Mr. Pignati in The Pigman: Quotes & Characteristics

Instructor: Erica Schimmel

Erica has taught college English writing and literature courses and has a master's degree in children's literature.

Teenagers John and Lorraine are forever changed after befriending Mr. Pignati, the Pigman in Paul Zindel's book ''The Pigman''. But who is Mr. Pignati? In this lesson, we'll learn some of the qualities that so affected the teenagers' lives.

The Pigman

Have you ever prank-called someone? If you have, you expect your prank call to provide a few laughs or maybe some punishment if you're caught. You certainly don't expect to actually meet the person you prank-call. In John Conlan and Lorraine Jensen's case, though, that is exactly what happens. Meeting Mr. Angelo Pignati, the man on the other end of the prank call, leads to a friendship that forever changes the teenagers' lives.

Mr Pignati is a retired electrician in his late 50s, the kind of ordinary man you see in line at the grocery store. So, what about him is so special? Let's spend some time getting to know him better by looking at his characteristics and some quotations in The Pigman by Paul Zindel.

First Impressions

The Voice on the Phone

We first meet Mr. Pignati when Lorraine chooses his number for a prank call. Mr. Pignati is more than just a voice on the other end of the phone, though. His personality shines through to Lorraine as ''jolly'' and ''bubbling.'' He is excited to tell Lorraine jokes, though she's a complete stranger. As jolly as Mr. Pignati sounds, though, his voice begins making Lorraine feel sad. She realizes he's ''such a nice old man, but terribly lonely.''

Face to Face

It turns out Mr. Pignati, or the Pigman as John and Lorraine begin to call him, has a smile to match his voice on the phone. When the teenagers first meet Mr. Pignati in person, he wears such a ''great big smile on his face'' that John ''thought his eyes were going to twinkle out of his head.'' It seems the Pigman nearly always has a smile ''stretched clear across his face.'' This ''enormous'' smile is one of Mr. Pignati's defining characteristics.

Mr. Pignati has a generous heart to go along with his warm smile. When John and Lorraine agree to go with the Pigman to the zoo, he insists on buying them snacks. He is excited to share some of his favorite treats with them, but is just as excited for them to ''pick out some things you'd like to try.'' His generosity continues through the story. Later, even when Mr. Pignati is in the hospital after suffering a heart attack, he tells the teens to help themselves to whatever is in the house.

Unearthing the Deeper Pigman

A Messy Man

As nice as the Pigman is, he wouldn't win an award for best housekeeper. John and Lorraine pause for a moment when they first see Mr. Pignati's ''phenomenal dump.'' Though ''the house had a nice warm smell,'' it was packed full of ''old junk,'' they notice.

It seems Mr. Pignati is a bit of a hoarder. Of everything there, Mr. Pignati most treasures his collection of pig statues. In one of his back rooms, Mr. Pignati displays ''glass pigs and clay pigs and marble pigs'' in all different colors and sizes from countries all over the world. He got his wife started on this collection before they were married as a joke on what would become their shared last name: ''Pig. Pignati.''

The Hole Left by Mrs. Pigman

Mr. Pignati also explains that his wife, Conchetta, usually keeps the house tidier, but she is currently visiting her sister in California. Later in the story, though, he admits to John and Lorraine that Conchetta is actually dead. The Pigman is grieving deeply for her. While she was alive, he says, they didn't need other people because they ''were each other's life.'' They enjoyed interesting foods, jokes, and trips to the zoo together.

It explains why he is so excited to have company again, especially young company who appreciates his fun-loving side. With John and Lorraine, the ''longer he knew us, the more of a kid he became.'' Though some people might look down on an older man playing games and spending time with teenagers, Lorraine wonders whether ''he knew something about love and having fun that other people didn't.''

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