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A Prayer for Owen Meany

A Prayer for Owen Meany


by John Irving

John Wheelwright Timeline and Summary

  • John gives us the backstory on his family and childhood.
  • John meets Dan Needham, his mom's new beau.
  • Dan gives John a stuffed armadillo.
  • Johnny has to kiss Hester when he loses the game of "through the house."
  • Johnny gets a new stepdad when Tabby and Dan get married in July of 1952.
  • In the summer of 1953, John's mom, Tabby, dies when Owen hits a foul ball that smacks her in the head.
  • At Tabby's funeral, Johnny pays attention to who is there and who isn't.
  • After the funeral, all of the adults in Johnny's family offer for him to live with them. He decides to split his time between Dan and his grandmother.
  • Johnny and Hester go for a walk and see Owen praying over Tabby's grave.
  • Owen gives Johnny all of his baseball cards. In return, John gives him his stuffed armadillo. They return each other's possessions, but for some weird reason, Owen removes the armadillo's claws and keeps them for himself.
  • During the holiday season of 1953, Owen and Johnny take Dan's master key and break into the dorm rooms and Gravesend academy. They find dirty magazines and other interesting objects.
  • John gets the part of Joseph in the Christ Church Christmas pageant.
  • John tells Mr. and Mrs. Meany that Owen is going to play the part of Baby Jesus in the Christmas pageant. They don't seem all that pleased and he feels like he shouldn't have said anything.
  • John and Owen witness the Brinker-Smiths doing it in one of the Gravesend Academy dorms.
  • During the Christ Church Christmas pageant, Owen flips out when he sees his parents. John carries him through the audience.
  • During the final production of A Christmas Carol, John stands backstage and scans the crowd so he can see if he can re-create the audience at the baseball game when his mom was killed. He wonders if his birth father was there.
  • After trying to comfort Owen after he flips out during A Christmas Carol, John goes home and finds out that Lydia is dead. Germaine is terrified and asks to sleep in the other twin bed in his room. John becomes strangely aroused.
  • Owen tells John that he saw his own name on Scrooge's gravestone. John asks if there was a date, and Owen says no. John feels like crying, because he knows that it's the first time that Owen has ever lied to him.
  • John and Owen go to high school at the local public school for a year.
  • In 1958, John and Owen start as freshmen at Gravesend Academy after doing a year at the local high school.
  • John spends the following summer giving admissions tours of Gravesend Academy.
  • Owen becomes obsessed with basketball, and with slam-dunking in particular. He devises a move that he simply calls "the shot" – he runs up to John as John passes him the ball. Then John hoists him up in the air and Owen slam-dunks the ball.
  • John struggles with reading and writing to the point where he has to take remedial classes, and the school insists that he visits Dr. Dolder, the school psychiatrist, once a week.
  • John and Owen apply to college.
  • John and Owen also continue to practice the shot.
  • John and Owen go to Boston one day and start unraveling the mystery surrounding Tabby's past.
  • John, Owen, and Hester spend New Year's Eve, 1961 at 80 Front Street. John falls asleep early.
  • Dan and John overhear Owen sobbing to Rev. Merrill about how he's still having "the dream."
  • In the fall of 1962, John begins his freshman year at the University of New Hampshire.
  • After JFK is assassinated in November 1963, Hester tells John that Owen has been having terrifying dreams.
  • In 1966, John is summoned for his pre-induction physical for the army. Mrs. Hoyt counsels him on how to dodge the draft.
  • Owen tells John about his recurring dream.
  • One night, John walks through the Gravesend Academy campus and sees Owen give the valedictory address he never got to give in high school.
  • John takes Owen to Sawyer Depot.
  • John moves in with Hester when Owen moves to Arizona.
  • John gets a notice from the draft board in 1967. Looks like it's army time. He calls Owen, who tells him to skip the physical and hang tight until he can get leave to come back to Gravesend for a couple of days.
  • Owen cuts off John's trigger finger.
  • On the Fourth of July, 1968, Owen calls John and asks him to meet him in Phoenix.
  • Owen and John go to Dick Jarvits' family's house for the dead warrant officer's funeral.
  • Owen and John see Dick Jarvits' collection of weapons.
  • John and Owen hang out at their motel and get drunk and go swimming.
  • Owen and John play the "memory game."
  • The next day, July 8, 1968, Owen and John go to the airport. A plane lands and all of these nuns and Vietnamese children walk out of it.
  • Owen and John take some of the male children to the bathroom.
  • Dick Jarvits shows up. He throws a grenade at John, who catches it and passes it to Owen. They complete "the shot" that they've been practicing all these years, except with the grenade instead of a basketball.
  • John goes to visit the Meanys before Owen's funeral. Mr. Meany reveals that Owen was a virgin birth, and Mrs. Meany flips out.
  • Mr. Meany shows John the gravestone that Owen made for himself, correct death date and all.
  • John finds out that Reverend Lewis Merrill is his real father.
  • John gets the dressmaker's dummy and puts it outside Rev. Merrill's window.
  • John reads Owen's diary, which says that John should move to Canada.
  • John moves to Canada and becomes an English teacher at Bishop Strachan School.