Faith Vs. Analysis In "A Prayer For Owen Meany" By John Irving

838 words - 4 pages

In A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving, two distinctly opposite ways of thinking are examined, often though different characters, but most prominently through Owen Meany. In the book Owen is repeatedly shown to be methodical, precise, and analytical in several aspects of his life. This is a drastic contrast to the other side of Owen which is shown to be fervently religious and faith-driven. This juxtaposition is presented repeatedly throughout the story. The two concepts oppose each others in their descriptions; Owen believes faith is believing in something without needing proof, while at the same time Owen shows himself to be a deliberate person who has a knack for answering problems ...view middle of the document...

Owen's analytical side is also shown in his collection of baseball cards, his most prized possession, which displays this trend of being organized and carefully thought out "the cards were alphabetized, or ordered under another system - all the infielders together, maybe. We didn't know what the system was, but obviously Owen had a system" (15).One of the major questions throughout the book is about the supernatural; where Owen's faith comes from, how Owen can see visions of the future, and whether or not Owen speaks to Johnny from beyond the grave. Such issues cannot be investigated through the methodical process of explanation, but require the other traditional way of discovering meaning, faith. To Owen, either one has faith and believes without question, or one does not. As Owen says, "THE REAL MIRACLES AREN'T ANYTHING YOU CAN SEE - THEY'RE THINGS YOU HAVE TO BELIEVE WITHOUT SEEING" (277). Faith or understanding as an alternative to explanation is not limited to John's belief in Owen's divinity. Owen's faith in his divine mission and predestined death is an instantaneous leap based on signs that are not apparent to anyone else and hence are not communicable or reproducible. The "evidence" that these signs provide must be accepted on faith or intuition, not through a process of explanation or investigation. Similarly, the novel raises...

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