Environment And Environment In John Irving's A Prayer For Owen Meany

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Does environment shape moral and psychological traits? Are humans born inherently with pre-determined qualities and ways of thought? The debate of nature versus nurture, whether humans are born with a set of moral traits or whether one’s environment influences and shapes their traits, has constantly been argued, not only from a psychological standpoint, but also from a literary perspective as well. In A Prayer for Owen Meany, John Irving explores the relationship between environment and the development of psychological traits and personal conceptions, using both animate objects, like voice and people, and inanimate objects, such as armless objects and family influences, to prove the often powerful, yet overlooked influence of environment on human development; in the process, exploring and linking the universal themes of fate versus free will. Despite his regular…show more content…
Despite being different from the norm, Meany embraces his voice and the notion associated with it, even creating a school paper at Gravesend Academy, his high school, called “The Voice”. Owen’s voice, naturally high-pitched, always seems to calm the environment he’s in and hold a degree of authority. His voice constantly allows Owen to command the attention of his peers, directly alternating his environment no matter the circumstances. During Owen’s very first encounter with John’s cousins, “Simon appeared committed to pedaling the sewing machine into destruction - both hands gripping the tabletop, his eyes squinted shut against Noah’s pounding firsts, his knees pumping…furiously” (68). All havoc was breaking loose. However, the moment Owen spoke, John’s cousin’s “movements were suddenly arrested…the hairs on the backs of their neck, they froze” (69). Owen’s voice not only asserts his presence in the room, but automatically draws all the

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