The Pigman Themes

Instructor: Kaitlin Oglesby
Ultimately, 'The Pigman' tackles a number of themes that are not necessarily characteristic for the young adult genre. In this lesson, we'll take a look at the themes that runs through the novel.

The Pigman

One of the most controversial books in the young adult canon, The Pigman by Paul Zindel explores a number of themes that are quite advanced. Far from being a coming of age book about the joys in life, The Pigman in many ways focuses on life's disappointments, especially those that are the result of previous actions. In this lesson, we will take a look at a number of themes of The Pigman, focusing especially on the fact that much of what life has to offer can be negative at times.

Growing Up and Holding On

Two of the main protagonists in The Pigman, John and Lorraine, are teenagers as the book opens. In fact, they meet a man named Mr. Pignati, better known as the Pigman, by doing prank phone calls. Mr. Pignati is lonely, with the love of his life dead, which is something he cannot admit. His only friend is a baboon named Bobo at the zoo. John and Lorraine change that for Mr. Pignati, and in turn, they change as well. Over the course of the book, the two mature greatly, then ultimately see what a lapse in maturity can cause. This theme of growing up is one that young readers can identify with easily.

Growing up also means growing old, which is something that Mr. Pignati has certainly done. In many ways, he holds on to the past. He refuses to publicly admit that his wife is dead, insisting for some time that she is simply on vacation. Ultimately, what causes him a great deal of heartache is seeing his few remaining links to the past, namely his pig figurines and a baboon at the zoo, disappear.

Loss and Death

Mr. Pignati certainly does experience loss. He is pushed into the state of a reclusive old man by the loss of his wife, and ultimately seeing his figurines destroyed and the baboon he feels an affinity with die cause him to die himself.

Mr. Pignati is not the only one to experience loss, however. John and Lorraine grow quite attached to the man, and ultimately blame themselves for his death. They feel a loss of their own childhoods, when actions were without consequence, and now feel truly guilty as a result. Additionally, they are at a loss with their own relationship with each other.

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