A Prayer for Owen Meany
by John Irving
A Prayer for Owen Meany Family Quotes
How we cite our quotes:
"AND UNFORTUNATELY I REALLY CAN'T INVITE YOU TO MY HOUSE, BECAUSE THERE'S REALLY NOTHING TO DO IN THE HOUSE, AND BECAUSE MY FATHER RUNS A GRANITE QUARRY, HE'S RATHER STRICT ABOUT THE EQUIPMENT AND THE QUARRIES THEMSELVES, WHICH ARE OUTDOORS, ANYWAY. INDOORS, AT MY HOUSE, WOULD NOT BE A LOT OF FUN BECAUSE MY PARENTS ARE RATHER STRANGE ABOUT CHILDREN." (2.351)
We mostly learn about Owen's relationship with his family in bits and pieces. Every time he mentions his family, though, we get even more curious – what is up with these people? Well, we find out the answer sooner or later…
Dan was next. He sat on my bed, too. He reminded me that he had legally adopted me; that although I was Johnny Wheelwright to everyone in Gravesend, I was as good as a Johnny Needham to the school, and that meant that I could go to Gravesend Academy—when the time came, and just as my mother had wanted me to—as a legitimate faculty child, just as if I were Dan's actual son. Dan said he thought of me as his son, anyway, and he would never take a job that took him away from Gravesend Academy until I'd had the chance to graduate. He said he'd understand if I found 80 Front Street more comfortable than his dormitory apartment, but that he liked having me live in his apartment, with him, if I wasn't too bored with the confinement of the place. (3.247)
John and Dan really have the best stepson/stepdad relationship ever. Even after Tabby dies, Dan continues to take care of John and act as a loving father.
I thought [Owen] was excessively proud of himself—and that he treated his parents harshly. We all go through a phase—it lasts a lifetime, for some of us—when we're embarrassed by our parents; we don't want them hanging around us because we're afraid they'll do or say something that will make us feel ashamed of them. But Owen seemed to me to suffer this embarrassment more than most; that's why I thought he held his parents at such a great distance from himself. And he was, in my opinion, exceedingly bossy toward his father. At an age when most of our peers were enduring how much their parents bossed them around, Owen was always telling his father what to do. (5.35)
Owen's relationship with his parents is unusual, to say the least. It seems like there's a total role reversal between parent and child – Owen gets to run the show and call the shots, while his parents behave in a docile, obedient way towards him.