The Pigman's John Conlan: Quotes & Character Description

Instructor: Kerry Gray

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

John Conlan, one of the two narrators of ''The Pigman'' by Paul Zindel, is the kind of guy that needs to stand out of the crowd. In this lesson, we will discuss John's character by looking at some of his quotes from the novel.

Struggling for Relevancy

Have you ever known someone who went out of their way to be unpredictable? John Conlan, one of the protagonists of The Pigman by Paul Zindel, is one of those people. His biggest fear is becoming irrelevant. Let's examine some of John's quotes from the story to find out how he makes sure people notice him.

Who Is John Conlan?

John is a kid who is mad at the world. At one time, his father was an alcoholic and thought it was hilarious to see his little kid drinking, but after his father, Bore, developed liver disease, he changed. John noticed that as soon as Bore quit drinking, his parents became old and boring. John continues to drink and smoke, while fighting to keep from becoming boring like his parents. Going out of his way to wreak chaos at school, John claims, '...I hate school, but then again most of the time I hate everything.'

John, does, however, have a lot of confidence. He is attractive and he knows it. John confirms, 'Like Lorraine told you, I really am very handsome and do have fabulous eyes.' Lorraine thinks that John's looks help him get away with all the trouble he causes, but John doesn't believe that works with everyone. His parents aren't charmed by him at all.

John's mother is obsessed with keeping a perfect house more than she is with being a perfect mother. She doesn't care if John drinks, as long as he rinses the glass. John goes out of his way to be contrary to his parents even when it doesn't matter. John says, 'Whenever she tells me to get a glass of milk, I feel like a Pepsi and vice versa.'

More to Life and Death

Fearful of turning out like his parents, John looks for an escape. One of the places his friends frequent is the graveyard where they hang out and drink beer. John reasons, 'I think cemeteries are one of the loveliest places to be - if you're not dead, of course. The hills and green grass and flowers are much nicer than what you get when you're alive.'

However, his fascination with graveyards is much more existential than that. While contemplating the degree of decay in the corpses below, John admits, 'I'm looking for anything to prove that when I drop dead there's a chance I'll be doing something a little more exciting than decaying.' Again, John reveals his fear of monotony over everything else.

John's father doesn't understand why John is so intent on becoming an actor instead of doing something safe, like taking over the family business. He doesn't understand that John equates safe with tedium. Bore only mocks John when John tells him, 'Oh Dad, can't you see all I want to do is be individualistic?'


In contrast, Mr. Pignati and Lorraine seem to be the only people that think it is okay for John to be completely absurd. John so appreciates having an adult that understands him that when Norton, an acquaintance of John's, threatens to break into Mr. Pignati's house, John thinks, '...I knew I'd kill Norton if he tried to hurt the old man.'

Through his relationship with Mr. Pignati, John becomes willing to explore new possibilities. Mr. Pignati feeds off of John and Lorraine's youthful vibrancy, while John is willing to consider growing up. While Mr. Pignati is in the hospital, John and Lorraine play house, but not in a typical way. John dresses up in Mr. Pignati's clothes and chases Lorraine through the house saying, 'I am a handsome European businessman, and you are in love with me!' They enjoy a romantic dinner together, but John grows agitated with the more mundane aspects of family life, like doing dishes and taking out the trash.

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