The Relationship between Owen Meany and Johnny Wheelwright

Lana Sobh Mrs. Malik ENG 3U1-06 April 20, 2013 The Relationship between Owen Meany and Johnny Wheelwright In the novel A Prayer for Owen Meany, John Irving explores the themes of friendship and faith. Friendship is one of the most important things in one’s life. Friendship is the divine feeling of knowing there is someone there. As the saying goes, “friends are flowers in the garden of life”. As flowers add beauty to a garden, friends add beauty to one’s life. Friendship always begins with a seed of trust that is nurtured with laughter and tears, growing into loyalty and love.

The friendship between Owen Meany and Johnny Wheelwright has been maintained since they were young to the last second they were together. Faith can be viewed in many different ways. Faith can be described as faith in God or as a conviction. Faith is a sacred, deep and emotionally involved kind of trust. Faith is like the wind, it cannot be seen, but it can be felt. Owen enabled Johnny to find faith in his life in a religious and convictional way. The friendship between Owen and Johnny clearly showed a positive relationship.

Owen always kept Johnny’s desires in mind, he was always there for Johnny, and he led Johnny to a true faith. First, to maintain their positive relationship, Owen always kept Johnny’s desires in mind. Owen always thought about Johnny and what he can do to make Johnny feel better. Owen went ahead and wrote a play for Johnny’s father, in order for them to find out who Johnny’s father actually is. “Just suppose there was such a play… And we called the play either The Orange Grove or The Lady in Red – don’t you suppose that your father would come to see that play?

And don’t you suppose we could recognize him then? ” (Irving 360). Owen took the effort to write a play, in order to find Johnny’s father. He always wanted to make sure that Johnny’s desires were fulfilled. The relationship between him and Johnny shows to what extent their relationship is true. Their relationship allows Owen to go ahead and help Johnny with his family problems, even though he has nothing to do with it. This shows how much Owen cares for Johnny and wants to help him uncover the truth on who his father is. This is very important in showing how strong the relationship between Owen and Johnny is.

When Johnny was a kid, he had trouble with reading; yet Owen was there to help him improve his reading skills. This is made clear when Tabitha, Johnny’s mother, tells Owen to keep helping Johnny, “I hope you never stop helping Johnny with his homework, Owen. ” (24). When they were young, Owen had promised Tabitha, that he would always help Johnny with his homework. Throughout the years at school, Owen had kept that promise and was always there to help Johnny. This clearly shows how much Owen cares about Johnny and how much he wants to help him.

The death of Tabitha did not have any effect on the choice that Owen had made when he promised that he would always help Johnny with his homework. Johnny suffered from dyslexia and was in need of help, so, Owen helped him with reading and his homework. With Owen’s help, Johnny grows up to be an avid reader and teaches literature at a prep school. Moreover, Owen had helped Johnny with many things other than homework and finding Johnny’s father. Owen had helped Johnny with not going to Vietnam and fight in the war. “He’d cut off my finger to keep me out of Vietnam” (585).

Johnny had his finger, the trigger finger, amputated in order for him not to be able to go to the war. Owen had come up with the idea of cutting off Johnny’s finger. Without Owen being caring towards Johnny and not wanting Johnny to go to Vietnam against his will, Johnny would have gone and fought in Vietnam. Owen had saved Johnny from the draft. Through this action, Owen is trying to get Johnny to prepare Johnny for life without him. He cares so much about Johnny that he is preparing him, so that when Owen passes away, he would be able to continue his life in Canada without him.

Owen always wanted to help Johnny satisfy his needs, so he helped him in many ways. Furthermore, Owen was always there for Johnny. In times of sadness and despair, Owen was there. In times of laughter and happiness, he was there. This clearly shows how positive their relationship was and how true of a friend he is. During the Christmas Carol play, Own fainted. Later, it was told that Owen had seen his own name on the grave. When Johnny went to ask Owen what date Owen saw, Owen does not end up telling him, instead he tells him that there was no date at all. ‘There was no date,’ Owen said. I wanted to cry- not because I believe a single thing about his stupid ‘vision,’ but because it was the first time he had lied to me. ” (255). This shows how heartbroken Johnny is, he is devastated that Owen was hiding something from him. But then again Owen did not want Johnny to feel sad if he told him the date. Owen really cares about Johnny, he is not trying to hurt Johnny, he is trying to protect him. Owen must have felt the need to protect Johnny since he might think that Johnny would interfere with his fate and result in the death of Johnny.

Owen cared a lot about Johnny. When they were young, Johnny was asked to repeat the ninth grade. So, Owen being the nice and caring friend he is, decided to repeat the ninth grade with Johnny. Owen tells everyone that he is going to stick by Johnny’s side. “Owen announced his decision to attend the ninth grade at Gravesend High School, too. He would stay with me; he would enter the academy the following year-he could have skipped a grade, yet he volunteered to repeat the ninth grade with me! ” (267).

After Tabitha’s death Johnny had needed a high degree of support, which came from Owen. Owen had promised Tabitha to help Johnny with his homework and in order for that to happen, they found that Johnny and Owen needed to be in the same grade. Owen tells everyone that he is going to stick by Johnny’s side. This clearly shows the loyalty Owen has towards Johnny. This shows the true friendship there is between them. Owen’s decision was a surprise to all because no one would have thought that Owen was that caring and loyal to Johnny.

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