Prayer For Owen Meany
The theme of death and dying in A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving is
constant throughout the novel. Many events that prepare the characters for death
occur through the death of Tabitha Wheelwright, through Owen’s faith and
religion, also through Owen’s own death. In relation to the book and reality,
there are events in life that people encounter that prepare themselves for
death. In the novel, the event of Tabitha Wheelwright’s death is the first and
also one of the most important events. John and Owen experience death of a loved
one at an early age when Owen accidentally kills Tabitha with a baseball. After
this event John and Owen encounter many feelings that are associated with death.

John felt anger towards his mother for leaving him so soon. John wanting to know
many things about his mother could not be answered. This is evident in pages

34-35 where John wanted to know who his father was, but his mother had already
left before she could even tell him. Owen felt the emotion of guilt. Though the
death of John’s mother was an accident, Owen blames himself. "GOD HAS TAKEN

YOUR MOTHER. MY HANDS WERE THE INSTRUMENT. GOD HAS TAKEN MY HANDS. I AM GOD’S

INSTRUMENT." - P. 87 In this quote, the only way for Owen to deal with the
accident is by associating it with his faith. John’s and Owen’s feelings are
natural when people lose a close one, but it helps them embrace death later down
the road, and also their own. Owen’s unconditional faith helped John go on
after his mother’s death. Owen’s constant bible references made John feel
comfortable about death than to fear it. "I am the resurrection and the life,
saith the Lord. He believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live, and
whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die." – P. 181 In this
quote, Owen is reciting out from the bible to John to convince him of life after
death. When you die, it is not the end, but the beginning of a new life with

God. "Into paradise may the angels lead you." – P. 616 Owen telling John
to reassure him that the angels will guide him into Heaven after death. Owen’s
complete faith in God helped John understand death as not a tragedy but a
transitional journey. In the second half of the novel, Owen realizes that he
will die and that he is God’s instrument. Owen was placed on earth for a
purpose, which he completes at the end. Owen’s death helped him deal with his
own death, preparing him for the worst. "LAST NITE I HAD A DREAM. NOW I KNOW

FOUR THINGS. I KNOW THAT MY VOICE DOESN’T CHANGE – BUT I STILL DON’T KNOW

WHY. I KNOW THAT I AM GOD’S INSTRUMENT. I KNOW WHEN I’M GOING TO DIE – AND

NOW A DREAM HAS SHOWN ME HOW I’M GOING TO DIE. I’M GOING TO BE A HERO! I

TRUST THAT GOD WILL HELP ME, BECAUSE WHAT I’M SUPPOSED TO DO LOOKS VERY

HARD." – P. 416 This is where Owen has his dream, which tells him that he
will be a hero by saving the orphan children from the grenade, which leads to
his death. Also another event where Owen interrupted the Angel of Death made him
believe he was going to be used to kill Tabitha Wheelwright. "In Owen’s
opinion, he had INTERUPTED AN ANGEL, he had DISTURBED AN ANGEL AT WORK, he had

UPSET THE SCHEME OF THINGS." – P. 102 This quote helps Owen explain and also
convince himself that he was used to kill Tabitha because God had made him his
instrument. Tabitha died for a reason, and God made sure that it was by Owen’s
hands because it brought John and Owen together. Owen Meany’s death and him
being an instrument of God, it helped John believe in God and that afterlife is
true. Owen and John experienced death and dying through many deaths from the
beginning to the end of the novel. Many events happened to John to lead him to
believe in God, which ultimately helped him embrace death, events such as his
mother’s death, Owen’s faith and Owen’s claim that he is God’s
instrument and also his death.