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A Prayer for Owen Meany

A Prayer for Owen Meany


John Irving

 Table of Contents

A Prayer for Owen Meany Characters

Meet the Cast

Owen Meany

We've read a lot of books in our day, and we're sure that you have, too, but we think it's safe to say that we've never met any character quite like Owen Meany. Lots of things about Owen strike us...

John Wheelwright

When we first get to know our narrator, we know him as Johnny Wheelwright. He's a curious but quiet young boy who lives with his mother and grandmother, has no clue who his father is, and has an em...

Dan Needham

Dan Needham is one of those guys that you just can't help but like. We meet him for the first time when John is just six years old. He and Tabby meet on the Boston & Maine train line and insta...

Tabby Wheelwright

Tabby is John's mother. As far as we can tell, she's kind of a babe. Owen is a little bit in love with her from the get-go, but it isn't just Owen who thinks she's great. Everyone seems to love Tab...

Reverend Lewis Merrill

Rev. Lewis Merrill is the pastor of the Congregational Church in Gravesend. When we first meet him, we sort of feel like he's just another face in the crowd – yet another stock character who's th...

Hester Eastman

Hester is John's cousin and the third of the Eastman kids. She's just a kid when we first meet her – she's less than a year older than John and Owen – but even then she's especially aggressive....

Harriet Wheelwright

Harriet is Tabby's mother and John's grandmother. She is sort of your stereotypical old-school, old-money WASP. She is extremely dignified and seems to live her life according to what she perceives...

Mary Beth Baird

Mary Beth Baird gets to play the Virgin Mary during the Christ Church Christmas Pageant. She is the kind of girl that people don't notice very much. She comes back at the end of the novel when she...

Ginger Brinker-Smith

Ginger Brinker-Smith is married to Mr. Brinker-Smith, one of the teachers at Gravesend Academy. She inspires a lot of Owen and Johnny's curiosities about sex. This is never so apparent as when she...

Mr. Brinker-Smith

Mr. Brinker-Smith is one of the teachers at Gravesend Academy. He's British; he's also married to Ginger Brinker-Smith and is the father of twins. He and his wife have a really active love life and...

Canon Campbell

Canon Campbell is in charge of Grace Church on-the-Hill, the Anglican church that John starts attending when he moves to Canada. John sees Canon Campbell as a friend and trusted mentor.

Mr. Chickering

Mr. Chickering coaches Johnny and Owen in little league. On the day that Tabby dies, Mr. Chickering switches up the batting order so that Owen goes up to bat. Since they're going to lose anyway, Mr...

Harold Crosby

Harold Crosby is a chubby, shy kid with whom Johnny and Owen participate in the Christ Church Christmas Pageant in 1953. In a pretty comical scene, Harold unwittingly volunteers for the part of the...

Maureen Early

Maureen Early is Mr. Early's daughter. John tries to hook up with her at one point. She is particularly memorable for peeing in her pants during the production of A Christmas Carol.

Mr. Early

Mr. Early is a teacher at Gravesend Academy. He is a frequent actor in the plays put on by Dan Needham and the Gravesend Players. He is also the faculty advisor to The Grave when Owen writes his re...

Aunt Martha Eastman

Aunt Martha is Johnny's aunt and Tabby's sister. She lives in Sawyer Depot with her husband Alfred and their three kids, Simon, Noah, and Hester. She is really supportive of Johnny when Tabby dies....

Uncle Alfred Eastman

Uncle Alfred is Aunt Martha's husband. He runs a lumberyard in northern New Hampshire. He seems to be kind of the strong, solid type. He's also what we call a flat character – he never really cha...

Simon Eastman

Simon is one of Aunt Martha's sons and John's cousins. He's Hester's brother. He and his brother Noah are both pretty aggressive and sort of terrify John when he's a kid.

Noah Eastman

Noah is one of John's cousins. Like his brother Simon, Noah is really into roughhousing and provides John's otherwise quiet home life with that added zing of fear and excitement.


Ethel is the new maid at 80 Front Street. She replaces Lydia after Lydia has her leg amputated. Lydia and Harriet have a tendency to gang up on her.

Mr. Fish

Mr. Fish is the Wheelwright's next-door neighbor at 80 Front Street. He's not married, nor does he have any children to speak of. He enjoys playing catch with Johnny and Owen.  He's constantly...


Germaine is one of the maids at 80 Front Street. Harriet Wheelwright hires her to take care of Lydia after Lydia has her leg amputated.

Mr. Giordano

Mr. Giordano owns Jerrod's, a fancy store on Newbury Street in Boston where Tabby bought her red dress. He assures John and Owen that, in spite of what Tabby may have said about the store, it never...

Harry Hoyt

Harry Hoyt is on Johnny and Owen's little league team. He is one of the last people to go up to bat before Owen does on the day that Tabby is killed. Later in life, he will be drafted into the army...

Mrs. Hoyt

Mrs. Hoyt is Harry Hoyt's mom. She becomes a major activist against the Vietnam War after Harry dies. She counsels the young men of Gravesend on how to avoid the draft.

Dick Jarvits

Dick Jarvits is a teenage boy of about fourteen or fifteen who lives in Phoenix, Arizona. His older brother is the dead warrant officer whose body Owen delivers. We'll be to the point with it: this...

Katherine Keeling

Katherine Keeling is a figure from John's adulthood in Toronto. She is the headmistress of the Bishop Strachan School where John is an English teacher. She and John are good friends, and every year...


Lydia is Harriet Wheelwright's maid. Lydia gets some sort of cancer (John isn't too specific about it, but we're going to assume it's bone cancer) and has to have her right leg amputated. After tha...

Canon Mackie

Canon Mackie is the current head honcho at Grace Church on-the-Hill when we follow John around his present life in 1987. He is quick to remind John that his anti-American sentiments strike a lot of...

Graham McSwiney

Graham McSwiney lives in Boston. He was Tabby's voice teacher while she was still alive. When Owen and John go to see him, he gives them some clues about Tabby's past.

Mr. Meany

Mr. Meany is Owen's dad. He runs a granite quarry in Gravesend. Every time he sees John, from childhood to adulthood, Mr. Meany exclaims, "why, it's Johnny Wheelwright!"  Mr. Meany is proud of...

Mrs. Meany

Mrs. Meany is Owen's mother. We hear barely a peep out of her throughout the novel, but she has a powerful presence – she just plain creeps us out in a lot of ways. Mrs. Meany spends most of her...

Mrs. Merrill

Mrs. Merrill is Rev. Lewis Merrill's wife. Johnny remarks about how she must have been pretty at one time, but now she's totally haggard. She's originally from California, and Johnny imagines that...

The Merrill Kids

Reverend and Mrs. Merrill have three kids. We never learn their names, and maybe there's a reason why; they are all kind of blah and forgettable.

Mrs. Needham

We only briefly meet Mrs. Needham. She's Dan's mom. She's sort of pretentious and elitist. Dan ceases to have anything to do with her or the rest of his family after they turn up their noses at Joh...

Chief Pike

Chief Pike is the police officer on the scene when Tabby is killed. Whenever we see him throughout the remainder of the novel, he seems to be on the lookout for the baseball that he regards as the...


Sagamore is Mr. Fish's dog. John can't help but think it's irreverent to name a dog after a Native American chief. Sagamore dies when a diaper truck runs him over (just another example of how this...

Archibald Thorndike

Archibald Thorndike is the headmaster of Gravesend Academy when John and Owen first start going to school there. He's kind of old and kooky. He really takes a shine to Owen and gives him privileges...

Buzzy Thurston

Buzzy Thurston bats ahead of Owen on the day that Tabby is killed. He will later become addicted to drugs and alcohol as a means of staying out of Vietnam.

Mrs. Walker

Mrs. Walker is the Sunday School teacher in Gravesend. She gets to star in a lot of plays. John and Owen continually lament the fact that she hides her gorgeous legs under modest clothing.

Reverend Dudley Wiggin

Rev. Wiggin is the rector at the Episcopal Church that Johnny, Tabby, and Dan start attending after Tabby and Dan get married. He was once a pilot. He seems like a nice enough guy, but Johnny regar...

Barb Wiggin

Barb is Rev. Wiggin's wife. She used to be a stewardess. Barb is loud and brash, and Owen absolutely despises her.
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