The Pigman Quotes

Instructor: Kerry Gray

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

Lorraine and John have a lot of growing up to do, but the relationship they share with Mr. Pignati goes a long way in helping them mature. In this lesson, we will examine some of the quotes from ''The Pigman'' by Paul Zindel.

Taking Responsibility

In The Pigman by Paul Zindel, two high school students, John and Lorraine, evolve into more responsible human beings through an unlikely friendship with a lonely widower. In the beginning, both seem to blame everyone around them for their bad behavior. For example, their parents lie, so they lie. Through their relationship with Mr. Pignati, they start to realize that adults are flawed people, but that we are all ultimately responsible for our outcomes. Let's take a closer look at this novel by examining some of the quotes within the text.

John's Lies

Have you ever known someone who caused a lot of problems, but nevertheless was so likable, they got away with it? John Conley is an attractive kid with lots of problems. First of all, his alcoholic father thought it was hilarious to ply him with alcohol as a child. Now that his father has liver disease, only John continues to drink. Additionally, John's older brother, Kenneth has followed in his father's footsteps by working in the family business on Wall Street, so his parents don't understand John's need for individualism and openly mock his decision to be an actor. As a result, John has become an angry kid who lives to fight against authority. He started with school disruptions, like 'Bathroom Bombs,' but evolved into telling huge elaborate lies. Lorraine muses, 'I think he used to distort things physically, and now he does it verbally more than any other way.'

Some of John's stories are to keep from getting in trouble, but a lot of what John says is purely for his own entertainment. John gets so caught up in his own stories that he starts to believe them. Lorraine narrates her analysis of John, 'His own life is so boring when measured against his daydreams that he can't stand it, so he makes up things to pretend it's exciting.'

Of course Lorraine doesn't blame John, she blames his parents. His dad tells lies to collect insurance money and his mom tells lies to get extra green stamps. Lorraine says, 'It's a kind of subconscious, schizophrenic fibbing, if you ask me, and if those parents don't have guilt complexes, I don't know who has. I only hope I won't be that kind of adult.'

Beginning to Think About Life and Lies

Have you ever tried to justify doing something you knew was wrong? When Lorraine's prank phone call to Mr. Pignati results in the offer of a donation to a false charity, Lorraine does not want to take his money, but John is able to persuade her. We all know that taking Mr. Pignati's money under false pretenses is wrong, but John is somehow able to justify his actions. 'I didn't want anyone really to take advantage of the old man. Some people might think that's what I was doing, but not the way Norton would have.' John thinks that by not telling Norton about Mr. Pignati, he will save the man some grief.

In the meantime, Lorraine can be convinced to take the money from Mr. Pignati, but judges her mother for taking food and cleaning supplies from the terminally ill people she cares for. 'I can't tell you what she'd do if I ever took anything, but she isn't even ashamed of what she does,' Lorraine writes about her mother. It is evident that both John and Lorraine are searching for a role model. They also have higher expectations for their parents than they have for themselves.

As they are beginning to get to know Mr. Pignati, John thinks a lot about his own mortality. One of his favorite places to go is the cemetery because it is well-cared for. One day, he lies on the grave looking at the stars and wonders about the decomposing body beneath him. John narrates, 'Then I got very sad because I knew I wasn't really wondering about the guy underneath me, whoever he was. I was just interested in what was going to happen to me.'

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