Faith in a Prayer for Owen Meany

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“Faith is to believe what you do not see; the reward of this faith is to see what you believe.”

The main theme of A Prayer for Owen Meany is religious faith--specifically, the relationship between faith and doubt in a world in which there is no obvious evidence for the existence of God. John writes on the first page of the book that Owen Meany is the reason that he is a Christian, and ensuing story is presented as an explanation of the reason why. Though the plot is complicated, the explanation for Owen's effect on Johnny's faith is extremely simple; Owen's life is a miracle and offers miraculous and almost undeniable evidence of God's existence. John struggles throughout the book to resolve his faith with his skepticism and doubt, but at the end he doesn’t need to make a choice between the two extremes. In the book, he states “it's not god who's fucked up, it's the screamers who say they believe in him and who claim to pursue their ends in his holy name.” John remains troubled, because Owen's sacrificial death seems painfully unfair. Johnny is left with the problem of accepting God's will. In the end, he invests more faith in Owen himself than he invests in God, and he concludes the novel by asking God to allow Owen's resurrection and return to Earth. The most important symbol in A Prayer for Owen Meany is, for the title's sake, Owen; Owen embodies the relationship between the natural and the supernatural world. With his tiny, dwarfed body, his oddly glowing skin, and his nasal voice, Owen is not entirely of this world. His appearance affirms his bizarre spiritual life, in which he seems to be in direct communication with God. On the other hand, Owen is very much of this world; he grows up in a granite quarry, and his name is "Meany", a name not exactly received by the Gravesend people. For all his weirdness, Owen in many ways represents the spiritual condition of humankind; the difference between others and Owen is that he is aware of being an...
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