Wednesday, April 29, 2009
A Prayer for Owen Meany-1
In “A Prayer for Owen Meany” by John Irving, religion and sexuality played very conflicting roles throughout the book. Even as a very young child, Owen is aware of the importance religion plays in his life, and is very opinionated about his role in God’s purpose, as well as the roles of others. At the same time, he is very aware of the female body in a sexual way, which is first portrayed in an innocent way with Johnny’s mother, but later in a much more overt sexual manner with Hester, who was called “Hester the Molester” by her older brothers, because of her extremely sexual manner. Johnny mentioned that the only one who could make a sexual comment about his mother was Owen Meany, because he was always honest. In his strange way, Owen announced “‘YOUR MOTHER HAS THE BEST BREAST OF ALL THE MOTHERS.’,” (29). Owen’s own mother never left the house, and was not really a mother figure at all. Instead, Owen took comfort from Tabby, Johnny’s mother. A tabby is often thought of as a type of cat, and in this case, the image of a mother cat allowing multiple kittens to nurse at once is brought to mind. In this case, breasts are a source of maternal comfort for Meany, while he may not yet realize the sexual implications. Later, he finds himself infatuated with Hester, who is very flirtatious but also uses her body as a weapon. The games she invents are not tinted with an innocent hint of sexuality, but are instead, very much the opposite. Owen, at this point, has become more aware of his own sexuality, and later tells John that sex only makes people crazy. The sexual nature of his being reminds the reader that though he may be God’s instrument, he is indeed still human, unlike Jesus, who refrained from any sinful behavior or thoughts. The fact that the reader cannot get into John’s mind as much could almost make him more like a Christ figure, because his thoughts seem much more innocent, and it was said that he stayed a virgin forever. He also sacrificed his finger so he could have a career with reading and writing when he wasn’t sure if he wanted to join the army. Though sex is brought up many more times in the book, one part that was less noticeable stuck out to me: Owen’s supposed virgin birth. The fact that so many people in the book are sexual is a stark contrast to Owen’s parents who claim they were not. Everyone else in the book goes out, goes to church, and goes about their daily business, yet Owen’s mother always stays in, and his father is often very busy in the confines of their quarry. There are vast differences between his family, and every other town citizen, which makes it possible that Owen was indeed a virgin birth.