Date of Award


Publication Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name



English Language, Literature, and Creative Writing


Literature, American.




The novels of John Irving have never been studied as a whole. As a result, critics have never discovered a coherent thematic pattern linking Irving's body of work. The central focus of those critics who have dealt with Irving's novels has been the examination of minor image patterns and obvious symbolism. In 1989, Irving published his latest novel, A Prayer for Owen Meany. This novel, like the ones which precede it, is built upon a foundation of strong, vibrantly colourful characters who struggle to fulfill their dreams in a world filled with pain, misfortune, and random violence; a world in which nothing seems constant or within their spheres of control. All of Irving's characters are shaped by the uncertainty of their lives, by the vague, external force--or fate--which clearly manipulates the choices they make and the directions in which they move. This force, and the human struggle to acknowledge and then to deal with its presence, is the unifying element of all of Irving's novels. The focus of my thesis is the nature of this "force"--which manifests itself first as fate and finally, in Owen Meany, as God--and the way it shapes the stoic attitudes of all of Irving's characters. (Abstract shortened by UMI.)Dept. of English Language, Literature, and Creative Writing. Paper copy at Leddy Library: Theses & Major Papers - Basement, West Bldg. / Call Number: Thesis1992 .L346. Source: Masters Abstracts International, Volume: 31-04, page: 1497. Thesis (M.A.)--University of Windsor (Canada), 1992.