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A Prayer for Owen Meany

A Prayer for Owen Meany

by John Irving

Religion Theme

Did the religious overtones of A Prayer for Owen Meany seem to smack you over the head as you read it? Well, they ought to, considering that religion plays such a strong part in the novel. No sooner do you read the first paragraph than you find out that John, our narrator, is a Christian because of Owen Meany. We spend the rest of the novel figuring out why that's the case. Owen himself is presented as a Christ-like figure (for more, see the "Symbols" section). Much of the novel centers on the struggle to find faith and to maintain it in light of trying circumstances. We get to know a lot about how religious belief is not fixed; it goes through all kinds of ups and downs. Some characters have it and will always have it; others don't have it at all. Some, like John, gain a sense of religious faith only after witnessing something truly miraculous.

Questions About Religion

  1. Why do you think it's important that Owen has so many criticisms to make about organized religion?
  2. Why do you think Tabby lied to everyone about her motives for joining the Episcopal Church?
  3. Compare and contrast Rev. Dudley Wiggin and Rev. Lewis Merrill.
  4. How is John's attitude towards religion as an adult different from his attitude as a boy and as a young man?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Owen Meany is a Christ-like figure because he inherently possesses characteristics that make him seem like Christ.

Owen Meany behaves in a Christ-like way because he wants to be seen as such.

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