A Prayer for Owen Meany Essay

6 June 2016

In his novel A Prayer for Owen Meany, author John Irving uses a final chapter of over 100 pages to provide appropriate closure of his intricate novel. In the final chapter, Irving provides answers to large questions the rest of the novel raises. Irving answers the question “who is John Wheelwright’s father?” while also providing further information and closure, as well as the answer to “why the practicing of ‘the shot’ was so important for Owen and John.” Finally, Irving is most thorough in carrying out the closure of a main theme in the novel, Owen’s prophecy of his own exact death, how it happens, when it happens, and most importantly with whom it happens.

Since John Wheelwright was born due to “a little fling” his mother had on a train, he never knew who his real father was. As a boy he always believed his mother would tell him when he was old enough to know, but she died at an early age before she could ever tell him. The novel continues, and although John is curious, Owen is more curious, and the theme is maintained mostly through the efforts of Owen.

A Prayer for Owen Meany Essay Essay Example

In the final chapter, after Owen has died and John goes to the local reverend to discuss the funeral amongst other topics, John’s true father is revealed. His birth father, the Reverend Lewis Merrill himself, reveals himself to John seemingly with Owen’s voice, which tells John to look in a specific drawer to find the ball that struck John’s mother. John experiences all sorts of feelings when he finds out the truth about who his father is, most of them being rage and disappointment.

The way Irving reveals Wheelwright’s father and the detail used to describe the reason’s John was never told are very thoughtful and elaborate, a very thorough closure to a very important theme of the novel. In addition to the process of revealing John Wheelwright’s birth father, the reason ‘The Shot’ was practiced so tirelessly is equally and adequately portrayed by Irving in the final chapter. Over the course of the entire novel, ‘The Shot’ is practiced over and over again by Owen and John, as they try to accomplish the feat in under 3 seconds.

The question of why it is such an important aspect of the novel never really leaves the reader’s mind when reading the book, so when ‘The Shot’ process is used to save innocent children, and appropriate conclusion of the theme is found. Irving continuously includes the practice of ‘The Shot’ to ensure the reader of its importance, and when Owen and John are in the position to used a pinless grenade in place of a basketball, their tireless practice ensures they execute to perfection, and the innocent Vietnamese children are saved. Irving appropriately answers the lingering question of the importance of ‘The Shot,’ just as he answers the question “who is John’s real father?”

Lastly, what is probably the most crucial theme in need of closure in the last chapter is that of Owen’s vision and prophecy of his own exact death. Once the reader gains knowledge of Owen’s prophecy of his own death, it is natural to wonder whether or not the prophecy will hold true. Irving fails to disappoint in his conclusion of this suspenseful theme, as he waits until the very end of the novel to explain how Owen died.

When Owen saw his date of death on Scrooge’s gravestone in his dream, he also saw that John would be there when he died. He also saw there would be Asian children at his death. Irving’s description of how Owen dies is detailed and intense, and appropriately provides closure for this major theme and point of interest. The readers finds out that Owen was not only correct of the date, but also correct that the Asian children and his best friend John Wheelwright would be present. John Irving’s final chapter, although long winded and full of Bible references and somewhat excessive religious context, is a very fitting and information-filled conclusion to a well written and intense novel. Irvings closure of major themes and questions posed throughout the earlier stages of the novel are thoroughly described and easily understood. When one finishes reading his novel, it seems clear that Irving wishes the reader to be without many questions, as well as be satisfied with the closure given to the wide variety of questions and themes he so masterfully poses throughout the text.

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