A Prayer for Owen Meany

One of the protagonists of the novel, Owen Meany is John Wheelwright’s best friend and the reason he believes in God. Born premature, Owen is raised at his family’s granite quarry, where he is exposed to massive amounts of dust. Owen is freakishly small and has a grating voice, which is trapped in a perpetual high-pitched scream, though he makes up for his small stature with his outsized opinions, exerting a strong persuasive influence over everyone he meets. He is obsessed with the image of the armless man from town legend, especially after he accidentally kills John’s mother, Tabitha Wheelwright, with a foul baseball when he and John are eleven, and becomes convinced that his arms belong to God. Owen’s parents tell him that that Mrs. Meany became pregnant with him while she was still a virgin, meaning that Owen was a miracle, a son of God like Jesus himself. While they were likely mistaken, Owen nonetheless believes from a young age that he is meant to be God’s instrument. As a young boy, Owen begins to have a recurring dream that reveals to him when and how he will die—somewhere tropical, surrounded by nuns, and saving Vietnamese children from an explosion by “slam-dunking” a grenade away from the children with John’s help. Although Owen can be prideful and combative, he is also strongly principled and believes wholeheartedly in doing what he can for his country. He is far from blindly patriotic, however, and he knows he is meant to sacrifice his life for foreign children, not Americans. He bravely sets out to meet his duty as God’s martyr, and faithfully prepares for the day when he is to save a group of Vietnamese children from dying in an explosion. Eventually that day comes, and he dies exactly as he’s dreamed it all these years: as a selfless hero, sent by God to be just the right person at just the right place at just the right time.

Owen Meany Quotes in A Prayer for Owen Meany

The A Prayer for Owen Meany quotes below are all either spoken by Owen Meany or refer to Owen Meany. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
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). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Harper Collins edition of A Prayer for Owen Meany published in 1989.
Chapter 1 Quotes

Owen was so tiny, we loved to pick him up; in truth, we couldn’t resist picking him up. We thought it was a miracle: how little he weighed.

Related Characters: John Wheelwright (speaker), Owen Meany, Mary Beth Baird
Related Symbols: Weightlessness
Page Number: 4
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 2 Quotes

“Your friend is most original,” Dan Needham said, with the greatest respect. “Don’t you see, Johnny? If he could, he would cut off his hands for you—that’s how it makes him feel, to have touched that baseball bat, to have swung that bat with those results. It’s how we all feel—you and me and Owen. We’ve lost a part of ourselves.” And Dan picked up the wrecked armadillo and began to experiment with it on my night table, trying—as I had tried—to find a position that allowed the beast to stand, or even to lie down, with any semblance of comfort or dignity; it was quite impossible…

And so Dan and I became quite emotional, while we struggled to find a way to make the armadillo’s appearance acceptable—but that was the point, Dan concluded: there was no way that any or all of this was acceptable. What had happened was unacceptable! Yet we still had to live with it.

Related Characters: John Wheelwright (speaker), John’s Stepfather / Dan Needham (speaker), Owen Meany
Related Symbols: The Baseball, Armless Totems
Page Number: 89
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 3 Quotes

It made [Owen] furious when I suggested that anything was an “accident”—especially anything that had happened to him; on the subject of predestination, Owen Meany would accuse Calvin of bad faith. There were no accidents; there was a reason for that baseball—just as there was a reason for Owen being small, and a reason for his voice. In Owen’s opinion, he had INTERRUPTED AN ANGEL, he had DISTURBED AN ANGEL AT WORK, he had UPSET THE SCHEME OF THINGS.

Related Characters: John Wheelwright (speaker), Owen Meany (speaker), John’s Mother / Tabitha Wheelwright
Related Symbols: The Baseball, The Voice
Page Number: 105
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Chapter 4 Quotes

Barb Wiggin looked at Owen as if she were revising her opinion of how “cute” he was, and the rector observed Owen with a detachment that was wholly out of character for an ex-pilot. The Rev. Mr. Wiggin, such a veteran of Christmas pageants, looked at Owen Meany with profound respect—as if he’d seen the Christ Child come and go, but never before had he encountered a little Lord Jesus who was so perfect for the part.

Related Characters: John Wheelwright (speaker), Owen Meany, Rev. Dudley Wiggin, Barb Wiggin
Page Number: 169
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Chapter 5 Quotes

“He sounds a little sicker than I had in mind,” Dan told me on our way back to town. “I may have to play the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come myself. Or maybe—if Owen’s too sick—maybe you can take the part.”

But I was just a Joseph; I felt that Owen Meany had already chosen me for the only part I could play.

Related Characters: John Wheelwright (speaker), John’s Stepfather / Dan Needham (speaker), Owen Meany
Page Number: 211
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 6 Quotes

“YOU CAN’T TAKE A MIRACLE AND JUST SHOW IT!” [Owen] said indignantly. “YOU CAN’T PROVE A MIRACLE—YOU JUST HAVE TO BELIEVE IT! IF THE RED SEA ACTUALLY PARTED, IT DIDN’T LOOK LIKE THAT,” he said. “IT DIDN’T LOOK LIKE ANYTHING—IT’S NOT A PICTURE ANYONE CAN EVEN IMAGINE!”

Related Characters: Owen Meany
Page Number: 277
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Anyone can be sentimental about the Nativity; any fool can feel like a Christian at Christmas. But Easter is the main event; if you don’t believe in the resurrection, you’re not a believer.

“IF YOU DON’T BELIEVE IN EASTER,” Owen Meany said. “DON’T KID YOURSELF—DON’T CALL YOURSELF A CHRISTIAN.”

Related Characters: John Wheelwright (speaker), Owen Meany (speaker)
Page Number: 283
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In both classes, Pastor Merrill preached his doubt-is-the-essence-of-and-not-the-opposite-of-faith philosophy; it was a point of view that interested Owen more than it had once interested him. The apparent secret was “belief without miracles”; a faith that needed a miracle was not a faith at all. Don’t ask for proof—that was Mr. Merrill’s routine message.

“BUT EVERYONE NEEDS A LITTLE PROOF,” said Owen Meany.

“Faith itself is a miracle, Owen,” said Pastor Merrill. “The first miracle that I believe in is my own faith itself.”

Related Characters: Owen Meany (speaker), Rev. Lewis Merrill (speaker)
Page Number: 314
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 7 Quotes

“IF WE CAN DO IT IN UNDER FOUR SECONDS, WE CAN DO IT IN UNDER THREE,” he said. “IT JUST TAKES A LITTLE MORE FAITH.”

“It takes more practice,” I told him irritably.

“FAITH TAKES PRACTICE,” said Owen Meany.

Related Characters: John Wheelwright (speaker), Owen Meany (speaker)
Page Number: 346-347
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I remember the independent study that Owen Meany was conducting with the Rev. Lewis Merrill in the winter term of l962. I wonder if those cheeseburgers in the Reagan administration are familiar with Isaiah 5:20. As The Voice would say: “WOE UNTO THOSE THAT CALL EVIL GOOD AND GOOD EVIL.”

Related Characters: John Wheelwright (speaker), Owen Meany (speaker), Rev. Lewis Merrill
Related Symbols: The Voice
Page Number: 402
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As always, with Owen Meany, there was the necessary consideration of the symbols involved. He had removed Mary Magdalene’s arms, above the elbows, so that her gesture of beseeching the assembled audience would seem all the more an act of supplication—and all the more helpless. Dan and I both knew that Owen suffered an obsession with armlessness—this was Watahantowet’s familiar totem, this was what Owen had done to my armadillo. My mother's dressmaker’s dummy was armless, too.

But neither Dan nor I was prepared for Mary Magdalene being headless—for her head was cleanly sawed or chiseled or blasted off.

Related Symbols: Armless Totems
Page Number: 409
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Chapter 8 Quotes

What we witnessed with the death of Kennedy was the triumph of television; what we saw with his assassination, and with his funeral, was the beginning of television’s dominance of our culture—for television is at its most solemnly self-serving and at its mesmerizing best when it is depicting the untimely deaths of the chosen and the golden. It is as witness to the butchery of heroes in their prime—and of all holy-seeming innocents— that television achieves its deplorable greatness.

Related Characters: John Wheelwright (speaker), Owen Meany
Page Number: 448
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“YOU HAVE NO DOUBT SHE’S THERE?” [Owen] nagged at me.

“Of course I have no doubt!” I said.

“BUT YOU CAN’T SEE HER—YOU COULD BE WRONG,” he said.

“No, I’m not wrong—she’s there, I know she’s there!” I yelled at him.

“YOU ABSOLUTELY KNOW SHE’S THERE—EVEN THOUGH YOU CAN’T SEE HER?” he asked me.

“Yes!” I screamed.

“WELL, NOW YOU KNOW HOW I FEEL ABOUT GOD,” said Owen Meany. “I CAN’T SEE HIM—BUT I ABSOLUTELY KNOW HE IS THERE!”

Related Characters: John Wheelwright (speaker), Owen Meany (speaker)
Related Symbols: Armless Totems
Page Number: 458
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 9 Quotes

“SINCE I DISCOVERED SEVERAL YEARS AGO, THAT I WAS LIVING IN A WORLD WHERE NOTHING BEARS OUT IN PRACTICE WHAT IT PROMISES INCIPIENTLY, I HAVE TROUBLED MYSELF VERY LITTLE ABOUT THEORIES. I AM CONTENT WITH TENTATIVENESS FROM DAY TO DAY.”

Related Characters: Owen Meany (speaker), John Wheelwright
Page Number: 528
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Because he’d wished my mother dead, my father said, God had punished him; God had taught Pastor Merrill not to trifle with prayer. And I suppose that was why it had been so difficult for Mr. Merrill to pray for Owen Meany—and why he had invited us all to offer up our silent prayers to Owen, instead of speaking out himself. And he called Mr. and Mrs. Meany “superstitious”! Look at the world: look at how many of our peerless leaders presume to tell us that they know what God wants! It’s not God who’s fucked up, it’s the screamers who say they believe in Him and who claim to pursue their ends in His holy name!

Related Symbols: The Baseball
Page Number: 554
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“YOU’RE MY BEST FRIEND,” said Owen Meany—his voice breaking a little. I assumed it was the telephone; I thought we had a bad connection.

Related Characters: John Wheelwright (speaker), Owen Meany (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Voice
Page Number: 589
Explanation and Analysis:
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“THAT IS WHERE THIS COUNTRY IS HEADED—IT IS HEADED TOWARD OVERSIMPLIFICATION. YOU WANT TO SEE A PRESIDENT OF THE FUTURE? TURN ON ANY TELEVISION ON ANY SUNDAY MORNING—FIND ONE OF THOSE HOLY ROLLERS: THAT’S HIM, THAT’S THE NEW MISTER PRESIDENT! AND DO YOU WANT TO SEE THE FUTURE OF ALL THOSE KIDS WHO ARE GOING TO FALL IN THE CRACKS OF THIS GREAT, BIG, SLOPPY SOCIETY OF OURS? I JUST MET HIM; HE’S A TALL, SKINNY, FIFTEEN-YEAR-OLD BOY NAMED ‘DICK.’ HE’S PRETTY SCARY. WHAT’S WRONG WITH HIM IS NOT UNLIKE WHAT’S WRONG WITH THE TV EVANGELIST—OUR FUTURE PRESIDENT. WHAT’S WRONG WITH BOTH OF THEM IS THAT THEY’RE SO SURE THEY’RE RIGHT! THAT’S PRETTY SCARY.”

Related Characters: Owen Meany (speaker), Dick Jarvits
Page Number: 613-614
Explanation and Analysis:
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When we held Owen Meany above our heads, when we passed him back and forth—so effortlessly—we believed that Owen weighed nothing at all. We did not realize that there were forces beyond our play. Now I know they were the forces that contributed to our illusion of Owen's weightlessness; they were the forces we didn’t have the faith to feel, they were the forces we failed to believe in—and they were also lifting up Owen Meany, taking him out of our hands.

O God—please give him back! I shall keep asking You.

Related Characters: John Wheelwright (speaker), Owen Meany, Mary Beth Baird
Related Symbols: Weightlessness
Page Number: 627
Explanation and Analysis:
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Owen Meany Character Timeline in A Prayer for Owen Meany

The timeline below shows where the character Owen Meany appears in A Prayer for Owen Meany. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1: The Foul Ball
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John Wheelwright believes he is “doomed” never to forget Owen Meany, an extremely small boy with a broken voice who killed John’s mother and is... (full context)
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...faith—the kind that needs patching up every weekend.” His limited faith only exists because of Owen Meany. (full context)
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John recalls how as children, he and his peers would take advantage of Owen’s miniature size to entertain themselves during Sunday school. Owen was such a small child that... (full context)
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Owen’s unusually slight stature was a great contrast to his family’s business, which was mining granite... (full context)
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Owen also had an underdeveloped or damaged voice, perhaps a side effect of breathing in so... (full context)
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...smoking, and had to take smoke breaks. While she was gone, the class would grab Owen and pass him overhead around the room, never dropping him. (full context)
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Owen’s tie would often become untucked from his trousers, and his loose change and baseball cards... (full context)
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While Owen loved baseball, he was not a good player. He was too small to swing at... (full context)
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Owen was fast, so he was inserted as a pinch runner, too. But he was afraid... (full context)
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“PUT ME DOWN! YOU ASSHOLES!” Owen would shout in his falsetto voice. But the class ignored him, and would resort to... (full context)
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Owen was also lifted up and hung by his collar on coatracks and in his gym... (full context)
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...still carried weight at the time. His type of family was not typically sympathetic to Owen’s type of family, the Meanys. John’s family was matriarchal because his grandfather died young, leaving... (full context)
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After John’s mother died, Owen and John talked about the unsolved mystery of his father. They skipped rocks while they... (full context)
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...lumber. John’s uncle, Alfred Eastman, was in the lumber business. He married John’s aunt, Martha. Owen Meany’s family was in the granite business. Harriet Wheelwright believed that lumber was a clean... (full context)
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Owen read the book History of Gravesend when he was very young, and told John that... (full context)
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...brick house. The house included a secret passageway to a separate basement. John purposefully scared Owen down there, and Owen’s peculiar voice made his fear very memorable. Harriet was very disturbed... (full context)
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...Harriet grew older and began losing her memory, she never forgot the disturbing sound of Owen’s piercing voice. (full context)
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Owen’s working-class Irish family came to New Hampshire from Boston. The local kids could swim in... (full context)
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John and Owen both joined the Episcopal Church after leaving the Congregational Church and the Catholic Church, respectively.... (full context)
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John reflects that he partially took pleasure from manhandling Owen during Sunday school because he was resentful that Owen had a much stronger religious faith... (full context)
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Owen took everything very seriously, and was insulted by jokes. He read the whole Bible, and... (full context)
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Mrs. Meany can’t take Owen to school because she never goes outdoors, and never even opens the windows; Owen says... (full context)
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Gravesend Academy was an extremely old institution, founded in 1781. John’s mother secretly visited Owen’s parents to convince them to allow Owen to go there—Owen could smell her perfume after... (full context)
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Owen had a crush on John’s mother, who couldn’t resist touching Owen. Owen tells John that... (full context)
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Owen and John were eleven when John’s mother died. It was summer, and they were growing... (full context)
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After letting the first two pitches go, Owen hit the third ball foul, and it struck John’s mother in the head, killing her... (full context)
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Owen fled the game after apologizing to John for hitting the ball, and everyone later assumed... (full context)
Chapter 2: The Armadillo
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Owen once told John, “YOUR MOTHER IS SO SEXY, I KEEP FORGETTING SHE’S ANYBODY’S MOTHER.” Indeed,... (full context)
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...just discarded her inhibitions on the train, since she met both of her lovers there. Owen tells him he’s being absurd, and nothing happens to his mother on trains. The story... (full context)
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...as a dramatic prop, and he gave it to John as a present. John and Owen both loved it, and liked to scare each other with it. (full context)
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Even after John tells Owen about how “physically damaging and psychologically upsetting” his visits to his cousins are, Owen seems... (full context)
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Owen becomes very attached to John’s stuffed armadillo, and asks if he can take care of... (full context)
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The night before Owen comes over, he calls John to check in. One more time, they go over everything... (full context)
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When Owen arrives, he is reluctant to announce himself and give a bad first impression with his... (full context)
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 The Eastmans are so unsettled that they don’t think of harming Owen, as John had feared. They don’t want Owen to catch cold outside, so they decide... (full context)
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John and Tabitha drive after Owen, and find him pushing his bike up the hill, wet and cold and embarrassed. He’s... (full context)
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Tabitha stops driving to give Owen a hug and a kiss, and she promises him that he can always come with... (full context)
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Owen stays the night at John’s, and remarks how it’s difficult to go to sleep without... (full context)
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The morning after Tabitha died, Owen deposits a few big boxes at their door. The boxes contain Owen’s entire baseball card... (full context)
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Owen returns the armadillo to John after removing its front claws so that it can no... (full context)
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Later, Owen would tell John what else he meant to communicate through the armless armadillo: “GOD HAS... (full context)
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Owen had strong doubts all along about the rationale behind going to war in Vietnam. He... (full context)
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John says that Owen kept him out of Vietnam, which he’s very grateful for. In fact, John believes that... (full context)
Chapter 3: The Angel
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John and Owen liked to play dress-up with the dummy and Tabitha’s clothes. She was practical, and only... (full context)
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One night, Owen was sleeping over at the Wheelwrights’ when he woke up feeling very ill with a... (full context)
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John thinks that this angel sighting was just a feverish  hallucination that Owen believed was real. He became irritated when Owen later suggested that the baseball that killed... (full context)
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...scold her for leaving the light and the water on in the bathroom when getting Owen’s aspirin. Owen woke up and mistook Harriet for another deadly angel, letting out such a... (full context)
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...her old routine. John wondered if Tabitha’s singing teacher could have been her lover, but Owen insisted that it wouldn’t have made sense for her to keep seeing him. (full context)
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...was the problem—that Dan wouldn’t marry Tabitha until she told him who John’s father was—but Owen argued that Dan would never have forced Tabitha to tell him anything she didn’t want... (full context)
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Owen disapproved of what he considered to be Merrill’s overly intellectual approach to faith, arguing, “IF... (full context)
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...to stand guard so she could squat in the bushes. She gave her underwear to Owen to hold and keep dry while she went. (full context)
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For a wedding present, Owen made the couple an abiding memento cut from his father’s finest granite: a brick-shaped marker... (full context)
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Owen playfully refused to give Hester her panties back for the rest of the party. She... (full context)
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...present, Coach Chickering is dying of Alzheimer’s. He occasionally remembers John and says things like “Owen’s batting for you, Johnny!” and “You don’t want to see her, Johnny.” At Tabitha’s funeral,... (full context)
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...present at Tabitha’s funeral—although he “should have been,” since he was the player who brought Owen up to bat when he should have been out on an easy grounder. But John... (full context)
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...off scot-free, either,” one could say. If Buzzy was judged for reaching base and allowing Owen to come up to the plate when he should have gotten out, he received his... (full context)
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...also at Tabitha’s funeral, still on the lookout for the stolen ball. Pike stared at Owen throughout the whole funeral, suspecting him of possessing the ball. Just like at the wedding,... (full context)
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...walk with John, alone. She holds John’s hand as they walk and tells him that Owen feels worse than he does. They walk to the cemetery, where Mr. Meany sits in... (full context)
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John and Hester walk into the cemetery to find Owen praying over Tabitha’s grave. When John calls his name, Owen thinks God is speaking to... (full context)
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Owen says he’ll keep the dummy with him, since Dan, John, and Harriet shouldn’t have it... (full context)
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...Bible proves unsatisfactory that day. Canon Mackie reads Matthew’s Beatitudes, which always troubled John and Owen. Statements like “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted” strike John as... (full context)
Chapter 4: The Little Lord Jesus 
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...together at Sawyer Depot without Tabitha, her loss will be too painfully apparent. John and Owen occupy themselves over break by using Dan’s master dorm key to infiltrate the students’ rooms... (full context)
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...rehearsing with the Gravesend Players for their annual production of A Christmas Carol. Dan wanted Owen to play Tiny Tim, but Owen refused to play another “cute” part—he is already forced... (full context)
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Owen also complains that whoever plays Joseph, Jesus’s father, always smirks obnoxiously throughout the show, while... (full context)
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Harriet tends to get cranky when Owen and John play at her house, so they would rather spend their days at Dan’s... (full context)
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...Brinker-Smith brought Ginger into his biology class to demonstrate nursing in mammals—an “eye-opening” illustration that Owen and John are extremely sad to have missed. During Christmas break, they often linger around... (full context)
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Owen and John let themselves into the students’ rooms and go through all their belongings. Owen... (full context)
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Owen is preoccupied with determining whether or not an occupant is “happy.” He imagines that the... (full context)
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The older boys’ rooms show John and Owen what awaits them in adolescence—secrets, messiness, lust. In one room, they find condoms, also known... (full context)
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At the first rehearsal for the Christmas pageant, Owen instigates another religious rebellion. He begins by refusing to play the Announcing Angel anymore, and... (full context)
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Barb Wiggin is quite angry that Owen is upending all of her plans for the pageant. He doesn’t make it easy for... (full context)
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Finally, Owen brings up the Christ Child and the ridiculous spectacle of the adults handing the babies... (full context)
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Owen continues to get his way in subsequent rehearsals for the pageant, scrapping the confining crib... (full context)
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...role as Announcing Angel; scared of heights, he can’t concentrate and always forgets his lines. Owen objects to having his arms trapped in the “swaddling clothes,” so only his torso, chest,... (full context)
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When Mary Beth bows over Owen, he raises his hand over her head in a blessing. The image they make is... (full context)
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Years ago, Mr. Fish had a dog named Sagamore. One September day, he convinced Owen and John to play football with him. The boys only liked to see Sagamore lunge... (full context)
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That day, Owen managed to punt the ball high out of the yard and into the street. Chasing... (full context)
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Owen was the one who found the words: “I AM THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE […]... (full context)
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In the Christmas of 1953, John says he was mostly unaware of Owen’s orchestrations. He couldn’t tell if the Meanys celebrated Christmas—they had no decorations except for a... (full context)
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Mr. Meany is pleasant whenever John stops by with Owen, but Mrs. Meany only stares into the distance, or into the fireplace. When John mentions... (full context)
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John goes back inside to get his hat. In Owen’s room, he finds Mrs. Meany sitting on Owen’s bed, staring at Tabitha’s dummy. Without looking... (full context)
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...she in’t very bright or self-assured. Unlike Lydia, she is no fun for John and Owen to scare. The second maid is named Germaine, and she is young, extremely timid, and... (full context)
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Unlike Ethel, Germaine makes a great target for John and Owen to scare, and they frequently do. She is superstitious, and Owen’s size and voice disturbs... (full context)
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Germaine, overhearing, counters that Owen’s voice comes from the Devil. Harriet says both ideas are nonsense—Owen’s voice surely comes from... (full context)
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One afternoon when John and Owen are exploring a room on the second floor of the dorm, they hear another master... (full context)
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Standing behind Owen, Harriet thinks that nothing is scarier than the future, or someone who knows it. The... (full context)
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Dan is initially skeptical, but Owen convinces him to let him rehearse that afternoon and test the reactions of the cast.... (full context)
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Mr. Fish is leaving just as Owen arrives at the door, and he steps out just as Owen is reaching to ring... (full context)
Chapter 5: The Ghost of the Future 
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Owen has established himself as a prophet—one who knows the future, and can even orchestrate it... (full context)
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Mr. Morrison would surely also wish for Owen’s presence to be somewhat diminished—he is upset to hear what a terrific splash Owen has... (full context)
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Owen gets a curtain call all to himself on Saturday night, and a girl faints when... (full context)
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That Sunday, the day of the church Christmas pageant, Owen arrives at Harriet’s house layered in winter clothes, including a “lucky” scarf that Tabitha once... (full context)
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The Wiggins are outside the church with the Merrills. Barb hurries Owen inside to be wrapped in his swaddling clothes while the Merrills look scandalized to hear... (full context)
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When Owen is finally wrapped to his satisfaction, Barb has to carry him over to the manger,... (full context)
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However, Owen miraculously recovers his composure and controls his erection. As Barb mans the controls that raise... (full context)
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...cow to butt a shepherd off the stage. Mary Beth throws herself on top of Owen, who is not strong enough to push her off—he can only prod her off by... (full context)
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Owen abruptly sits up in the hay and points into the crowd, yelling, “WHAT DO YOU... (full context)
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...of 1953, the old idyllic vision of Christ’s birth was replaced by the memory of Owen Meany angrily banishing his parents from church, then lying stiffly swaddled across their laps like... (full context)
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Mr. Fish is impressed by the drama of the Nativity—he thinks Owen’s improvisations are part of the biblical account. When John goes to gather his and Owen’s... (full context)
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Barb grabs John as he finally leaves with Owen’s clothes and shakes him, ordering him to tell Owen that he must come see her... (full context)
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...hanging twenty feet about a concrete floor. He tells her that she will not give Owen any ultimatums—Owen is welcome in the church anytime, without her permission, and if the rector... (full context)
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John goes backstage to see Owen, who is so feverish that he barely needs his makeup to look ghastly. On his... (full context)
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John watches the audience until Owen comes on stage, and he sees their faces transformed by fear. Owen’s cough is not... (full context)
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Merrill drives Owen home and drops John off at Harriet’s house. He seems to believe that Owen had... (full context)
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Harriet imagines that Owen had somehow foreseen Lydia’s death and mistaken it for his own. Germaine agrees, saying that... (full context)
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...and taking advantage of her distraught state. He says that he believes her about hearing Owen’s scream, and takes her hand between the beds. But she is soon asleep, and he... (full context)
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John goes into the kitchen to call Owen. He tells Owen everything that he realized that night about his father, and Owen agrees... (full context)
Chapter 6: The Voice 
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John and Owen didn’t know what would be on TV—they were only familiar with the films shown in... (full context)
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Harriet and Owen both appreciate one show, at least—The Liberace Show, featuring the flamboyant piano prodigy Liberace. John... (full context)
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John still thinks it’s absurd for Owen, who thinks he’s so smart, to adore Liberace, but Dan reminds him that Owen is... (full context)
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Owen and Harriet bond over their love for Liberace and their disdain for everything else, and... (full context)
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...of his classes. The Eastmans decide to take a relaxing Caribbean vacation over Christmas, leaving Owen disappointed by yet another lost opportunity to see Sawyer Depot. (full context)
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Owen has become disenchanted with Christmas pageantry, and religious pageantry in general, after the disastrous pageant... (full context)
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Owen is afraid of nuns. Ironically for such an unusual boy, he thinks they are “UNNATURAL”—but... (full context)
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Owen and John continue trying to solve the mystery of John’s father by watching the crowds... (full context)
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...John is disappointed not to see more of Hester, whom he has un-cousinly feelings for. Owen tells him that Hester is probably too dangerous for him, but she would probably consider... (full context)
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...became involved with a native boatman the previous year. They still don’t invite John and Owen to Sawyer Depot, to the boys’ regret. They’re both fifteen, and slightly in love with... (full context)
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...in a way—they both have a gift for sarcasm and diction. He thinks Harriet and Owen would have liked Katherine. He says the Sunday boarders’ lunches are an important ritual to... (full context)
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...bright light from inside the dark tomb where Jesus’s body once lay. John thinks of Owen when he says to Katherine, “He is risen.” (full context)
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In the summer of 1958, Owen and John turn sixteen and get their drivers licenses. Owen gets his license first, because... (full context)
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In the evenings, Owen drives Mr. Meany’s tomato-red pickup truck down to the boardwalk at Hampton Beach with John.... (full context)
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The boardwalk girls may have ignored them, but John notices that women find Owen attractive. He has a confidence borne from earning his way in the world, and from... (full context)
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In the fall of 1958, when John and Owen finally start at Gravesend Academy, Owen looks especially sophisticated in the clothes Harriet had bought... (full context)
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Gravesend students embrace The Voice as a new institution—Owen is their voice, speaking up for their causes, asserting their dignity in an environment where... (full context)
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That spring, Owen dares to invite Hester to the senior ball as a freshman. He had sent her... (full context)
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Other boys brag about their sexual escapades, but Owen does not. Noah and Simon assume Hester had slept with him—“Hester fucks everybody!” Simon claims—but... (full context)
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...the faculty object to this, but the faculty adviser to The Grave, Mr. Early, supports Owen. The current headmaster, Archibald Thorndike, also supports Owen, calling him “a delightful little fella” and... (full context)
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Over the summer, John gives tours of the school while Owen returns to the quarries. Owen doesn’t talk about Hester, but he is able to score... (full context)
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...violations like the Iran-Contra affair. Toronto is rejoicing in the sunshine, but John remembers that Owen hated the spring—it meant school was almost over, and he would be going back to... (full context)
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Owen had written a bunch of essays over the summer about the ongoing search for a... (full context)
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Thorny warns Owen that he’s making enemies, and he should be careful not to give them any way... (full context)
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Owen and John have plenty of time to practice over Christmas, as the Eastmans continue to... (full context)
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...his past and ongoing psychological traumas, no matter how much John insists that he loves Owen and forgives him for the accident, and loves his stepfather and grandmother and doesn’t mind... (full context)
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...replacement. Merrill had to teach the school’s religion classes, where he preached his “doubt-is-the-essence-of-faith-and-not-the-opposite-of-faith philosophy.” Owen is intrigued by the idea of “belief without miracles.” He protests to Merrill, “BUT EVERYONE... (full context)
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...with Kierkegaard, who said that faith “is the greatest and most difficult of all things.” Owen defends Merrill’s ideas to the rest of the class: “JUST BECAUSE A BUNCH OF ATHEISTS... (full context)
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...he’s sure they haven’t been reading it very carefully. Then he remembers that he and Owen first read the book in Mr. Early’s tenth grade class, when the book shouldn’t have... (full context)
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Owen was willing to even read the book aloud to him if that would help, but... (full context)
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...families from moving in. White is the only candidate who wouldn’t accept an interview with Owen when he came to visit the school. Education was White’s second career, after running a... (full context)
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Owen predicted the trustees would pick White, also being businessmen. They like decision-makers, and don’t care... (full context)
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...Gatsby—saying that the Reagan administration demonstrated “an urban distaste for the concrete.” He remembers when Owen taught him how to read better by showing him how to write a complete term... (full context)
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In the summer of 1960, John and Owen turned eighteen, and they swam in the quarry lake without a rope. They registered for... (full context)
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...didn’t bring up aid for the contras with the King of Saudi Arabia. Harriet gave Owen a diary for Christmas in 1960—he called her his “BENEFACTOR.” That fall, Owen had been... (full context)
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Owen organizes a mock election for the student body, and he is a big JFK supporter,... (full context)
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After receiving the diary for Christmas, Owen begins to write in it every night. He writes furiously the night after President Kennedy’s... (full context)
Chapter 7: The Dream 
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When Owen and John were seniors, practicing the shot in the school gymnasium, Owen finally tells him... (full context)
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That fall, John only applies to the University of New Hampshire, while Owen applies to Harvard and Yale. The University of New Hampshire gives Owen an Honor Society... (full context)
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After their disagreement, Owen and John finally manage to make the basketball shot in under four seconds. Owen immediately... (full context)
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Owen doesn’t drink, and he won’t make fake draft cards anymore, having become self-righteous and law-abiding... (full context)
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Once Owen and John get to the store, they see that Tabitha had lied about it burning... (full context)
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Next Owen takes John to the office of Tabitha’s singing teacher, Graham McSwiney, who gave Owen an... (full context)
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Owen refuses, saying, “IF GOD GAVE ME THIS VOICE, HE HAD A REASON.” John asks McSwiney... (full context)
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...John’s father—he once tried to make a pass at Tabitha, but she turned him down. Owen says once again that God will tell John who his father is. McSwiney reassures them... (full context)
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In 1961, John and Owen still scanned the audiences at Dan’s shows to find John’s father. Now they imagine that... (full context)
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Owen wants to go to the gym and practice their basketball shot, but John doesn’t want... (full context)
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On January 1, 1962, Owen wrote in his diary, “I know I am God’s instrument.” John still didn’t understand the... (full context)
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...“excessive partying and expensive sex.” Larry’s mother told him about JFK and Marilyn Monroe, which Owen calls “A TRULY TASTELESS LIE.” Larry says that Owen can ask his mother himself when... (full context)
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Owen is very disturbed all week by this rumor—he idolizes JFK, and John says he wasn’t... (full context)
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Owen doesn’t believe the president is above the law—the president is supposed to set the example... (full context)
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...Larry told everyone all about his mother—he thought she was a joke. But John and Owen are very intimidated by her, and feel very provincial in her presence. (full context)
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...brings Mitzy to confirm the rumor about JFK and Marilyn Monroe. She seems to enjoy Owen’s distress at the news; like Barb, she bullied young men. To her and her son,... (full context)
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But Owen won’t stand to be bullied or taken lightly—he says to Mitzy, “IF YOU WANTED TO... (full context)
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Mitzy apparently told White that Owen said something anti-Semitic to her, but Owen hadn’t even known she was Jewish. In a... (full context)
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Owen is put on probation for the rest of the winter term, as Dan suggested. But... (full context)
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...lackey against blind devotion to the president’s agenda than with reprimanding the president himself. Whenever Owen got wind of such a bunch of bullshit, he would echo Harriet and declare: “THAT’S... (full context)
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Owen would say that about his bi-weekly sessions with Dr. Dolder—“MADE FOR TELEVISION.” He wouldn’t tell... (full context)
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...barber has no clue what he’s talking about, and John despairs at humanity’s short memory. Owen remembered everything, he says. (full context)
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In February 1962, the winter term was nearly over. Owen was tired of getting up early in the dark, freezing mornings to go fulfill his... (full context)
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...get back behind the wheel, but he loves his car too much to risk it. Owen is sitting in his truck fuming when he sees the basketball team walking towards the... (full context)
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Owen bets the players that they can’t pick up the Beetle in the driveway, but they... (full context)
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When Dan gets White’s call and sees Owen’s car outside his dorm, he realizes who is probably behind the prank. White suspects Owen,... (full context)
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...hasn’t been to church in a month, too preoccupied with the news. He remembers what Owen and Rev. Merrill used to say: “WOE UNTO THEM THAT CALL EVIL GOOD AND GOOD... (full context)
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Merrill was the first person after John to ask Owen if he had been involved with moving the car onstage. Once Owen confirms that their... (full context)
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...against its students for possessing illegal fake IDs. The student who produced and sold the IDs—Owen—will be brought before the Executive Committee, while everyone possessing a draft card will be on... (full context)
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Owen refuses to talk to anybody afterwards, until he calls Harriet to apologize for letting her... (full context)
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...of your life.” Dan and John worry about what this latest vandalism will mean for Owen’s college acceptances, and how the head of St. Michael’s will react. They go to see... (full context)
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...the head of St. Michael’s Church and School is Father Findley. He doesn’t know what Owen has done, but Owen asks him to say a prayer for him at that morning’s... (full context)
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...expects to lead a triumphant morning assembly, believing that he’s finally gotten the better of Owen. Little does he know that Owen will eventually defeat him, and that what awaits him... (full context)
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...the college admissions of seniors they’ve expelled. White goes to the schools that had accepted Owen and tells them about Owen’s record of selling fake draft cards, as well as his... (full context)
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Findley apparently knew Owen’s family, and was very sympathetic when he recognized who Owen’s parents were, without saying why.... (full context)
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In ROTC, the U.S. Army will pay for Owen to go to college while he takes some military courses and attends Basic Training while... (full context)
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Dan and John wonder how Owen passed the height and weight requirement. Owen proudly informs them that he only had to... (full context)
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...didn’t know how to pray better back then. He wishes he could have prayed for Owen knowing what he knows now, such as what Owen wrote in his diary. He later... (full context)
Chapter 8: The Finger 
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...by himself, couldn’t afford a car, and couldn’t get a girl to sleep with him. Owen, who knew when he would die, wasn’t in any rush to grow up. They spent... (full context)
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Owen shared Hester’s sense of unfairness and injustice. He believed that God had designated him for... (full context)
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...nearly ruined the land. He thinks back to the summer of 1962, when he and Owen sent each other letters talking about their jobs and their plans to perfect the shot. (full context)
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...from the glass. He tells them that Marilyn Monroe died of an overdose. John calls Owen that night, and Owen says that Marilyn “WAS JUST LIKE OUR WHOLE COUNTRY…VERY BEAUTIFUL, MAYBE... (full context)
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Back in July in Canada, John is still reading the newspapers. Owen believed that the most discouraging thing about the anti-war protests was that most of the... (full context)
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In the fall of 1962, John and Owen became freshmen at the University of New Hampshire. They still lived at home. Compared to... (full context)
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Owen doesn’t stand out in the large student body at the university like he always did... (full context)
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A guy who wants to date Hester asks Owen how he knows there isn’t going to be a war, and Owen says there will... (full context)
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John is jealous of Owen’s tan and muscles, and suspects Owen of interfering with his plan to grow his own... (full context)
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...light-years away from Earth. John thinks, “That is about as far away from Earth as Owen Meany is; that is about as far away from Earth as I would like to... (full context)
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...the golden.” Bobby Kennedy’s assassination follows five years later. Hester says, “Television gives good disaster.” Owen goes to see Rev. Merrill more after Kennedy’s death. He still won’t tell John about... (full context)
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Owen says he’s been talking to Father Findley and working on replacing the statue of Mary... (full context)
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That summer, a new statue of Mary Magdalene is finally installed at St. Michaels. Owen successfully got rid of the archway, leaving the statue alone on a pedestal. The statue... (full context)
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...has is a car that was used even before her two brothers drove it, so Owen picks her up after her shifts, which usually end late at night. The late nights... (full context)
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In the summer of 1964, John agrees to keep practicing the shot if Owen will finally let him work in the quarries for the last month of the summer.... (full context)
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...fall, the darker gray color of the statue disappears in the shadows. John once asked Owen if the statue resembled the angel Owen once thought he saw. Owen says no, because... (full context)
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...folk songs and protest songs, the beards and long hair, the free love. Knowing that Owen sacrificed and suffered so much more than these hippies, he was not sympathetic to their... (full context)
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...his old ones. He looks down on protestors for having it so much easier than Owen and the soldiers who actually fought and died. Hester was big on protests and hippie... (full context)
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...Vietnam was becoming problematic. The military began “BOMBING THE SHIT” out of North Vietnam, in Owen’s translation of military-ese, then began to “SEARCH AND DESTROY, SEARCH AND DESTROY.” Owen observed that... (full context)
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Owen’s Military Science professor thinks that Owen is too small for a combat branch, and Owen... (full context)
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Owen responds to the professor’s doubts in him by giving up smoking and taking up running.... (full context)
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...policy, but he thinks that Hester’s crowd are “losers and jerks.” He doesn’t understand why Owen, always quick to call bullshit, wants to go to Vietnam so desperately. “Did he want... (full context)
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Owen is told in the fall that he is destined for the Adjunct General’s Corps—not a... (full context)
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...to find a way to get out of going to Vietnam—to do the opposite of Owen, for once. “This time Owen is making a mistake,” Dan says. (full context)
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Everyone thinks Owen is crazy for chasing a combat-branch assignment. John asks him why he wants to be... (full context)
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While Owen and John argue, Hester is cooking dinner, which John says is always carelessly prepared and... (full context)
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John prompts Owen to explain the dream. Owen says he saves Vietnamese children, not soldiers, in his dream—he... (full context)
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Owen continues describing his vision, saying that nuns appear and one of them takes him into... (full context)
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John says again that it’s just a dream. He points out that Owen’s touchy feelings about Catholicism are probably the reason he imagines a nun as his personal... (full context)
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John and Owen go to the breakwater and Rye Harbor, then to the ER so Owen can get... (full context)
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Owen and John stay up watching a movie that reminds John of the Orange Grove. John... (full context)
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Owen and John try to plan a trip for the summer—John isn’t working before he starts... (full context)
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The night before Gravesend Academy’s graduation, Owen recites his old valedictorian speech to the empty chairs lined up on the lawn. He... (full context)
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After spending a night with the Eastmans, John and Owen stay in the boathouse at Loveless Lake, then camp at Lake Francis. Before returning to... (full context)
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...slob; she keeps the apartment very neat, and “it was only herself she treated carelessly.” Owen seems to really like his fort in Arizona, although he’s still gunning for a transfer... (full context)
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Owen comes home for Christmas and he tells John and Hester about his work. He and... (full context)
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John says he wants to keep being a student, and become a teacher. Owen says he had better find the courage to do something now, because courage won’t help... (full context)
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John gets told to report to his pre-induction physical. He calls Owen, who tells him not to report for anything until he gets there. Owen comes back... (full context)
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Owen says that the safest thing to do is to remove John’s trigger finger, and John... (full context)
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Owen tells John to scrub his hand and rub it with alcohol, and they’ll be at... (full context)
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John puts his finger on the chopping block, and Owen puts on his safety goggles. He tells John to look him in the eyes so... (full context)
Chapter 9: The Shot
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Hester has stayed virginal to the memory of Owen Meany—he was the love of her life, and she never became as seriously involved with... (full context)
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John thinks Owen would have scoffed at Hester’s music videos. Hester wears lots of crucifixes—she likes them or... (full context)
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...hand” that guides his hand to the light switch and pulls him forward. He hears Owen’s voice saying, “DON’T BE AFRAID. NOTHING BAD IS GOING TO HAPPEN TO YOU.” When Dan... (full context)
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The summer of 1967, John’s finger was healing. Owen was promoted to first lieutenant. He helped John start his Master’s thesis on Thomas Hardy,... (full context)
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...Meanwhile, Dan tries to convince him to forgive and forget, and come home already. Even Owen wouldn’t blame the whole country for what happened to him. (full context)
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...Mr. McSwiney, who also told him to forget about it. McSwiney told him again that Owen should go see a doctor—there wasn’t any good reason not to fix his voice. In... (full context)
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...faith; one has to already have faith to believe in true miracles. He agrees that Owen was very gifted, and very emotional. He believes that Owen experienced some disturbing visions, but... (full context)
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...couch where Hester once laid down while John, Noah and Simon searched the house for Owen. He finds a baseball card under the couch cushions and realizes that Owen had been... (full context)
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...forward to catching her off guard with his missing index finger. It’s not grotesque-looking, since Owen made the cleanest cut possible. The only thing wrong with the hand, and the only... (full context)
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At the end of the summer of 1967, Hester tells Owen she won’t go to his funeral. She says she’ll do anything—get married, move to Arizona,... (full context)
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Hester and John attend an anti-war march in Washington fifty-thousand people strong. She questions why Owen didn’t also cut off his own finger and save himself, if he’s so smart. John... (full context)
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...rather than end the war. Either way, it did not end soon enough to save Owen. He was placed in a closed casket, draped with a U.S. flag with his medal... (full context)
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Owen’s funeral was held in the summer of 1968, not long after Martin Luther King, Jr.... (full context)
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Mr. Meany says the baseball was never there—he looked for it in Owen’s room for years, and never found it. John unpacks Owen’s duffel bag for his family.... (full context)
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...the experience due to trauma or mental disability. Mr. Meany believed his wife had conceived Owen as a virgin, like Jesus’s mother Mary, but none of the Catholic priests believed him.... (full context)
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...their ignorance. He thinks of them as “monsters of superstition,” and “dupes.” He feels that Owen has been used cruelly both by ignorance and by design, and that Mrs. Meany should... (full context)
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Owen didn’t see much of Hester that Christmas. Her refusal to attend his funeral seemed to... (full context)
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...and Mrs. Meany is likely mentally disabled, and he shares John’s horror that they told Owen their belief when he was still so young and impressionable. He says that Owen talked... (full context)
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Owen did believe that everything that happened to him had a purpose, that he was picked... (full context)
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...heart to a new manifestation of God’s will. In Merrill’s vestry office, John suddenly feels Owen near. Merrill turns on the lamp and opens his mouth without speaking, choking on his... (full context)
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This was the first time Owen spoke to John from the beyond, the second being when he saved John in the... (full context)
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...help you restore your faith.” He feels “moved to do evil,” and he recalls how Owen warned him that his father would disappoint him. (full context)
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...married. Dan says he thought that John had insisted on changing churches to be with Owen. Dan’s actually a Presbyterian. Tabitha lied to them. John asks Dan why he and Tabitha... (full context)
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John drives to Owen’s house and picks up his mother’s dummy, still wearing her red dress. He places the... (full context)
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...dummy and the baseball and drives to Rye Harbor, where he used to sit with Owen. He throws the baseball into the harbor, along with Mary Magdalene’s arms. He climbs out... (full context)
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...rise over the harbor, and then returns to Hester’s apartment to shower and dress for Owen’s funeral. He hasn’t seen Hester since they watched Bobby Kennedy’s assassination together on Harriet’s television:... (full context)
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In the margin of one page, Owen wrote, “THIRD DRAWER, RIGHT-HAND SIDE.” He must have seen the baseball the day that he... (full context)
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...plans to go next. Then he goes to Dan’s apartment to get the granite doorstep Owen carved as a wedding gift for him and Tabitha. He also tells Dan his plans,... (full context)
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...there; the Wiggins are not. A unit of the New Hampshire National Guard serves as Owen’s honor guard. Owen’s favorite professor of Military Science from the University of New Hampshire is... (full context)
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...stained-glass windows made by John’s baseball, reflecting against the medal pinned to the flag on Owen’s casket. Mr. Meany and Mrs. Meany stare at the medal and the casket as if... (full context)
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...word he uttered.” He reads multiple moving passages from the Bible, and says, “Compared to Owen Meany, I am an amateur—in my faith.” He admits that he wonders at times if... (full context)
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When Merrill is done, the honor guard folds Owen’s flag and hands it to Mr. Meany and Mrs. Meany. The recessional hymn is the... (full context)
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...doesn’t recognize her, until she asks him if he remembers how they used to lift Owen up. It’s Mary Beth Baird, who got pregnant in high school and dropped out to... (full context)
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...if he’s a draft dodger. He lands in Toronto purely by chance. He thinks that Owen must have been so let down to learn that John’s mysterious father was merely “an... (full context)
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...doesn’t hate Merrill, but he doesn’t care about him much. He hasn’t seen him since Owen’s funeral. Dan says he’s a great preacher now, without a trace of his former stutter.... (full context)
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Owen taught John to keep a diary, which is much less interesting than Owen’s own. One... (full context)
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John sees Mr. Meany still wearing Owen’s medal, which survived when the flag burned. He thinks of Hardy’s quote about “living in... (full context)
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...she won’t marry or start a family with anyone if she can’t do so with Owen. Late that night, Owen calls, saying there’s an emergency with a missing body they just... (full context)
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...it’s a long way to go for a few days, but he agrees to join Owen, who sounds agitated. He thinks Owen needs the company, since they haven’t seen each other... (full context)
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John waits for Owen’s plane with the family of the fallen soldier. An Army officer is standing with them,... (full context)
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Owen writes in his diary on the plane to Phoenix. He thought he would die in... (full context)
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Owen wonders if the date—and everything else—was just a figment of his imagination. He wonders how... (full context)
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On the runway, Owen formally covers the casket with a flag. A hearse takes the coffin away. The family... (full context)
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Owen interrupts, telling the boy he likes his bayonet sheath. The family is frozen by Owen’s... (full context)
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In the major’s car, John and Owen can finally greet each other. The major, whose name is Rawls, explains that the family... (full context)
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Rawls offers to find John and Owen dates or show them where to buy porn while they’re in town, but Owen says... (full context)
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Owen, John, and Rawls head to the family’s ongoing wake, which Rawls treats like a spectacle.... (full context)
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Inside the house, Owen asks the girl where her brother is and what his name is, so he can... (full context)
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...sometimes the police confiscate them and give them back on the same day. Rawls tells Owen that Dick is beyond saving, but Owen says, “IT’S NOT UP TO US: WHO’S BEYOND... (full context)
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The next day, Owen writes in his diary about his fear for the future of kids like Dick who... (full context)
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Rawls drives John and Owen to the airport in the morning. He waits with them for their flights, since he... (full context)
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One of the nuns asks Owen to help take the boys to the bathroom. He says he’d be happy to help,... (full context)
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...in the door, holding a grenade. A boy screams and the others begin to cry. Owen speaks to them in Vietnamese: “DOONG SA…DON’T BE AFRAID.” Hearing their own language—in the voice... (full context)
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...draws his bayonet, but Rawls grabs Dick’s machete and breaks Dick’s neck with it. Meanwhile, Owen soars toward the high window. He stuffs the grenade into the windowsill and holds it... (full context)
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...ledge protects John and the children from the grenade fragments. Only their eardrums are hurt. Owen lands in the big industrial sink. A nun lifts him out of the sink while... (full context)
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Owen tells the nun, “WHOSOEVER LIVETH AND BELIEVETH IN ME SHALL NEVER DIE.” Then he seems... (full context)
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“I am always saying prayers for Owen Meany,” John says. He thinks about how he would have answered Mary Beth in the... (full context)