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A Prayer for Owen Meany

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A Prayer for Owen Meany

In literature of significant standing, no act of violence is perpetrated without reason. For a story to be legitimate in the area of fine literature violence cannot be used in a wanton manner. In John Irving's modern classic, A Prayer for Owen Meany the audience is faced with multiple scenes of strong violence but violence is never used without reason. All of the violent acts depicted in the novel are totally necessary for the characters and the plot to develop. This plot-required violence can be seen in the novel's first chapter when Owen accidentally kills John's mother and in the novel's last chapter when John relates Owen's grotesque, while heroic, death to the audience. The violence that is shown in this novel is used in such a calculated manner that it leaves a great impression on the audience.

In Chapter one, the narrator vividly relates his mother's death to the audience, explaining the reasoning behind this amount of detail with the statement, "Your memory is a monster; you forget- it doesn't." The author meticulously records every sensory stimulus he received in the moments leading up to and following his mother's death; demonstrating how this event dramatically altered the course of his young life. Another example of the detailed memory the narrator recounts in this portion of the novel is seen in the passage, "Later, I would remember everything. In revisiting the scene of my

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mother's death I can remember everyone who was in the stands that day..." This reference to the narrator's vivid memory and the detailed depiction of the event shows the gravity of the situation and allows the reader to fully grasp the impact that the accident had on both the protagonist and the narrator. This act of bizarre violence is used masterfully in the author's recount of his life. It shows how hard it is for a young boy to lose the only parent he ever knew and it also shows how hard it is for a child to be implicated in an event where someone close to the child has been unintentionally killed.

In the novel's final chapter, John reveals the climax of the story, Owen's death. Owen's death is intricate to the story and by the time this scene is read the audience is already aware of Owen's untimely death. What makes this scene so important is the manner in which Owen died; being killed by a lunatic's grenade while saving a group of Vietnamese children. The details of this event fulfill Owen's Christ-like prophecy of his own death. Owen had previously



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