The Pigman Character Analysis

Instructor: Kerry Gray

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

Paul Zindel's 'The Pigman' is a novel of growing up and loss. Its central characters, John, Lorraine, and Mr. Pignati, share a special bond, but their family and friends also influence their decisions. In this lesson, we will examine the characters in the novel.

Family, Friends, and Acquaintances

The Pigman is the story of John and Lorraine, high school students, who form a special bond with Mr. Pignati, a lonely widower. While John, Lorraine, and Mr. Pignati's relationship is the focus of the novel, other characters, such as their parents and acquaintances play important roles. John and Lorraine need Mr. Pignati because they are not receiving the unconditional love and support they need from their parents. John and Lorraine have acquaintances that they hang out with, but they realize those are not true friendships. Let's learn more about the characters in this novel.

The Main Characters

The most relevant relationships exist between John, Lorraine, and Mr. Pignati.

  • John Conlan is good-looking, trouble maker. He drinks, smokes, argues with his parents. Lorrain describes John saying, 'He pretends he doesn't care about anything in the world, and he's always ready with some outrageous remark, but if you ask me, any real hostility he has is directed against himself.' He wants to be an actor someday and practices with constant lies. John most definitely takes advantage of Mr. Pignati, but he grows to really like him, too. More than anything, John wants to be appreciated for his individualism. That is something he only gets from Lorraine and Mr. Pignati.
  • Lorraine Jensen is sensitive and empathetic. Someday, she wants to be a writer. Lorraine is hesitant to get involved with Mr. Pignati, but can easily be persuaded by John, especially if it provides her an escape from her critical mother. John says, 'The way her old lady talks you'd think Lorraine needed internal plastic surgery and seventeen body braces, but if you ask me, all she needs is a little confidence.' Lorraine believes in omens and thinks that something is trying to warn them to be careful with Mr. Pignati. She feels sorry for Mr. Pignati, but really cares about him. She feels guilty when John takes advantage of Mr. Pignati and tries to act as his conscience.
  • Mr. Pignati is a reminder of what can happen to any of us as the people we build our world around die. John describes his first impression of Mr. Pignati, 'He was in his late fifties and was pretty big, and he had a bit of a beer stomach. But the part that slaughtered me was this great big smile on his face.' Mr. Pignati is lonely since the death of his wife, Conchetta. She was his whole world. Since then, he takes daily walks to the zoo to feed his best friend, Bobo, the orangutan. When Lorraine prank calls him, he is so desperate for human interaction that he invites them over. Mr. Pignati is welcoming, fun, and non-judgmental. He also provides the kids with wine and a place to escape. He even takes them to a department store to buy them things. Through John and Lorraine, he has an opportunity to relive his youth, but it is not without consequences. John and Lorraine call him the Pigman because of his huge pig figurine collection.

John and Lorraine's Dysfunctional Family

John and Lorraine are both pretty unhappy at home, which is a lot of the reason they enjoy their time with Mr. Pignati. Mr. Pignati represents everything they wish their parents aren't.

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