In the latter half of A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving

In the latter half of A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving, Owen gets expelled from Gravesend Academy for helping students make fake draft cards to serve as IDs (so that they could buy alcohol); however, Owen graduates from the local public high school, and he and John both decide to go to the University of New Hampshire while Owen develops his relationship with John’s cousin Hester. Though Hester and John disapprove of the military ROTC program Owen volunteered for, it is the only way he can afford going to the University of New Hampshire, and he hopes he will one day get to go to Vietnam to fulfill his destiny. Instead of going directly to a combat position, Owen is assigned to a position in Arizona in which he escorts the bodies of dead soldiers back to their families. One day, Owen invites John to come to Arizona and relax. At the airport on the day of John’s return flight—also the day Owen claims to be destined to die—Owen and John notice nuns escorting several Vietnamese orphans through the airport, and Owen offers to help the boys find the bathroom. Suddenly, a grenade is thrown into the bathroom and John catches it as Owen jumps up; the maneuver starkly resembles “The Shot” as Owen shields the children from the grenade, but his arms are blown off and he bleeds to death. Back in Gravesend, Owen’s ghost possesses Rev. Merrill which causes him to admit that he is John’s father, and Mr. Meany later claims that Owen was a virgin birth (like Jesus Christ).


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