[[quoteright:302:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/4473_3989.jpg]]
There are three things about Owen Meany that are unusual. The first is that even when he reaches adulthood he is under five feet tall. The second is his damaged voicebox, trapped in a permanent scream that alternately amuses and scares those around him. The third? He calls himself [[MissionFromGod GOD'S INSTRUMENT]], [[MessianicArchetype and he might be right]].

Written by John Irving, ''A Prayer For Owen Meany'' (1989) is best described as intentional {{Glurge}} with an undercurrent of [[TrueArtIsAngsty despairing]] {{Postmodernism}}. Critical reception has generally been positive, as has its reception by [[SchoolStudyMedia high school English teachers]].
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!!'''Tropes''':
* AllPartOfTheShow: During the Nativity play, Owen (playing Jesus) stands up and addresses the audience, telling them they are not worthy and should be ashamed of themselves for even setting foot in a church. The audience sitting in the church assumes this is a sermon to them and part of the play; the reader knows that Owen was talking to [[spoiler: his sacrilegious parents]].
* AManIsNotAVirgin: Averted by Johnny. He is a virgin throughout the entire book, as the events of the novel have "neutered him" in his own words.
* AnachronicOrder: A few scenes, the scenes in the present day non-withstanding, take place years after the main parts of the novel, but are tied in with it.
* {{Anticlimax}}: Deliberately on multiple occasions.
* BeCarefulWhatYouWishFor: Rev. Merill wished that Tabitha would drop dead when he saw her waving hi in his direction at the fateful baseball game. [[spoiler: She does.]]
* BiggerIsBetterInBed: Owen, according to Hester.
* BoardingSchool: Owen and Johnny go to one,though Owen is a day student and Johnny lives in a faculty apartment with his stepfather, and watch as a new headmaster begins to turn it into a BoardingSchoolOfHorrors. [[spoiler:Owen gets expelled for his resistance, but in the process he gets the headmaster fired]].
* BreakHerHeartToSaveHer: Downplayed. Owen purposely makes jabs at Hester and picks fights with her in his letters to "help her fall out of love with him [[spoiler: before he died". Unfortunately, seeing what Hester become after his death, he wasn't successful.]]
* BrokenBird: Hester becomes this [[spoiler: after Owen's death.]]
* CatchPhrase: Oh, lots.
** Johnny: (in narration) "Remember that?" or "Remember him?" When talking about famous people/events from the past.
** Owen: "THERE'S NO NEED TO BE CRUDE." Usually talking to Hester, and sometimes Johnny. And "I KNOW __ THINGS." Used in his diary. First he knows 3 things about himself (his voice never changes, when he's going to die, and that he's God's instrument), then 2 things in his dream about his own death, and then 4 things about himself (expand the above list to include ''how'' he's going to die).
** Johnny and Owen both use "give me the shivers" often enough to be a catch phrase as well, though Owen first and Johnny more.
** Harriet Wheelwright: "I would rather be murdered by a maniac/madman."
* CharacterDevelopment: Owen starts the novel vehemently prejudiced against Catholics. By the end of the novel he's eased up considerably and [[spoiler: even dies in the arms of a nun.]] This is in stark contrast to Johnny, who is lost without Owen and changes little by the end of the book.
* ChasteHero: Johnny actively tries to lose his virginity for years, but is never able to find a girl interested in taking it from him. Fuel for some comic moments when he's older: A colleague's husband refers to him as a "non-practicing homosexual" (which is a term the man apparently made up). Hester tells Johnny's students that he's still a virgin (in his forties), and the girls think it's a joke. WordOfGod [[http://www.denverpost.com/headlines/ci_12059000 suggests that Johnny may have been in love with Owen]], either platonically or not-so-platonically, [[spoiler: and his death pretty much put the stop to any chance of him finding love of any sort.]]
* ChekhovsArmory: Owen's height, voice, and strange complexion [[spoiler: are all necessary attributes for him to have in order to save the Vietnamese children.]]
* [[ChekhovsSkill Chekhov's Skill]]: Owen is too short to dunk a basketball, but he's developed a trick where he jumps into Johnny's arms and Johnny helps him dunk. He insists that "it's not for a game," and that what matters is getting it done in under three seconds. As mentioned below, he knows a bit of the future . . .
* ConversationalTroping: Owen discusses {{Film Tropes}} several times, generally mocking them. ("FIGHTING WITH SWORDS, IT'S STUPID TO WEAR LOOSE, BAGGY SHIRTS--OF COURSE YOUR SHIRTS ARE GOING TO GET [[ClothingDamage ALL SLASHED TO PIECES!"]])
* CreepyChild: Owen can activate this at will.
* CrisisofFaith: Both Johnny and Rev. Merrill. Johnny claims that the events of the novel are responsible for his faith in God. [[spoiler: And apparently, his doubt in God might be inherited from his father, Rev. Merrill.]]
* DeathByNewberyMedal: Guess who.
* DreamingOfThingsToCome: Owen sees his impending death over and over.
* EasyEvangelism: Subverted, with multiple {{Author Filibuster}}s on what it takes to get someone to believe in miracles.
* TheFatalist: Owen, [[ThereAreNoCoincidences big-time]].
* FilmOfTheBook: ''Simon Birch''. An interesting comparison, as it starts out word-perfect to the source material and diverges further and further as the stories progress. It's as though the film was shot in sequence and the ExecutiveMeddling was going on ''at the same time''. [[spoiler: It is also LighterAndSofter than the book. Joe, Johnny's counterpart in the movie, is happy and adjusted in the present day, whereas Johnny in the novel is a broken shell.]] The changes were enforced by Irving though, as he believed that the book could not be accurately portrayed in a film.
* FirstPersonPeripheralNarrator: Johnny.
* {{Fingore}}: Johnny is desperate to avoid the draft. [[spoiler: The army won't draft people who're missing their trigger finger. Owen has access to a diamond saw.]]
* TheFundamentalist: Dudley Wiggin, the Episcopalian minister.
* FramingDevice: The story is being told by Johnny in the present day (a few years before the book was published, 1987), but the majority of it takes place in his youth. It sometimes dips back into the present day to highlight how much Johnny hasn't grown since Owen's death, or at all really.
* GodIsEvil: Johnny speculates on this, concluding that at the very least no ''good'' god would let Owen Meany die young. Interestingly, the events of the book actually increase his faith.
* HotForPreacher: [[spoiler: Tabitha slept with Rev. Merrill, which resulted in Johnny.]]
* HopeSpot: [[spoiler: On the date Owen predicted he would lose his life, it almost seems to all of the characters that his dreams of his death were just that, dreams. Then Dick arrives with a grenade in his hand...]]
* HowWeGotHere: Several decades after the fact as Johnny looks back on his friendship with Owen.
* InnocentProdigy: Owen.
* ImmodestOrgasm: The Brinker-Smiths fit this trope to a T. Owen and Johnny can not help but hear them have sex in every room in a building they are in.
* JumpingOnAGrenade: [[spoiler: How Owen dies, saving a [[BusFullOfInnocents group of Vietnamese refugee children]]]]
* KidsAreCruel
* KissingCousins: Johnny and Hester consider this.
* LockedIntoStrangeness: Happens to older/narrating Johnny; his hair (which is already starting to go grey at the edges by this time) goes completely white after a shocking apparent beyond-the-grave encounter with [[spoiler: Owen Meany]].
* LoveableSexManiac: Hester "the Molester" Eastman.
* MagicalRealism: Downplayed. Owen himself is supernatural, as he knows that he is on the world for a purpose, and predicts his death. But all of the events that lead Owen to his conclusions are pretty much just experienced by him, and everyone around him is pretty sure he is just fooling himself. [[spoiler: Until he is proven right.]]
** Years after Owen's death, [[spoiler: Johnny claims to have encountered Owen from beyond the grave. The event turned Johnny's hair completely white.]]
* MessianicArchetype: See above. The narrator is convinced that Owen is this.
* {{Motif}}: Armlessness. The Indian chief's totem, Tabby's dressmaker's dummy, the clawless armadillo, Owen wrapped up in swaddling as baby Jesus, the vandalized statue of Mary Magdalen. [[spoiler: During Owen's death scene, his arms are blown off by the grenade.]]
* MysticalPregnancy: Owen's parents claimed his pregnancy was a virgin birth. Never confirmed in the story however.
* OhAndXDies: We're told on the very first page that Owen is going to kill Tabitha.
* OlderThanTheyLook: People tend to assume Owen's a kid because of his size. Some women [[{{Shotacon}} consider it a turn-on]].
* PaintingTheMedium: Owen's voice is represented in ALL CAPS. NoIndoorVoice indeed.
* ParentalNeglect: Owen with his parents.
* ParentalSubstitute: Tabitha is pretty much Owen's mother, since his real one isn't much of a mother. [[spoiler: It makes Tabitha's accidental death at Owen's hands more heartbreaking.]]
* RuleOfSymbolism: Along with many parts of the book, Owen Meany tends to operate on this.
* ScholarshipStudent: Johnny, Owen and many nameless others. The town never built a public high school, having a standing arrangement with the Academy.
* SchoolPlay: Acting in ''Literature/AChristmasCarol'', Owen is [[BringMyBrownPants a little too convincing]] as the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come. Things go even worse when his small size gets him cast as Jesus in a Nativity play--midway through he sits up and calls out two audience members for alleged sacrilege.
* StacysMom: Tabitha to Owen Meany.
* TakeThat: To, among others:
** [[AcceptableReligiousTargets Episcopalians]]
** [[{{Eagleland}} America]], as contrasted with the much more positive CanadaEh.
** [[NewMediaAreEvil Television]]
** [[TheNewRockAndRoll Rock music]]
** [[OldMediaAreEvil Newspapers]]
** UsefulNotes/RonaldReagan, UsefulNotes/RichardNixon, and several other politicians
** [[ViewersAreMorons Stupid and/or lazy readers]] who only pay attention to the plots of books and don't see the symbolism.
* TellMeAboutMyFather: Johnny's question, although Tabitha never answers it. When he finds out why, he's [[ExpectingSomeoneTaller not exactly happy]].
* TooGoodForThisSinfulEarth: Owen.
* TwentyMinutesIntoThePast: The modern day segments are set a couple of years before the book was released. (1989)
* UsefulNotes/TheVietnamWar: Opposed [[AuthorFilibuster at length]].
* WaifProphet: Owen. Usually (and that's ''usually'') he doesn't actually see the future, but he's so good at predicting people's actions that he often seems omniscient anyway.
* WiseBeyondTheirYears: Alternately played straight and averted.
* [[YouCantFightFate You Can't Fight Fate]]: And when the moment comes, Owen doesn't even try, despite [[HeroicSacrifice knowing what will happen]].
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