Sunday, February 24, 2008

Owen Meany - Chapter 3

If I were a book, I would be A Prayer for Owen Meany, by John Irving.

We're taking a chapter a week, posted on Sunday mornings. Click for the posts on Chapter One and Chapter Two.

(Take the Book Quiz yourself at the Blue Pyramid.)

I particularly enjoyed Owen's enjoyment of the panty situation in Chapter 3.

He's so small and unusual that you do feel protective toward him, and it's nice to see him best the cousins at their own kind of game. But that's not really what I found attractive about this part of the story. Owen is so able to take care of himself emotionally that the physical indignities he suffers don't matter that much, so while his "win" is nice, it's not the point.

I loved that part mainly because Owen was having fun. You don't see a lot of that in this book.

(Apologies to those of you who dislike the word "panties" - it wasn't me, it was John Irving.)

So that was my favorite part of this chapter. As you know, I'm hosting a quilt retreat at the moment, so for today I'll just give you a few quotes that I found particularly apt or expressive and leave the symbolism and analysis to you-all this week.

As in many things, my mother could be extremely accomplished without being in the least original or even intuitive.
Notice that he doesn't say his mother was not creative.

I love this quote because, even though I consider myself both original and intuitive, this observation describes my view of translation.

I kind of liked the fact that, as a translator, my job was confined to restating what other people had said. I was often able to improve the text, so that the English translation was superior in quality to the Spanish original, but I never ever changed the content or, unless requested, even the mood of the information being communicated.

My Aunt Martha--like many Americans--could become quite tyrannical in the defense of democracy.
No explanation necessary.

Chaos disturbed her; mayhem was mayhem, even if people were having a good time; bad weather was bad weather, even if no one seemed to mind.
This statement does not describe me personally, but isn't it great? You just know the type.

Mrs. Hoyt was the first person I remember who said that to criticize a specific American president was not anti-American; that to criticize a specific American policy was not antipatriotic; and that to disapprove of our involvement in a particular war against the communists was not the same as taking the communists' side.
Timely, huh?

This book was published in 1989. Twenty years later, people are still having to point this out.

Canon Mackie says I worry about "mere words" too much. Mere words?

I love his incomprehension. Mere words.

Words are my best medium. They can be meaningless, and they can be misused, but here on the Internet, they're what we've got. Whole relationships can spring up and flourish around mere words.


Phydeaux February 24, 2008 9:36 AM  

Words are, indeed, very powerful. There's nothing mere about them.

As you may gather from my comment on last week's chapter, that second-to-last last quote above was also one of my favorite parts.

I'm also (first-time reader, remember) getting very curious as to what the "present" John is talking about - what has happened to him in Toronto, what evil he has done.

Reckon I'll just have to keep reading to find out, eh?

Brave Sir Robin February 24, 2008 12:09 PM  

Words, They're not just a bunch of letters.

And yes, They're what we've got.

pidomon February 24, 2008 1:24 PM  

overall loved chapter three. The wedding the funeral and loved seeing the cousins again.

One phrase though really jumped out at me (I find myself highlighting certain sentences or phrases in sentences as I read) was when speaking of Mr Merril "he reassured us doubt was the essence of faith, and not faith's opposite".

I'm still not sure why that hit me but will keep pondering until I do figure it out.

lisa February 25, 2008 7:48 AM  

I liked when they were riding in the back of the truck. The sweat drying, the sand blowing around on a hot night. You can really feel it. Then they're almost back home and Hester says

I could drive like this all night. I could drive to the beach and back. It feels so good. It's the only way to feel cool. And Owen whacks the truck cab and says DRIVE TO THE BEACH!

Squeezing a little more life out of a perfect moment. I like that.

I found this book at another thrift store the other day. A really nice copy too. Too bad I didn't need it!

Anonymous April 09, 2008 10:05 PM  

did anyone else think owen meany was black? and i don't mean that in any offensive way or anything. just throughout the entire book, i kept thinking he was an african-american, even though i knew he was white. i really can't explain why.. just was wondering if anyone else had a similar experience.

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