A Prayer for Owen Meany
by John Irving
A Prayer for Owen Meany Identity Quotes
How we cite our quotes:
So what if Owen has the ball? I was thinking. But at the time I was mainly thinking about my mother; I was already beginning to get angry with her for never telling me who my father was.
At the time, I was only eleven; I had no idea who else had attended that Little League game, and that death—and who had his own reason for wanting to possess the ball that Owen Meany hit. (1.221-222)
This passage brings up the theme in two distinct ways. On one hand, Johnny is angry because, now that his mother is dead, he might never find out who is father is. We also are introduced to somebody whose identity is a mystery to us: there is someone at the game who is particularly interested in possessing the deadly baseball. We don't know who either person is; at this point, neither does Johnny. Still, we get the sense that we will figure out the identity of both figures by the time we finish the novel.
That Owen Meany was a Chosen One was the furthest thing from my mind; that Owen could even consider himself one of God's Appointed would have been a surprise to me. To have seen him up in the air, at Sunday school, you would not have thought he was at work on God's Assignment. And you must remember—forgetting about Owen—that at the age of eleven I did not believe there were "chosen ones," or that God "appointed" anyone, or that God gave "assignments." As for Owen's belief that he was "God's instrument," I didn't know that there was other evidence upon which Owen was basing his conviction that he'd been specially selected to carry out the work of the Lord; but Owen's idea—that God's reasoning was somehow predetermining Owen's every move—came from much more than that one unlucky swing and crack of the bat. As you shall see. (2.471)
John's perception of Owen's identity as a kid is pretty different from his perception of Owen as an adult. As a kid, he just sees Owen as this goofy little kid who happens to be his best friend.
I never had a hint that Dan was the slightest bothered by this ritual, although I recall my grandmother asking my mother if Dan objected to her spending one night a week in Boston.
"Why should he?" my mother asked.
The answer, which was not forthcoming, was as obvious to my grandmother as it was to me: that the most likely candidate for the unclaimed position of my father, and my other's mystery lover, was that "famous" singing teacher. (3.110-112)
The whole family has their suspicions about the true identity of Johnny's father. It's kind of interesting to watch them obsess over it while Tabby pretends to be oblivious.