A Prayer for Owen Meany Characters

A Prayer for Owen Meany Character List

Owen Meany

The titular character of the novel, Meany is described as a very small, pale, nebbishy character. As the result of a complication with the development of his larynx, he speaks in a notably high-pitched voice. He grows up in the 1950s in New Hampshire with the novel's narrator, John Wheelwright. The two spend large amounts of time together, growing into adolescence and going to school together. At a baseball game, Meany hits a foul ball that kills John's mother. Still, John and him remain friends. Though he is incredibly intelligent, Meany struggles with authority. He eventually is kicked out of his high school for fighting with the principal. As a result, he is forced to sign up for the Army to be able to attend university. He begins to have dreams of a deathly scenario in which he must intervene. That situation arises at the airport when he is going to be deployed to Vietnam. A man charges at a group of Vietnamese children with a grenade, though Meany tackles the grenade. He is able to muzzle the blow but is killed instantly.

John Wheelwright

Wheelwright is the narrator of the novel, writing backwards from his contemporary setting of 1987. At that time, he is an English teacher at a private school in Toronto. The novel occurs from John's memory. Unlike Meany, he is raised relatively wealthy. He bonds with Meany, who is both like a younger brother in stature but an older brother in terms of intelligence. John suffers from dyslexia, and admires Meany's natural brilliance. The two become inseparable. Even when Meany accidentally kills John's mother, the two remain friends. After graduation, John is deeply frightened of serving in the Vietnamese War. To avoid the draft, Meany assists John in mutilating his finger. John, however, is present when Meany is killed by the grenade. He spends the rest of his life believing that Meany was a divine figure, sent by God to protect the children.


Hester is John's cousin. Being only a year older than John, the two grow close. She is an impassioned and rebellious character, encouraging John to act brazenly. Later, her and Meany becoming romantically involved. She is a punk-style musician who grows famous with her act "Hester the Molester."

Mrs. Meany

Owen's mother is a deeply somber character. She speaks very little and goes outdoors even less. When Owen dies she spends the rest of her life draped in his memorial flag, sitting on a rocking chair.

Tabitha Wheelwright

Tabitha, John's mother, is an attractive and charming character. She welcomes Meany into her home and her family. Though the identity of John's father remains a secret, Wheelwright eventually marries Dan Needham. She is then killed by Meany's foul ball.

Dan Needham

John's stepfather is a drama teacher at the school him and Meany attend. Even after John's mom's death, Needham remains a positive father figure and helps raise John.

Dick Jarvits

Jarvits is the man who attends to kill the children at the airport, though only succeeds in killing Meany. He intends to avenge the death of his brother who died in Vietnam. He is killed by another officer in the airport conflict.

Harriet Wheelwright

Harriet is John's grandmother on his mother's side. She is a very proper wealthy who is very proud of her bloodline. It is suggested that she is ashamed of her daughter, John's mother, for not maintaining a relationship with John's father. Still, she plays a very active role in raising John, as well as Meany.

Dudley Wiggin

Wiggin is the minister in Gravesend. He is a very bombastic figure, and speaks boldly about Hell and redemption. He can be seen as the source of Meany's spirituality in the novel.

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