Lorraine Jensen's Mother in The Pigman

Instructor: Kerry Gray

Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.

In ''The Pigman'' by Paul Zindel, teenagers John and Lorraine view their relationship with Mr. Pignati as an opportunity to escape from their unhappy homes. In this lesson, we will learn more about Lorraine's relationship with her mother.

Mother's Misery

What would cause someone who once seemed vibrant and happy to become miserable and difficult to be around? Lorraine's mother in Paul Zindel's The Pigman is an example of this type of downhill transformation. Lorraine, one of the teenage protagonists in this novel, does whatever it takes to escape being at home with her mother, not because she doesn't love her mother, but because Mother is hateful, critical, and confused about what really matters. Let's examine Mother's character in The Pigman.

Mother's Issues with Men

Who do you know that hates an entire group of people because of one or two bad experiences? Lorraine's mother has been holding all men accountable for the actions of her ex-husband for fifteen years. Their split was devastating.

Lorraine's parents were high school sweethearts that seemed to have found their happy ending. It was a surprise to everyone when her father developed an STD while her mother was pregnant with Lorraine. It didn't take long for Lorraine's father's affair to come to light. Lorraine's parents were legally separated for 9 years until her father's death 6 years ago. Lorraine narrates, 'She never talks about him now--just how awful men are in general. She's what the psychologists call fixated on the subject.'

Mother does what she can to try to pass her feelings about men onto Lorraine. She tries to keep Lorraine under lock and key because she is sure that every boy Lorraine comes into contact with has 'only got one thing on their minds.'

In her effort to protect Lorraine from these vile creatures, she is constantly telling Lorraine stories about her patients and patients' spouses that can't keep their hands to themselves. Mother is hypersensitive when it comes to Lorraine walking alone, riding in cars with boys, and wearing short skirts.

Lorraine believes that her mother's message is, 'Beware of men…They have dirty minds, and they're only after one thing. Rapists are roaming the earth.'

Criticisms of Lorraine

Perhaps it is because of her own fears about men that Mother is so critical of Lorraine? After all, if Lorraine does not think she is desirable, then she will be less likely to get involved with boys, right? Lorraine says, '…I'm not exactly the most beautiful girl in the world… Just ask my mother.' As a result of her low self-esteem, Lorraine feels lucky that a good-looking guy like John has any interest in being her friend.

She remembers her mother saying, 'You're not a pretty girl, Lorraine… but you don't have to walk about stoop-shouldered and hunched.' Mother complains about Lorraine's frizzy hair, weight, and clothes to the point that every time someone glances her way, Lorraine is sure they are appalled by her appearance. John hates that Lorraine's mother talks to her that way and thinks that all she needs is confidence.

Misses the Mark on What's Important

At the end of your life, how do you want people to remember you? Lorraine's mother is attractive and hardworking, but along the way, she has lost her sense of compassion for other people. Lorraine thinks her mother would be more beautiful if she smiled, but she doesn't do that very often anymore and she isn't any fun.

Lorraine feels sorry for her mother because she works so hard, but still struggles to make ends meet, but Lorraine does not approve of her mother's solution. Mother steals food and cleaning supplies from the people who hire her to treat their terminally ill loved ones, claiming that it makes up for the low wages they pay her. 'I can't tell you what she'd do if I ever took anything, but she isn't even ashamed of what she does. She figures they don't pay her enough, so she'll even it up her own way,' complains Lorraine.

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