A Prayer For Owen Meany, By John Irving

1102 words - 4 pages

How many people honestly know their true identity? In today’s society, some try so hard to fit in, they lose themselves in the mixture. However, those who stay true to themselves sometimes lose society in the mix. In the novel, A Prayer for Owen Meany, written by John Irving, the characters all show some sort of notable identity. Whether the character’s characteristics are known or hidden, they all assume uniqueness that significantly affect major characters in the novel such as Johnny and Owen. A theme clearly portrayed throughout this novel is having a sense of identity, which is shown through the characters Harriet, Dick and Mr. Merrill.
If one were to do an analysis on the character Harriet Wheelwright, they would see that her character changes throughout the novel. In the beginning, the readers see Harriet as a snobbish character, one that flaunts her family heritage in everyone’s face. This is seen when Johnny explains what his family heritage is:
I am descended from John Adams on my grandmother’s side (her maiden name was Bates, and her family came to America on the Mayflower); yet in our town, it was my grandfather’s name that had the clout, and my grandmother wielded her married name with such a sure sense of self-possession that she might as well have been a Wheelwright and an Adams and a Bates. (Irving 8)
However, once Tabby died, something changed in Harriet. Harriet became softer, nicer, and more pleasant to be around, especially around Owen. Owen and Harriet bond over the most unsuspecting thing: the television, and especially Liberace. Together, the two became close and Harriet starts to regard Owen as a second grandson; where as before she just finds him annoying. An example of this is when Harriet pays for Owen’s entire new wardrobe of clothes for Gravesend Academy, as his own parents cannot provide the money to. Without Harriet, Owen would not be able to attend the Academy, where he would not be able to obtain his ‘destiny.’ As one can see, Harriet’s identity starts out as a harsh, rude character that would not even give someone directions. However, as her character progresses, she turns into an agreeable, more pleasant woman. Just as Harriet’s character greatly affects major characters, such as Owen and Johnny, Dick Jarvits does the same.
Dick Jarvits, while a minor character, affects the plot line and characters in enormous ways. Dick can be described as a highly temperamental and disturbed teenager. According to recent studies, teenagers are more likely to commit crimes because of broken homes, a child’s family position, and family size. When Irving introduces the Jarvits family, one can immediately conclude that something is wrong about them. In all, the Jarvits family consists of an abusive drunk father, a crazy teenager (Dick) who hoards weapons as he cannot wait to go to Vietnam, a pregnant half-sister (which evidence suggests that her being pregnant may have been a family affair), a dead brother, and a mother...

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