John Irving Summer Book Study discussion

A Prayer for Owen Meany > Symbolism--the armadillo

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message 1: by Abby (new)

Abby (abbykidd) | 3 comments Mod
I'm about 100 pages into this book and have enjoyed it a great deal so far. Of course, I've always been entertained by the antics and humor of little boys, and this book is full of it! It is also riddled with symbolism. Some of these symbols are immediately obvious, some of them are even explained outright, but the armadillo caught me a little off guard. It's clearly meant to have a deeper meaning from the moment it is introduced, and it becomes an object of significance to both boys. In some ways, the armadillo reminds me of Owen--it's funny-looking and a little scary at first, but ultimately it brings people together. It strengthens the bond between the boys and is passed between them as a show of friendship after Owen hits the fated baseball that kills John's mother. It also creates a bond between Dave, and John, which proves to be of utmost importance in the absence of John's father.

Did anybody else who's read this or seen the movie have any insights as to the symbolism of the armadillo? What other Irving symbols have you scratching your head?

message 2: by Becca (new)

Becca (beccamillott) | 1 comments I believe the armadillo certainly plays a symbolic role in the story, although I think the deepest understanding of it can't come until you've finished the book (or gotten much further in.)

In my opinion, it ties in with other similar symbols throughout the book.

message 3: by Abby (new)

Abby (abbykidd) | 3 comments Mod
Ah, after having finished the book, the emphasis on armlessness is obviously the focus of this and other objects. The armlessness theme seemed strong right in the beginning and became strong again toward the end with the statue that Owen "dis-arms" (if you will) and of course the final scene. I thought the themes and symbolism that ran throughout the book were tied together beautifully in the final chapter. I liked the book before the final chapter, but I loved it once I read the final chapter.

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