Owen’s Fated Impact Essay, Research Paper

The existence of fate is an ongoing controversy. John Irving, when writing A

Prayer for Owen Meany, gives the audience many encounters with fate to try to

sway their opinions. However, he does not force it on the audience, merely

educates them in the miracles that could happen and lets them decide for

themselves. Owen not only believed his life was fated, but that he is an

instrument of God who is there to carry out God’s will. His own experiences were

obviously believed by him to be fated and the tragedy of John’s mother was

supposed to occur. He was an indirect, but integral part of the fates of others

as well, including John, Hester and Dan.

Despite Owen’s belief that life is fated, he believes he must actively pursue

that future. Everything he or anyone else does has a reason for happening and

that God intends it. Owen’s visions of his future were seen as not only

assurance, but also guidelines to living his life. Throughout his life, people

who were only partially religious, or at least felt they had to be, surrounded

him. This negativity toward God never dampened Owen’s faith and it became

stronger all the time. His belief in fate led him to Phoenix, initially thought

to be Vietnam, where his dream became a reality. “IT’S NOT THAT I WANT TO GO TO



FATE. THE WAY YOU KNOW WHAT GOD WANTS YOU TO DO.” (Irving, 1989, 471) Some would

question if in fact this was his true fate or if he created it himself. Irving

likely put this question in the novel to let his audience know that fate is

questionable and mysterious. Even with its mysteries, it has its believers and

they have all the proof they need. Aside from his fate, Owen believed he is an

instrument of God. He believes this because of Tabby’s fate, but also because he

is fated to save a group of children. This keeps Owen from quitting when so many

obstacles were in his way. His fate to be a hero kept him going and that

demonstrates as faith that plays a crucial role in his life.

Although Owen had always believed in fate, he did not come to believe he was

God’s instrument until Tabby’s death. Owen assumed he disturbed an angel of

death on night, thereby inheriting the job himself. When he hit John’s mother

there was little remorse illustrated because he knew it was out of his hands.


HANDS. I AM GOD’S INSTRUMENT.” (Irving, 1989, 87) This quote reveals Owen’s

religious beliefs and the strength they hold on his life. By believing that he

is an instrument of God, he has taken on the responsibility of not only his own

fate, but also those of others. However, this does not allow him to decide what

will happen and when, but merely is chosen to carry out God’s wishes. The fact

that he is a virgin birth, most likely helped Owen reach this conclusion;

otherwise, it seems preposterous to even suggest. His life was not only fated

with an untimely death, but also the privilege to be chosen by God to see that

His wishes are met. This reinforces the fact that John Irving is trying to sell

the idea of fate. When Owen interrupted the angel, her death was just delayed,

not avoided. Her fate was still carried out which implies that she indeed had a

fate waiting for her.

In addition to playing a role in Tabby’s fate, Owen Meany also affected the fate

of others close to him, first and most obvious is John. John says in the very

beginning of the novel “I am a Christian because of Owen Meany”. (Irving, 1989,

1) Religion is a huge topic in everyone’s life and to credit one person with

your beliefs is a great accomplishment on their part. Owen was John’s best

friend up until his death and still even then. Owen’s fate and the fact that he

knew his fate influenced John into believing. Owen served his purpose to John,

to enforce the faith in him. Hester was also greatly affected by Owen’s fate.

She stated “I’ll marry you, I’ll move to Arizona–I’ll go anywhere with you,

Owen…I’ll even get pregnant–if you’d like that, Owen. Do you want babies?

I’ll give you babies!” (Irving, 1989, 531) Hester loved Owen an extreme amount

and was never the same after he left. Her character was not really developed

after his death, but she did become a rock star. Owen had influenced her life

and if not for him, she may have settled down and not had a chance to develop

her singing career. Dan’s life may have been affected the least of the three by

Owen, but still needs to be examined. Owen was responsible for his wife’s death.

The death of a loved one, especially so soon after their marriage, is hard to

handle and possibly he was never able to recover. His fate of living a bachelor

life was Owen’s doing as well. His affect on these characters shows his presence

was influencial and purposeful. He was an aid in God’s plan for them and will

remain in their minds and hearts forever.

Owen’s fate was so strongly believed in his own mind that, he turned his life

upside down to bring that dream into reality; he also affected the lives of

others when he fought for this fate. Irving uses Owen’s experiences to introduce

the idea of fate and cause questions in the minds of believers and non-believers

alike. The audience is left to decide for themselves whether or not Owen really

was an instrument of God because that question is never really answered in the

novel. He shows how one boy’s faith in his predetermined future can affect the

lives of so many. Owen Meany may not have been an instrument of God, but by

giving faith to so many people, he may as well have been.

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