The main plot of A Prayer for Owen Meany is presented in a series of flashbacks and reminiscences; many of the most important events are presented out of chronological sequence, so that it can be difficult to keep track of the story's timeline. What follows is an approximate chronology of key events in John's and Owen's lives. Using this chronology as a guide, it should be fairly easy to ascertain the date of almost any scene in the novel.

Early 1940s

John's mother performs at The Orange Grove, under the name "The Lady in Red."


John and Owen are born.


Dan Needham meets John's mother and moves to Gravesend.

July, 1952

Dan and John's mother are married.

Summer, 1953

Owen kills John's mother with the foul ball.

December, 1953

The Christmas pageant and A Christmas Carol; Owen plays the baby Jesus and the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come.


Mrs. Wheelwright acquires a television.

Summer, 1958

John and Owen get their driver's licenses.

Fall, 1958

John and Owen enter Gravesend Academy.

Fall, 1961

John and Owen travel to Boston to research John's mother's past.


Owen is increasingly at odds with Mr. White at the Academy; eventually he is expelled.

Summer, 1962

John graduates from Gravesend Academy; Owen graduates from the public high school.

Fall, 1962

John and Owen enter the University of New Hampshire, joining Hester there.


Owen concentrates on ROTC studies, hoping for a combat assignment in Vietnam.

Summer, 1966

Owen and John graduate from the university.


Owen amputates John's finger to keep him from having to go to Vietnam.

July, 1968

Owen is killed in the Phoenix airport.

Late summer, 1968

John discovers that Rev. Merrill is his father; Owen's funeral takes place.


John has applied for Canadian citizenship.

January, 1987

John begins writing his narrative.

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