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A Prayer for Owen Meany

A Prayer for Owen Meany


by John Irving

Owen Meany Timeline and Summary

  • We meet Owen Meany, who is small for his size and has this weird, screechy voice.
  • Owen becomes obsessed with Johnny's stuffed armadillo.
  • John (our narrator) recalls a time when they were kids in which Owen pretended to drown and got mad when everyone else was too scared to know what to do – he thought that nobody tried to save him.
  • Owen meets Johnny's cousins during Thanksgiving. He gets too excited when Hester tickles him, and he ends up peeing all over himself.
  • Owen goes to Dan and Tabby's wedding and steals Hester's panties.
  • In 1953 at a little league game, Owen hits a foul ball that kills Tabby.
  • Owen gives Johnny his baseball card collection and receives Johnny's stuffed armadillo in return. Owen removes its claws.
  • Owen prays over Tabby's grave after her funeral.
  • Owen goes to Dan's apartment and takes Tabby's dressmaker's dummy.
  • 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.
  • Owen gets the part of Baby Jesus in the Christ Church Christmas pageant. He butts heads with Barb Wiggin because he offers a lot of input that contradicts what she wants to do.
  • Owen's parents seem kind of freaked out when John tells them that Owen is going to play Baby Jesus.
  • Owen and John witness the Brinker-Smiths hooking up in one of the Gravesend Academy dorm rooms.
  • Owen also gets the part of The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come in Dan's production of A Christmas Carol.
  • During the Christ Church Christmas pageant, Owen sees his parents in the audience and totally flips out.
  • During the final performance of A Christmas Carol, Owen looks so scary that Maureen Early pees herself.
  • As the Ghost of the Future, Owen takes Ebenezer Scrooge (played by Mr. Fish) over to his "grave." Owen looks at the grave, screams, and runs offstage.
  • Owen tells John that he saw his name on the grave. He lies and says that there wasn't a date on it.
  • Owen gets into Gravesend Academy, but does a year at the local public school with John until he can get into the Academy, too.
  • Owen gets his driver's license and starts driving the tomato-red pickup truck.
  • In 1958, John and Owen start as freshmen at Gravesend Academy after doing a year at the local high school.
  • Owen starts writing for the Gravesend Academy paper, The Grave. He calls himself The Voice.
  • Owen takes Hester to the senior dance, even though he's a freshman. Afterwards, everyone is convinced that they hooked up.
  • Owen spends the following summer working in his dad's granite quarry.
  • During their sophomore year, Owen hits the ground running at The Grave by writing stacks of columns.
  • 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.
  • When John has to start seeing the school psychiatrist in response to his reading difficulties, Owen writes an article about learning disabilities.
  • Owen writes an article in The Grave about what a terrific substitute Religion teacher Rev. Merrill is. In response, the school hires Rev. Merrill permanently.
  • Much to Owen's dismay, Gravesend Academy hires Randolph White as the new headmaster in 1960. Owen writes an article against the decision, but the faculty advisor, Mr. Early, doesn't find it fit to be published.
  • Owen starts using the school's photocopier to make fake IDs for his classmates. He charges them 21 bucks apiece.
  • Owen also starts using his column in The Grave as a platform for criticizing Mr. White at any and all costs.
  • In spite of Owen's prejudices against Catholics, he supports John F. Kennedy for the presidential election of 1960.
  • Owen feels totally inspired by Kennedy's inaugural speech. He vows to do something to help his country.
  • Owen and John apply to college. Owen gets into Harvard and Yale, and he also gets a full ride to the University of New Hampshire.
  • Owen and John go to Boston one afternoon and start unraveling the mystery surrounding Tabby's past.
  • Owen, John, and Hester spend New Year's Eve, 1961 at 80 Front Street. Owen stays up all night.
  • In January 1962, Owen gets put on disciplinary probation after speaking inappropriately to Mrs. Lish, who spoke inappropriately about the president. Owen also stops writing as The Voice.
  • The school makes Owen start seeing Dr. Dolder for counseling once a week. He also starts seeing Rev. Merrill a lot.
  • Owen bets the basketball team that they can't lift up Dr. Dolder's Volkswagen and carry it onto the stage of the Great Hall. Of course, they do it.
  • Owen tells Rev. Merrill that he's responsible for the Volkswagen incident.
  • Larry Lish rats on Owen for selling fake IDs. Owen gets thrown out of Gravesend Academy for good.
  • Owen steals the statue of Mary Magdalene from St. Michael's Church and welds it to the stage of the Great Hall.
  • Owen asks Rev. Merrill to pray for him.
  • Owen loses his scholarship to the University of New Hampshire, so he goes to the U.S. Army recruiting offices and signs up for the ROTC.
  • Owen spends the summer of 1962 living with Hester.
  • In the fall of 1962, Owen starts his freshman year at the University of New Hampshire.
  • In November 1963, Owen seems to change after JFK is assassinated.
  • In May of 1965, Owen leaves for Basic Training.
  • Owen tells John about his recurring dream.
  • One night, Owen goes to Gravesend Academy and delivers the valedictory address he never got to give.
  • Owen gets to go to Sawyer Depot for the first time.
  • Owen moves to Arizona.
  • When John hears from the draft board, Owen tells him not to go to his physical. Instead, he tells John to hang tight until he can get leave to come back to Gravesend.
  • Owen cuts off John's trigger finger with the diamond saw.
  • In the summer of 1967, Owen gets promoted to First Lieutenant.
  • On the Fourth of July, 1968, Owen calls John and asks him to meet him in Phoenix.
  • Owen arrives at the airport.
  • 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.
  • Owen tells Dick Jarvits that he has a bad attitude, and if he keeps it up, he'll probably end up in jail instead of the army.
  • 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.
  • Owen holds down the grenade against the windowsill. It blows off his arms and he bleeds to death.