Faith vs. Analysis in "A Prayer for Owen Meany" by John Irving

Essay by istealpantsHigh School, 12th gradeA, January 2007

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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 through logic. While it's not an impossible notion for someone to be logical and analytical while at the same time believing that coincidences don't exist and that every action is governed by a higher power, Owen takes this melding of cogency and blind faith to an extreme in his personality.

Owen shows several times that he is not only the prime character to be explained but also the prime investigator. For example when, detective-like, he and Johnny inspect the empty dormitory rooms at Gravesend Academy, Owen creates each boy's personality from the clues left in the room. His method is thorough and orderly; he examines every item, always completes his investigation by lying on the absent boy's bed, and then draws his conclusions. Owen uses a similar method when finding out who Johnny's father is. He finds the names of the store on Johnny's mother's red dress, finds the address from a phone book, schedules a meeting with Tabitha's voice coach, and plans every detail to help him help Johnny find his father before even telling Johnny his intentions. Owen's room yet again shows Owen as a...