The Complex Relationship Between Faith and Fate in a Prayer for Owen Meany

Topics: John Irving, A Prayer for Owen Meany, Phillips Exeter Academy Pages: 3 (848 words) Published: October 17, 2012
Zach Young
APLang B3
October 19, 2011
The Complex Relation between Faith and Fate
In the novel A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving, numerous themes present themselves to the reader. Irving uses the idea of the relationship of faith and fate to question whether or not faith directly shapes our fate, creating the idea that believing in God in a world with no faith completely absurd. As the novel unfolds, you begin to understand ‘special purpose’ each character serves can only be told in the way God decides.

When Owen Meany is on stage portraying the ghost of Christmas yet to come he approaches the gravestone prop, stops, and suddenly faints. He later awakens, as the curtains fall only to realize that the name he read on the gravestone is his own. Scared, he knew he had been given a glimpse into his future. “It made (Owen) furious when I suggested that anything was an ‘accident’ – especially anything that happened to him; on the subject of predestination, Owen Meany would accuse Calvin of bad faith. There were no accidents.”(Irving 66) Owen has a very strong sense of faith and believed that this directly affected his fate and the fates of others and because Owen believes he is an ‘instrument of God’ and that there are no accidents. Everything dealing with Owen is fated to occur. As did others in the novel, Sagamore, John’s mother (Tabitha), John’s grandmother, and others all become symbols of things foreshadowed to die because they lost their faith at some point throughout the novel.

Another example of faith shaping fate is when Mr. Fish taught Owen and John to play football because he had no children of his own. Owen was so small, that he was unable to kick the ball any distance. However, Mr. Fish had faith that eventually Owen would be able to. As a part of fate and the beginning of many deaths, Owen kicked the ball far enough to satisfy Mr. Fish, only to notice that when Sagamore went to chase the ball, a diaper truck had gotten in the way....

Cited: Irving, John. A Prayer for Owen Meany. New York: Ballantine Books, 1990. Print
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