The Pigman

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The Pigman
N24680.jpg
Author Paul Zindel
Country USA
Language English
Genre Young Adult literature
Publisher Harper Trophy
Publication date
1968-10-12
Media type Print (Hardback & Paperback)
Pages 166 pages
ISBN 978-0-06-075735-9
OCLC 58968588
LC Class CPB Box no. 2360 vol. 13
Followed by The Pigman's Legacy (1980)
The Pigman & Me (1990)

The Pigman is a young adult novel written by Paul Zindel, first published in 1968. Zindel wrote a screenplay, adapting the book for the stage and screen, but it was not taken up by any film maker.

The novel is frequently assigned in elementary schools, middle schools, and some high schools as assignments for English classes.

Significane of the Tittle[edit]

The tittle of this Young Adult Novel, "The Pigman," does not accurately describe what this book portrays. The story of The Pigman describes the life and hardships of Angelo Pignati. Being portrayed as a simple old man, his life is more interesting and gratifying than seen at his first appearance. His nickname comes from a great collection of pig statues seen inside one of his rooms, which are some of The Pigman's prize possessions. Even though his name may be deceiving, the layered story of The Pigman portrays much more than a man with statues of animals, as these statues do not nearly begin to tell his story.

Plot summary[edit]

The novel begins with an "oath" signed by John Conlan and Lorraine Jensen, two high school sophomores, who pledge that they will report only the facts about their experiences with Mr. Pignati.

When John, Lorraine, and two teen troublemakers, Norton Kelly and Dennis Kobin make prank phone calls, Lorraine picks out Mr. Pignati's phone number and pretends to be calling from a charity. After a long conversation with him, Mr. Pignati offers to donate ten dollars. Against Lorraine's better judgement, John and her travel to his house to collect the funds. After hesitantly accepting "The Pigman's" offer of going to the zoo, a friendship begins to blossoms between the three of them. He begins to take on the role of a parental-figure for the two teenagers, something neither of them were seen to have.

John and Lorraine's visits become increasingly frequent, and during one such visit, they discover the document inside his room. After reading it, they realize The Pigman has been lying this entire time about where his wife has been. Mr. Pignati's wife, Conchetta, is dead, instead of being on vacation as The Pigman has stated numerous times. Soon, John and Lorraine visit The Pigman daily after school, and he showers them with gifts, food, and most importantly, the love and attention they do not receive in their own joyless homes. They reveal to him that they were never affiliated with any charity, and he reveals what they already know the truth about his wife, that she is actually dead.

One of the most important gifts the kids receive are a pair of roller skates. Getting a pair for himself also, the three of them could not be happier, until one afternoon. Mr. Pignati suffers a heart attack while he and the teens are playing tag with roller skates, and is sent to the hospital; John and Lorraine agree to take care of his house while he recovers. While they are taking care of the house, they both resemble that of a married couple. Between the responsibilities and numerous chores, they love being inside the house. The true betrayal comes when John invites theirso called friends over to Mr. Pignati's house. The situation quickly turns into a drunken, boisterous party. Lorraine's friend rips one of Conchetta Pignati's dresses. Norton ransacks Mr. Pignati's house and destroys Conchetta's collection of porcelain pigs, which Mr. Pignati holds very dear to him. John beats him up in retaliation.

Mr. Pignati returns to find his house ransacked, and is incredibly hurt when he finds out John and Lorraine were responsible for the incident. Feeling terrible, the two offer to take him to the zoo to help make up for it. When they arrive at the zoo to meet Bobo, they discover that Bobo the baboon, Mr. Pignati's favorite animal and buddy, has died. Overcome with grief and the heaviness of the recent events, Mr. Pignati suffers a cardiac arrest and dies, leaving John and Lorraine grieving and reflecting on the fragility of life. John and Lorraine write their story down.

Themes[edit]

Family and Parenting- Throughout the story both John and Lorraine do not know a parental figure. Physically both of them have parents (john having his mother and father, Lorraine having her mother), but mentally they are not there for them. John has two parents who do not care what he does and are very self-centered. Both let him smoke and drink and show him that there will be no repercussions for his actions. This makes John partake in troublesome actions much more than anyone usual would, simply trying to get his parent's attention. While his efforts fail each time, he does not give up, and ironically only rebels in such a harsh manner wishing his parents paid attention to him. Lorraine only lives with her mother, due to her father leaving them a long time ago. Her mother is not a great parental figure, seen to be mocking and ridiculing her daughter constantly throughout the story.

Characters[edit]

  • John Conlan (Bathroom Bomber) - The male protagonist who narrates the odd-numbered chapters. John is something of an anti-hero, as he uses his intelligence, looks, and charm for personal gain. He aspires to be an actor, but currently fuels his creativity with pranks, though most of them are benign.
  • Lorraine Jensen - The female protagonist, who narrates the even numbered chapters. Lorraine aspires to be a writer or a psychologist, and her sensitive, analytical nature provides a counterbalance to John's impulsiveness. She is socially awkward, different, and has a low self-esteem.
  • Angelo Pignati (The Pigman) - An elderly widower who lives in a messy house in John and Lorraine's neighborhood. His eponymous nickname comes from his last name, as well as his vast collection of ceramic pigs. Described as lonely since the death of his wife, his friendship with John and Lorraine fills a void in his life. The Pigman also found Lorraine and John quite generous and admired them. One of Mr. Pignati's only friends before John and Lorraine is a baboon at a local zoo named Bobo.
  • Bore - John's father. Bore is a commodities trader and although the stress of the job is detrimental to his health, he still pressures John to follow in his footsteps. He was a heavy drinker until he developed cirrhosis of the liver. One of John's lifelong goals is to become an actor, but his father refuses and forces him to be a business man
  • The Old Lady - John's mother. It is suggested that she may have obsessive-compulsive disorder, as she is fixated on cleaning, which she uses as a coping mechanism for the tension between her husband and son.
  • Norton Kelly - A classmate of John and Lorraine and the main antagonist. Described as a barbarian by the protagonists, Norton spends much of his time stealing, and is convinced there are valuables inside the Pignati household.
  • Dennis Kobin - Norton's follower. Best friends with Norton, but not as important as him in the book.
  • Lorraine's mother - Critical of her daughter. Accuses her of being fat and constantly tells her "you're not a pretty girl, Lorraine". After she discovered that her husband was cheating on her, she filed for a divorce, then later he died. She never got over that, though, and now she thinks that all men are evil. She constantly warns Lorraine of men and boys, saying "they have only one thing on their mind"
  • '"Bobo'" - The Baboon that the Pigman goes to see constantly when visiting the zoo. The Pigman has a great deal of love for this monkey, as he is one of the few living creatures he can look forward to seeing. He always feed Bobo and makes sure that he is completely comfortable in his enviorment. His death later on in the story is something The Pigman cannot handle, as this had been one of his greatest friends in a very long time.

See also[edit]

Bibliography[edit]

  • Zindel, Paul (1968). The Pigman (2005 ed.). New York: HarperCollins. ISBN 9780062272447. 

References[edit]

External links[edit]