Could I write a 10 page paper on "A Prayer for Owen Meany"? I have a research/analytical paper that has to be on a book by a New England author. (The author has to have a or some major connections...

Could I write a 10 page paper on "A Prayer for Owen Meany"? I have a research/analytical paper that has to be on a book by a New England author. (The author has to have a or some major connections to New England, such as living there.) I have Dan Brown reserved so I could do him but I can also do John Irving and he even calls some people back for interviewing. Now the question is: for anyone who has read A Prayer For Owen Meany, could I write around a 10 page paper on the book? Otherwise, I am not sure if I should do Dan Brown.

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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John Irving's novel A Prayer for Owen Meany is certainly a novel with depth enough for ten pages. The historical context of this novel is critically important to the themes of disillusionment, especially as they are connected to fate and destiny, religious faith and skepticism.  You may wishe to look over the enotes summaries and other aspects of discussion regarding this work.  See these links:


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rrteacher | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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You would need to establish what you believe are the most important themes of the novel (e.g. faith, whether life has purpose, fate, self-sacrifice, etc.) and give each an extended discussion based on textual examples from the book. Another possibility, in fact you could do it in the same essay, would be to analyze how the narrative structure of the book affects the way we read it, its message, and so on. You could also examine how the author views some of the historical events depicted in the book. Unlike a Dan Brown novel, in my humble opinion, there is much of importance to discuss in this one.

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Yes, you definitely can. I would personally much rather opt for John Irving who is in every way a much better author than Dan Brown. The key to achieving success in this endeavour is to work hard on planning your paper and researching the issues you wish to write about. You need to draw up a specific and precise thesis statement and then a detailed essay plan which will guide you through the writing of your paper. At the end of the day, this is a brilliant book that touches on so many themes, such as faith and love and relationships, and you could start by thinking about what the novel says about these three issues. Good luck and enjoy!

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vangoghfan | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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The simple answer is "Yes."  A ten-page page on almost any novel would be very easy to do, if only because novels give you quite a bit to work with.  Since a focus on themes has already been suggested, I'd suggest that you consider writing about this topic: why and how is this novel effectively written?  What makes it worth reading as a novel?  If Irving had wanted to deal with themes, he could have written an essay.  Why did he choose to write a novel? What makes this novel a powerful use of the English language? Novelists know very little more about themes than almost anyone else does.  Novelists -- or at least talented novelists -- do know how to write novels.  What makes this book a novel worth reading (rather than a discussion of ideas)?

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literaturenerd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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I must agree that writing a ten page paper on any text is manageable. The only way to insure that this is "doable" is considering what from the text is worth ten pages. One can use a text to make a greater point about similar ideologies in life in general. While I am sure the paper is literary based, given the naming of the text, support of the thesis decided upon needs to have both textual and researched evidence.

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litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I don't think you could write a 10 page paper about Dan Brown's books.  I think this choice is better.  It is a much richer book.  Are you writing about the influence of New England on the book?  Researching the author might help, in that case.

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lmetcalf | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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This is a great book with a lot to consider.  I think the opening chapter of the novel presents several of the key themes you could write about: religion and faith and where that comes from; the connection between friends John and Owen; John's family situation. Being told by a first person narrator, in flashback is interesting structurally. You could write an essay about some of the choices the author makes and the effect they have -- you could consider such things as the first person narrator, the flashbacks, the use of foreshadowing, the use of all capitalization for Owen's voice, the use of symbolism (like arm-lessness) etc. What is important is that you have a point you are trying to prove -- a thesis statement-- that is interesting and arguable.

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stolperia | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Certainly, it would be very possible to write a paper of that length on that book. The larger question is if you can identify a thesis statement based on the story that you are interested in pursuing and researching to that depth.

You could use segments of the novel as illustrations for ways in which the Vietnam War affected life attitudes and actions in the US during the time period of the story. Research regarding anti-war protests and pro-war demonstrations and discussions could be made very relevant to the story.

You could explore the development, expression, and loss of religious faith in relationship to the characters in the story. Examining how different religious faiths respond to the kinds of questions Owen addresses could be another perspective.

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