liberace, American entertainer and pianist (6.23)
  • Boy George (6.25)
  • Elton John (6.25)
  • "Mack the Knife" (6.25)
  • Appointment with Danger, a 1951 film (6.50)
  • Jack Webb, an American actor (6.52)
  • Dragnet, a 1950s TV crime drama (6.52)
  • Captain Blood, a 1935 film (6.71)
  • Errol Flynn, an Australian-American actor (6.71)
  • Olivia de Havilland, American actress (6.71)
  • It Happens Every Spring, a 1949 film (6.73)
  • Treasure of the Golden Condor, a 1953 film (6.79)
  • Cornel Wilde, Actor (6.79)
  • Drum Beat, a 1954 Film (6.79)
  • Alan Ladd, American actor (6.79)
  • Audrey Dalton, actress (6.79)
  • The Robe, a 1953 film (6.80)
  • Jean Simmons, an English actress (6.80)
  • Richard Burton, an English actor (6.81)
  • Cecil B. DeMille, legendary American film director (6.93)
  • The Ten Commandments, a 1956 film (6.93)
  • Charlton Heston, an American actor (6.93, 6.196)
  • Yul Brynner, a Russian actor (6.94)
  • John Derek, actor (6.94)
  • Edward G. Robinson, actor (6.94)
  • Bette Davis, actress (6.98)
  • Dark Victory, a 1939 film (6.98)
  • George Brent, actor (6.100)
  • Humphrey Bogart, actor (6.102)
  • Fred Astaire, dancer, singer and actor (6.141)
  • Audrey Hepburn, actress (6.141)
  • Funny Face, a 1957 film (6.141)
  • Ben-Hur, a 1959 film
  • Marilyn Monroe (7.269, 8.107, 8.176)
  • Joe DiMaggio (8.107)
  • Gordon Lightfoot (8.305)
  • Neil Young (8.305)
  • Joni Mitchell (8.305)
  • Ian and Sylvia (8.305)
  • Bob Dylan (8.305)
  • Joan Baez (8.305)
  • Ian Tyson, "Four Strong Winds" (8.305)
  • Betty Grable, actress (8.497)
  • Moon over Miami, a 1941 film (8.497)
  • Carole Landis, American actress (8.502)
  • Don Ameche, American actor (8.502)
  • John Wayne, American actor (8.556)
  • Esther Williams, competitive swimmer and movie star (8.556)
  • Operation Pacific, a 1951 film (8.556)
  • Sherlock Holmes in Terror by Night, a 1946 mystery film (8.563)
  • Basil Rathbone, a British actor (8.563)
  • The Beatles (9.3)
  • Hank Bauer, Major League Baseball player (9.106)
  • The Today Show (9.110)
  • Simon and Garfunkel, "Mrs. Robinson" (9.154)
  • The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms, a 1953 film (9.426)
  • Mother is a Freshman, a 1949 film (9.426)
  • Loretta Young, an American actress (9.426)
  • An American in Paris (9.426)
  • Gene Kelly, an American actor (9.426)
  • "When You Wish Upon a Star" (9.433)

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