A Prayer for Owen Meany

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I am doomed to remember a boy with a wrecked voice—not because of his voice, or because he was the smallest person I ever knew, or even because he was the instrument of my mother's death, but because he is the reason I believe in God; I am a Christian because of Owen Meany.

In the summer of 1953, two eleven-year-old boys—best friends—are playing in a Little League baseball game in Gravesend, New Hampshire. One of the boys hits a foul ball that kills the other boy's mother. The boy who hits the ball doesn't believe in accidents; Owen Meany believes he is God's instrument. What happens to Owen after that 1953 foul ball is extraordinary.

Curriculet Details
191 Questions
174 Annotations
3 Quizzes

Designed for students in 8th grade, this free digital curriculum contains annotations explaining religious imagery, other literary works referenced and explanations of the historical context in which the narrator uses to explain the development of the main characters. It also contains interactive videos that support comprehension, such as videos about foreshadowing and symbolism. Over the course of the book, students will answer Common Core questions and quizzes related to the subjects of narrative style, symbolism, and themes of faith, identity and growing up. This free online unit will increase student engagement while building reading comprehension.

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1. The Foul Ball

Here is a chart to compare different beliefs of the different religions in Christianity. All through the book different religious sects are mentioned frequently. Look and consider the differences as you read through the experiences of the characters in the book. (This annotation contains a link)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.3
What role does religion play in the life of the narrator?   
This is the strike zone in baseball. (This annotation contains an image)
The Mayflower was the ship the Pilgrims used to arrive to the Americas. (This annotation contains a link)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.1
What can you tell about the narrator from the text? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.1
What does Owen finally landing a rock in the water signify? 
Granite is used for many purposes including countertops like the one below. (This annotation contains an image)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.4
From the context of this paragraph, what does the word motives mean in this sentence? 
A fling is a common term for a brief or casual love affair. 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.1
Why did the narrator say "no one ever told me if her voice improved" to end his description of his mother's travels to Boston? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.3
Why did the narrator tell the story of Lydia's relationship with his grandmother? 
This is a simple map of Prince Edward Island to give you an idea of the area the narrator is mentioning here. (This annotation has embedded rich content)
The Episcopal church is a large Christian denomination.  (This annotation contains a link)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.4
What did Owen mean when he said the church ritualized any hope of contact with God? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.2
Do you think the narrator's main emotional connection to Owen is because they are both not originally Episcopalian?  Explain your reasoning using examples from the text. 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.2
Why does the author capitalize Owen's speech when he does not for any other characters? 
Are school uniforms useful? Read this article to find out the newest thoughts. (This annotation contains a link)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.4
According to the context of the passage, who does Mr. Meany mean when he says them? 
The word contaminate used here is a metaphor for spreading misbehavior. 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.2
How has this unspeakable outrage done to the Meany family affected each member of the family? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.6
What is a possible motive for the narrator to explain how boring he finds baseball? 
Many people agree Little League is more exciting than the "grown-ups". This link is to the televised Little League World Series. (This annotation contains a link)
Even the great players get on base much less than half the time. This is one famous baseball player that never had a high average. This is Babe Ruth in the 1921 World Series. (This annotation contains an image)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.2
What does the narrator point out about his mother's character in the moments before her death? 
The phrase Christian name is another way of saying first name. 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.3
From what you know of the character of Owen Meany, why do you think he took the ball? 

2. The Armadillo

The word Byzantine as used here means complex. 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.1
How does the narrator's view of his mother contrast with that of his aunt? Cite specific text. 
The Boston and Maine is an old Eastern railroad. There are many vintage videos about the Boston and Maine on the Internet from train enthusiasts. (This annotation contains a video)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.3
What is the source of tension between the grandmother and Tabby? 
Harvard is the most prestigious school in the United States.  (This annotation contains a link)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.4
From the context of the passage, what does the word countenance mean? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.1
What is the narrator most likely foreshadowing about his mother's new love interest by contrasting him with the 'goons' his mother dated before? 
What six year old would not treasure such a collection?  (This annotation contains an image)
What an odd prop! (This annotation contains a link)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.1
This chapter is called "The Armadillo".  Why do you think the armadillo is so significant to the narrator so far? 
This is an image of the White Mountains. (This annotation contains a link)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.1
Which is an appropriate synonym for the word rambunctious? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.1
How would the narrator describe his cousins based off of this text? 
What a perfect dog for the cousins to torment the narrator with! (This annotation contains a link)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.1
Why did the narrator enjoy playing Monopoly? 
Hanky-panky means sexual activity. It may come from the term hocus-pocus meaning dubious or trickery. 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.2
Why do you think the narrator spends so much time explaining his kissing experience with Hester? 
Peevish and aloof mean irritated and distant. 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.2
Which could be a possible reason Owen feels connections with the armadillo? 
Of course the armadillo is stuffed, but some animals do water ski. Check out this quick video of a water skiing squirrel. (This annotation contains a link)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.1
Compare the narrator's feelings as a child to his feelings as he is telling the story.  Use text from the book as proof of your comparison. 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.1
What is the most likely reason Hester's brothers pick on her? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.3
Why is the narrator nervous about the meeting of his cousins and Owen Meany? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.1
Why did the narrator believe his cousins accepted Owen's odd voice and demeanor? 
The brutal play of the cousins is in distinct contrast with the weakness of Owen. The narrator has very extreme experiences in his play time as a child. 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.2
Owen suggests the game in this scene.  It seems relatively safe.  What has the author set up that allows the reader to know the game could end in disaster? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.2
How does Hester compare with Owen? 
This is an example of a gentleman's topcoat from the early 1900's. (This annotation contains an image)
Johnny's mother is very kind to Owen. The author allows the reader to see just how much her death would weigh on Owen. 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.2
Why do you think Owen wants to go to Sawyer Depot so badly when he knows Johnny's cousins are so rough? 
Owen is starting to take advantage of his size to help the cousins know how to play with him. He is smart enough not to make the same mistake twice. The cousins respect this without saying it. 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.4
What does Owen mean by the word direction in this sentence? 
Owen is not the only one that finds cards precious. Some are truly worth lots of money as well as memory and nostalgia. What role does nostalgia play in this whole story? (This annotation contains a link)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.3
What does the order of the cards say about Owen? 
God reveals his message to certain people in the Old Testament to deliver to different groups of people. 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.9
What does the scripture from Jeremiah let the reader know about the narrator's view of Owen Meany?  
The narrator is starting to embrace Dan Needham as a father figure. He seeks his advice when Owen acts oddly. 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.3
What emotion did Owen feel when he cut off the armadillo's claws? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.3
Why do you think the narrator tells the story out of chronological order?  What does this do to help tell the story? 
This is a clip of Reagan announcing his plan that was later nicknamed Star Wars by critics. (This annotation contains a link)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.1
What events are making Owen Meany turn against America's involvement in the Vietnam War? 
Read this article to elaborate on Operation Rolling Thunder. What about this operation would make Owen feel doomed about the war in Vietnam? (This annotation contains a link)

3. The Angel

Using a dummy can show the elegance of a dress much more than on the rack. (This annotation contains an image)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.2
Why does the author say "of course" when saying that Owen experienced the most poignant encounters with the dummy? 
Angela Lansbury started acting in the early nineteen forties. By the nineteen eighties, she starred in the famous television series Murder She Wrote. (This annotation contains an image)
This angel story is another story in a series of out of chronological stories. The main changing event in the story so far is the death of Johnny's mother. Why does the author let us know she dies and then tell stories about her?  (This annotation contains a video)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.7
Owen Meany is a sincere believer.  How does Owen's faith in angels compare to modern Americans?  Read the following article to compare Owen to modern Americans.http://www.cbsnews.com/news/poll-nearly-8-in-10-americans-believe-in-angels/ 
In the book of Exodus the Angel of Death enacts the tenth plague on all the first born of Egypt. 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.3
Why do you think the grandmother does not address the mother's criticism of her? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.1
Owen implied that ______ was an omen of death. 
The word sheepish means that Mr. Fish lacked confidence. 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.1
Owen _______ Johnny's theory about the identity of Johnny's father. 
Why do you think Johnny's mother guards this secret so closely? What does this say about her character? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.1
Why does Johnny prefer Pastor Merrill over Rector Wiggin? 
Johnny and Owen complain about religion all through the novel. One criticism is on what preachers focus on in sermons. Why does the rector seem to get excited only about very specific parts of the Bible such as the seraphim? (This annotation contains a link)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.3
Why does Owen not like the likable Lewis Merrill? 
Owen has great tension in his life. His peculiar nature, the death of Tabitha, and his tense moments playing with Johnny's cousins are just a few of his struggles. He also suffers many small annoyances such as Barb Wiggin's interactions. Watch this video to review the concept of tension in stories. Then think about other sources of tension in this story as you continue to read.  (This annotation contains a video)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.1
Why is the service held at Hurd's church? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.1
How can the grandmother's personality preferences be described? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.1
How does the Meany family stand apart at the wedding? 
The grandmother would be very comfortable being a character from Maugham's play mentioned in the text. Here is a clip to give you an idea of the style of the play. (This annotation contains a video)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.2
What theme of the book does this present support? 
Decorating cars is a time honored tradition. Here is a gallery of cars that says "just married". (This annotation contains a link)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.1
What does Johnny mean by the word holy in this sentence? 
The author goes out of his way to keep referencing the tragedy that is yet to come in the story.  
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.2
What does the author imply is the crime that Tabby must pay for? 
Many people avoided the draft. Some even burned their draft cards like the one below in protest. (This annotation contains a link)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.1
What could be the purpose of discussing Chief Pike's suspicion and gaze? 
The article below describes the treatments for those that are mourning the dead. Take time to read over the text and think about Johnny's reactions in the book to his mother's death. (This annotation contains a link)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.1
Why is everyone covering their ears? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.3
Why do you think the author makes Johnny indifferent about where Dan stays the first night? 
There are five stages of grief. Read the article below to understand the stages better. Will Johnny express the stages?  (This annotation contains a link)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.3
Why do you think Mr. Meany changes his mind about Owen going to Gravesend Academy? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.4
What is a more common word that means the same thing as loquaciousness? 
Communion is a ritual in which Christians partake of wine or juice and unleavened bread. It symbolizes the sacrifice of Jesus and the relationship between man and God. (This annotation contains an image)
Quiz One 

4. The Little Lord Jesus

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.1
How does the narrator compare his Christmas to what the ideal Christmas should be? 
The phrase "pillar of light" is an allusion to the pillar of fire that guided the Hebrews out of Egypt to the promised land. 
The turtle dove could symbolize the Old and New Testament. Turtle doves are real birds also. (This annotation contains an image)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.3
What does Johnny mean when he says Owen is "only serious" in this selection? 
An official pentathlon consists of shooting, swimming, fencing, horse riding and cross country running. The term is used loosely for academic and other events. Below is a highlight reel of the modern event.  (This annotation contains a video)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.2
What emerging theme of the book is further explored here? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.1
Which word best describes Owen's views of the other students? 
Dormitory life would be very lonely for some students. Rooms are small and cramped. It would be hard to grow up as exposed as these students are to each other.  (This annotation contains an image)
Advent is a season of worship in some Christian sects. Advent starts around the beginning of December.  
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.3
How would you describe Mr. Wiggin's character in this passage? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.1
How would students who have to play the angel describe themselves? 
What do you think the author is trying to say by having Harold colliding with a painting of the disciples?  (This annotation contains an image)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.4
What does the word orthodoxy mean in this passage? 
Christmas music is timeless. The top songs of 2014 were a mix of classic songs, hymns and new songs.  (This annotation contains a link)
The three gifts given in the Bible are gold, frankincense, and myrrh.  (This annotation contains an image)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.2
How does casting Owen Meany as baby Jesus in the play reflect on ongoing themes from the book? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.4
What does the word ponder mean in this sentence? 
The word tableau means a staged scene performed by people to show an important historical scene. 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.1
Why do you think Mr. Fish is so excited to play Scrooge from the evidence so far? 
Johnny did not see his neighbor as a full human being but almost an archetype of an old neighbor. Mr. Fish is seen by Johnny as a static character while he as the main character is dynamic. Watch this short clip to see the difference between dynamic and static characters.  (This annotation contains a video)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.2
How does the story about Sagamore's death support a main theme of the book? 
Owen has a habit of taking objects that he feels he must have in his possession to prevent others from having them. The dummy and Christ child as well as the armadillo arms are evident of this. 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.2
Using evidence from the story so far, why do you think Owen has collected these three items?  
Quince is valued for the pectin it has that naturally makes jelly. (This annotation contains an image)
A survey by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life found that sixty three percent of young Americans believe in some kind of demon possession. Germaine calls Owen's voice from the Devil later to confirm her demonic fears. 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.4
Which character's language in this section demonstrates the most contempt for Owen's belief in his own specialness? 
What do you think Johnny has in mind for this information? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.1
Owen views sex with ____. 
This link is to the scene in the book where Scrooge meets the last ghost. Review the scene to understand the impact of the character of the last ghost.  (This annotation contains a link)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.7
Review the themes and story of A Christmas Carol.  How does Owen's desire to portray the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come reflect the way the narrator views Owen's role in his life? 

5. The Ghost of the Future

There are many myths about the common cold and flu. Check out the following list of myths to see if you believed any of them.  (This annotation contains a link)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.1
What is Dan's mood over the Christmas play? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.3
From what you know of Mr. and Mrs. Meany, why is Owen so embarrassed of his parents? 
The word puckish means playful or whimsical. 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.4
What can you guess about the word genuflect from the context of the conversation? 
Owen is referencing that the fur trade and fur use is common in Russia and Eastern Europe. This image is of a fur coat made of fox similar to the one Barb Wiggin is wearing. (This annotation contains an image)
Swaddling is a way to take care of an infant. The following article outlines safe swaddling practices.  (This annotation contains a link)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.2
What does Owen's contrary mood reveal about the way he sees not only the role of Jesus but his own fate? 
Johnny had the best view of all the happenings from his position on stage as Joseph. This serves Johnny's role as narrator very well! 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.1
Why does Barb Wiggin sabotage Owen's performance? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.3
What does the audience's reaction to Owen say about his role in the novel? 
This refers to Adam and Eve in the Bible. 
How does believing in luck coexist with Owen's faith and sense of fate? Read the following to find out about how people perceive luck. Do you think luck is real or just perceived?  (This annotation contains a link)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.1
How does John stand out from his Canadian peers? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.3
John says Owen gave him faith, but John struggles with faith and identity. In what ways is John struggling as an adult in this passage and the others from the eighties?   
Sacrilegious means completely against religion. 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.1
Why did Mr. Fish have a unique view of the play in the community? 
This is a picture of real flying buttresses. (This annotation contains an image)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.4
What does sundry mean in this context? 
The word shiver is used a lot in this book. Here it is used literally.  
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.2
How does the community treat the Meany family?  What is it about Mr. and Mrs. Meany that makes them stand out in the community? 
Many books have been banned or an attempt to ban them has been made. Read the list to see if you have read any banned or challenged books.  (This annotation contains a link)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.3
Who does John hope to see in the audience? 
Is Mr. Fish being ironic here? Did the author intend on this irony or did he just use a common phrase? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.1
How would Dan describe Owen's vision? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.2
This page uses the word grave and Gravesend.  What do you think could be the author's purpose of using Gravesend for the ame of the town? 
The tradition of placing coins over eyes may come from Ancient Greece. They also keep the eyes shut.  
The old cliche is that you are what you eat. The Meany family would be best described with "you are where you work". http://www.geograph.ie/photo/2130514 (This annotation contains a link)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.2
What reason does John want to know his father? 
Most gravestones have the name and dates very prominent. To see a future death date is very referential to A Christmas Carol. This image is a typical gravestone for an example.  (This annotation contains an image)

6. The Voice

Sinatra had a huge impact on early television. Here is a performance to give you a taste of Sinatra's flare.  (This annotation contains a video)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.3
What does getting the television say about the changing dynamic in the household? 
Liberace was very talented along with having stage presence. Here is a clip to give you a sense of his work.  (This annotation contains a video)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.3
What does Dan understand about people of different ages that Johnny does not yet appreciate? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.5
Look at the report below from the CDC and compare the scare of teenage pregnancy to the reality of the chart of figure 2.  Was the fear of teenage pregnancy statistically true?http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr49/nvsr49_10.pdf 
There are many suppliers of uniforms for schools today. If your school does not use a uniform, check out some examples of what you could be wearing to a modern Gravesend Academy.  (This annotation contains a link)
Here is the obituary from the New York Times on Liberace released on the real February 5th, 1987. Notice all scandal is ignored in the original obituary as you read.  (This annotation contains a link)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.1
Why might Owen take such offense to Mary Magdalene's statue? 
Here is a trailer for The Ten Commandments. Is it ridiculous to portray miracles on screen like Owen thinks?  (This annotation contains a video)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.1
What role do television and movies give Owen and Johnny? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.4
What does the word rendezvous mean in this context? 
Tortola is in the Virgin Islands in the Caribbean. (This annotation contains a link)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.1
What makes John feel at home at the school? 
This article explains Palm Sunday through a Christian view. Read to understand the significance this season has to John. (This annotation contains a link)
Parallel parking is easier than it looks. Here is an instructional video to give you a feel for parallel parking.  (This annotation contains a video)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.3
How does Owen surpass Johnny in a stage of growing up? 
Many work places are inherently dangerous. OSHA has reported that 4,383 workers were killed on the job in 2012. That is around twelve a day. 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.3
What do Owen and Johnny's grandmother have in common? 
This is a reference to the NAZI party in Germany.  (This annotation contains an image)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.3
What is the significance of the magazine column being called The Voice? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.4
What does puerile mean in this context? 
Owen does not want to sound like a tabloid, but he does write like one.  (This annotation contains an image)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.2
What is a recurring them in Hester's life? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.3
What theme of the book do the acquiring of the television, Owen's driving and going to the beach support? 
Here is a link to statistics about 1959. Look to get a better view of Owen and John's world.  (This annotation contains a link)
There are many learning disabilities such as dyslexia. Dyslexia is fairly common. Read the following to get a sense of the traits of dyslexia.  (This annotation contains a link)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.1
What does Owen criticize the school for their approach to Johnny? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.3
What does this statement reveal about Owen Meany? 
Kierkegaard spent much of his philosophical work in defining faith. (This annotation contains an image)
This book is widely read and adapted to film. The earliest adaption was in 1913. John and Owen would probably watch movies like this on TV when they could. 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.1
We know John becomes an English teacher at an academy.  How does Owen force John to commit to his studies? 
WASP stands for "White Anglo-Saxon Protestant," and it is often used as a pejorative (critical or negative) term.  
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.1
Why does Owen instantly not trust Randolph White? 
The Bishop Strachan School is a real school in Canada. John spends his career in distinguished private schools even though he struggled initially. (This annotation contains a link)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.3
What has John been consistently criticized for in Canada? 
Gary Hart was caught in an affair around this time. There are several references to how political scandals are worse than sex scandals in American politics in the book.  (This annotation contains an image)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.3
What can you assume about John from this passage? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.4
What does Owen think Mr. White is doing? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.2
Why is this such a surprise for John? 
Kennedy was popular with young people around America. Here is an example of his oratory skills as opposed to Nixon.  (This annotation contains a video)
Here is the rest of the story.  (This annotation contains a link)
Quiz Two 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.5
Read Frost's poem The Gift Outright.  Analyze Owen's character so far and state why you think Owen identified so much with Kennedy and Frost's words.http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/237942 

7. The Dream

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.2
What does Owen mean when he says that his hands were the instrument? 
Harvard and Yale are two of the most distinguished Ivy League schools in the nation. They have a low acceptance rate around six percent. This image is of Yale Law School.  (This annotation contains an image)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.1
How does Owen compare to the average Gravesend Academy student? 
The word posh means upscale. Some say it stands for 'port out, starboard in'. This would be the best view on ships. Others say it comes from a Romani word for an amount of money. 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.1
What must be difficult for John to accept about his mother? 
Many immigrants had names changed by the workers. Today many choose not to change names to more American sounding names. Read the article below to find out why. (This annotation contains a link)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.2
What does this lie about her travels and the dress reveal about Tammy? 
The lady in red is a classic trope about a dangerous and sexy woman. The imagery would be well known to people of the time and the reader of the novel. Here is an example from a movie poster. (This annotation contains an image)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.1
What could John and Owen surmise about Mr. McSwiney from his apartment? 
This is a video of a broadcaster seeing his own vocal cords. Watch to get an idea of the way the voice works.  (This annotation contains a link)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.2
How could Tabby's lies change John's view of her? 
It seems like the pregnancy did not necessarily come from her adventures as the Lady in Red, but the boys continue their search. What will happen to John if he finds his father? How could it change him? 
Repose means relaxed. 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.4
What tone does Johnny have when he says "imagine that"? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.2
How does Owen's prophecy about upcoming generations compare to John's character? 
The New York Times is widely circulated even today. Look to see breaking headlines of today's news.  (This annotation contains a link)
Read the article below. We will look later at how Reagan's policies compare to John's personal experience.  (This annotation contains a link)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.2
What does John focus on more as an adult telling the story of the book than as the child he is in the story? 
The affair between Monroe and JFK is still written about with speculation. Here is a clip of Monroe singing to the President, further promoting the legendary affair. (This annotation contains a video)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.1
Why does Owen now not trust Kennedy? 
The Georgian Bay is a beautiful bay of Lake Huron.  (This annotation contains an image)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.1
Compare Mitzy Lish to Tabby Wheelwright.  Both are beautiful and attractive women.  How are their characters and approach to life different? 
The idea of valedictorians is falling out of favor in some parts of the United States. Read this article to understand why.  (This annotation contains a link)
Monroe was an icon of movies, glamour, fashion and beauty.  (This annotation contains an image)
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Why does Owen lash out at Mrs. Lish? 
Anti-Semitism is bigotry against people that are Jewish. 
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What does Owen prove by his actions? 
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Read the article below on Oliver North's involvement in the Iran Contra affair.  Would John call him a 'villain who deceived' or a 'hero who obeyed'?  Cite evidence from the text.http://www.brown.edu/Research/Understanding_the_Iran_Contra_Affair/h-on-gallery.php 
Owen, John and Harriet Wheelwright all love things literally made for television. They do not admit they turn to the television a lot. 
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Why is it likely Owen is fascinated with life after death? 
Why can you see your breath when it is cold? Here is a quick article to let you know. (This annotation contains a link)
A Volkswagen Beetle from the sixties would weigh between 1500-1800 pounds. Here is a collection of nicer Beetles to give you a feel for what they look like. (This annotation contains a video)
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What does the phrase 'name written all over it' mean? 
There are safer ways to lift to prevent injury. The Mayo Clinic provides steps. Look at the slideshow to understand the steps.  (This annotation contains a link)
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What did Mr. White ultimately fail to do? 
It is a felony in some states to possess a fake ID. Charges of fraud can be pursued along with getting a license revoked. 
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What motivation could Randy White have for this special prosecution? 
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The term "gestapo tactics" is used often to describe unfair and overly harsh actions.  Read the article below and explain whether you think Dan is accurate?http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/nazi_police_state.htm 
The shock of using Mary Magdalene would offend not just the Catholic population but everyone in Gravesend. (This annotation contains an image)
The church is named after Michael the Archangel. Is there any symbolic significance? (This annotation contains an image)
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How do we know this could be a significant event? 
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What would a dream that Owen would confide in Rev. Merrill involve? 
Look at the article to get an idea of life in 1962.  (This annotation contains a link)
Mr. White is very slanderous here. He calls Owen virulently antireligous, meaning completely hostile toward Catholics. He also brings up the false anti-Semitism again for further slander. 
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Which is most likely a reason the Army was willing to look over Owen's production of fake draft cards and vandalism? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.4
Which is the most accurate synonym for desecration? 
First lieutenant is an accomplished role in the Army. This rank is over one hundred or so soldiers and can command specialized platoons. If Owen's prophecy comes true, he will be accomplished in the military. 

8. The Finger

The year 1962 is another big one for John and Owen. Monroe dies, the Cuban Missile Crisis happens, Gunter Grass and Robert Frost both are published, and Johnny Carson takes over "The Late Show." Read below for more events.  (This annotation contains a link)
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How does John's path differ from his cousins in the future? 
Why does John struggle to connect to girls? John as a narrator is very open in some ways and very closed in others. He does not explain his difficulties with women. 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.2
What does the present-day John mean by saying, while vacationing with his friend Katherine and her family on Georgian Bay: “I can almost imagine that I have had a life very different from the life I have had,”? What sort of life has John had? What other (or different) life might he have had, instead?  
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.4
Calling the crow's shrills disputations and harangues implies the crows are arguing and yelling in an argumentative way.  What is this an example of? 
Here is a typical Caspian tern. (This annotation contains an image)
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How does the eulogy of Marilyn Monroe portray Monroe differently than this book?http://www.funeralwise.com/plan/eulogy/monroe/ 
History.com's account of Monroe's death is brief and informative. Look below to contrast with the book and the eulogy presented in the question. http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/marilyn-monroe-is-found-dead 
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How do we know John agrees with Owen's ideas about America? 
According to The Veterans Hour, 648,500 were drafted in Vietnam. 
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Which reason most directly causes Owen not take criticism well? 
This protest led to American awareness of the dissatisfaction with Diem's administration.  (This annotation contains an image)
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What different approach does John take to his work than Owen? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.2
We know John played Joseph in the play.  John is using Joseph figuratively here. What does Johnny mean when he says he was and is a Joseph? 
This is an imagined image of a black hole.  (This annotation contains an image)
The book uses historical happenings to help capture the feel of the time. Here is Walter Cronkite informing the nation of JFK's death. (This annotation contains a video)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.1
What is the grandmother afraid of according to this passage? 
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How does this possibly foreshadow Owen's fate? 
The '57 Chevy is a highly regarded classical car today. Watch to understand why. (This annotation contains a video)
Owen confirmed John's suspicions that Mr. Meany did what Owen said. 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.1
What is Owen teasing Johnny about in this scene? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.1
Why does Katherine want John to stay away from the news? 
With John's politics, it would seem likely for him to have moved to avoid the draft. The author is building up another mystery about his characters here. 
Pierre Elliot Trudeau 15th Prime Minister of Canada (This annotation contains an image)
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What do we know about John from his introduction to his start in Canada? 
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Did John successfully assimilate? What was stopping him? 
Watch the video to get a better idea of guerrilla warfare. (This annotation contains a link)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.3
What character trait of Owen Meany impresses John throughout the book and in this passage? 
Though drinking is not a problem for Owen, drinking is a problem for many in the military. Read the article to find out why.  (This annotation contains a link)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.6
How does Owen's point of view of the war differ from the narrator and the audience of the book? 
Graduate students pursue degrees higher than a bachelors degree in a subject. 
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Why do you think Hester stays close to Owen even though she hates his concept of his fate? 
Even in his vision, Owen finds a way to jab at the Catholic faith.  
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How do the details of the dream make John feel? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.2
What does the word demonstrate mean in this context? 
Hester's character has not changed in some ways from the girl who was rough and aggressive as a child. 
The book is going back to the TV watching habits of the boys again. Why do you think that device is used? Here is a poster for Moon Over Miami to show what the boys were watching. (This annotation contains an image)
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What is the purpose of Owen's statement when he says, "I'D LIKE TO GO WHERE THERE ARE PALM TREES"? 
Esther Williams was also a synchronized swimmer. Why do you think the author goes out of his way to make references to actors such as Esther Williams?  
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.1
What role does television play in the lives of the characters? 
The United States had a policy of containment in Vietnam. Stopping the spread of communism was considered a paramount mission for the United States. 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.3
What is evident from Owen's quoting of Kennedy? 
Owen makes Vietnam seem like a scary place. Snakes and poisons that grow on trees are coupled with enemy soldiers. Here is an image of the tree the poison comes from.  (This annotation contains an image)
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What does John believe according to his passage? 
Soldiers like these below still train at Fort Huachuca.  (This annotation contains an image)
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What talent does Owen have throughout the book that makes him a good Army worker? 
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What could excite Owen about this job? 
Hester throwing up is an ongoing recurrence. What is inspiring all of her sickness? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.1
What is Owen trying to tell John? 
This book does a lot of foreshadowing. Watch this clip to remind yourself of the technique of foreshadowing.  (This annotation contains a video)
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Read the poem Hap.  Do you think John's actions in the book so far support his belief in the poem's message?http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/175582 
Here is an image of such a saw to help you visualize. (This annotation contains a link)
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What was the gift? 
This is what kept John out of Vietnam, not his decision to move to Canada. This book loves mysteries. As the book comes to a close, what other mysteries could be solved? 

9. The Shot

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.3
John describes Hester’s personal journey from 1960s folk-signing protestor to 1980s music-video rock-and-roller, from being Hester Eastman to being Hester the Molester. John adds that “a deadly absence of irony” makes such a journey possible for her. What does he mean here?  
Ghosts are prominent in this novel. Remember the Dickens play. Is this another ghost reference? 
Is Owen Meany one of the valiant that taste of death only once? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.3
Owen Meany appeared to John in a ghost like form.  How do ghosts and Owen's mystical qualities change not only John but other characters in the book? 
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As the book is closing, reflect and recount about John's life.  What all does John owe to Owen? 
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John has stated over the novel that Owen brought him to faith.  How did Owen bring him to faith? 
A miracle is something that is impossible but yet happens. 
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The final two words of Chapter 6 are, in themselves, a question: “Remember that?” A  bit later, in the middle of chapter 7, we find another, similar aside: “Remember that? Remember then?In each case, who is John addressing? Us? Himself? Society? 
You can still request for hundredth birthdays to be recognized.  (This annotation contains a link)
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Why does Harriet Wheelwright keep saying throughout this book, “I would rather be murdered by a maniac ..." Can you recall when she starts using this expression? (Hint: John F. Kennedy’s assassination played a part in it.)  Is this ironic? Tragic? Strange? Pathetic? Is it somehow typical of our society today? Explain your view. 
Though John is annoyed with Ms. Pribst, his selection of Burmese Days over Animal Farm may show that political bias he was criticized for earlier in the novel. 
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How did Owen's amputation of John's finger change his life? 
This clip highlights Reagan's reactions to Vietnam protestors further. (This annotation contains a video)
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What has changed in John as he reads this argument? 
Here is a Catholic explanation of the immaculate conception. It would be seen as heresy that the Meany family claimed the same for Owen.  (This annotation contains a link)
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Did the revelation to Owen of his special birth set in motion all his decisions in the novel?  Support your answer. 
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One recurrent expression in this novel is “the shivers”—it might be an expression that was once more common in casual American conversation than it is today. What does it mean? What does it suggest Did reading A Prayer for Owen Meany ever give you the shivers? Explain why or why not.  
John always noted Merrill's academic approach more than his feeling of faith in the book. 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.2
Why and how does John Wheelwright learn the true identity of his father? Who is his father, and how does Owen Meany figure into this revelation? 
Foreshadowing is common in the novel as already noted. Here are questions to think about as the novel wraps up. Will Rev. Merrill regain his faith? Will John and he have a relationship? Will Owen continue to change their relationship? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.2
Tabby Wheelwright and Rev. Merrill have opposite approaches to guilt.  Compare two other characters in the play that feel guilty. 
Only wine from the namesake region of France can be legally recognized as champagne. 
More and more foreshadowing occurs. What will John do to help his father? 
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Why did Dan and John never talk about John's real father? 
John is mirroring Owen's style of public display here. 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.4
What are portulaca? 
Owen and John experienced JFK's, Martin Luther King's, and Bobby Kennedy's assassinations very closely together. What would it be like to experience that as a young person growing up in America? Since you saw JFK's assassination, look also at RFK's assassination.  (This annotation contains a video)
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The people of Gravesend mostly do not change over the course of the book.  What (in the view of our narrator, at least) are the town’s least attractive qualities? What are its chronic limitations?  
Review static and dynamic characters for the following question. (This annotation contains a video)
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What feelings toward Owen Meany are evident from Colonel Eiger throughout Owen's career? 
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What revelation changes the point of view of the audience toward Owen Meany's actions in the nativity play? 
The author takes time to remind us again of all the characters from Gravesend that had a small part in forming John and Owen's childhood experience. 
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What do Owen and Rev. Merrill now share? 
Rev. Merrill now believes that biblical miracles like resurrection are still possible. Read to learn of all those in the Bible that came back from the dead.  (This annotation contains a link)
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Military funerals are highly ritualistic. “Rituals are comforting,”John tells us in Chapter 6. “Rituals combat loneliness.” Why are they comforting? How do they fight against loneliness? Point out several scenes or personal experiences from throughout A Prayer for Owen Meany as related to at least two or three different characters that echo this point. 
This saying originated in Genesis 3:19: "By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground,since from it you were taken;for dust you are and to dust you will return.”  
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Why is belief still hard for John? 
Fort Huachuca is far away from John and Gravesend. Here it is on an interactive map. (This annotation has embedded rich content)
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What do we know of Harriet Wheelwright from the book? 
This is known as the Flag Protection Act of 1968. It was later found unconstitutional. 
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What do we know about John from his description of Arizona and other evidence from the book? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.1
How is this family vastly different from those in Gravesend? 
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What is Owen's fascination with palm trees? 
Here is an image of a bayonet attached to a gun. (This annotation contains an image)
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How did Owen's voice change the mood of the family? How has Owen's voice helped change the tone in other parts of the novel? 
This is quite a ways away. If he drove, it would take 40 hours. 
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What ongoing theme does the Major bring up again in the novel? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.4
What does the word indecent mean in this passage? 
Carbolic Acid is a poison. Check out the symptoms if ingested.  (This annotation contains a link)
Military accidents are very common.  (This annotation contains a link)
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Why would Owen not mind the spitting? 
This rifle was a military standard for decades and an iconic weapon in the 20th century. (This annotation contains an image)
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Near the very end of this novel we find a few scenes set against a grotesque, if not unsettlingly violent and unhealthy, low-income housing development in Arizona. What commentary, if any, does Irving’s novel seem to be making in these scenes about the state of modern American society, culture, and family life? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.1
How might the audience see irony in Owen's criticism of Dick and his future presidents? 
Las Vegas has the most expensive room service in the country. 
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What is the significance of Owen saying Watahanowet at this point? 
The average age of Vietnam vets killed in action was actually 23. 
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Why was the reason for Owen's voice? 
Here are some themes of the book being represented one last time. Consider these as you reflect on the novel: 1.Armlessness and amputation 2. Owen's voice 3. The shot 4. Owen's dream 5. John's role in the novel 
Here are the major arteries in the arm. (This annotation contains an image)
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Most of the themes of the book culminate here.  How did Owen's obsessions lead to his final heroic act? 
Quiz Three