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Themes

Little Words, Big Ideas

Religion

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 soone...

Fate and Free Will

Is Owen's death destiny, or did he pave his own path? This is a question that we're still puzzling over. Owen seems to believe pretty strongly from the time he's a young boy that God has plans for...

Mortality

We never really get away from a discussion of mortality in A Prayer for Owen Meany. We learn right away that Owen is responsible for Tabby's death. We witness the deaths of many other characters, i...

Friendship

Owen and John are quite a duo, aren't they? John seems so normal, and Owen seems so, well, strange, and yet they complement one another so well. Their friendship is central to A Prayer for Owen Mea...

Family

In A Prayer for Owen Meany, family life tells us a lot about our characters (in fact, check out "Tools of Characterization: Family" for more). We learn a whole lot about the Wheelwrights and the Ea...

Memory and the Past

John Wheelwright narrates A Prayer for Owen Meany from kind of a detached perspective: most of the events of the novel take place between 1952 and 1968, but John tells us the story from the present...

Society and Class

One aspect of life in Gravesend that John illustrates for us is the difference between his background and Owen's background. Harriet Wheelwright, John's grandmother, pays particular attention to pe...

Identity

One of the biggest questions we encounter in A Prayer for Owen Meany is this one: who is John's father? John has no idea, and for the most part, neither do we. In fact, almost all of the characters...

Principles

You've probably figured out by now that Owen has a lot of big ideas, and he is very firm in his beliefs in what is right and what is wrong. Even as a young boy, he tries to instruct others on how t...

Appearances

A Prayer for Owen Meany is full of characters who are made all the more memorable because we get such vivid pictures of what each of them looks like – regardless of how much or little time we spe...
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