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The Pigman/Short Plot

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The Pigman

They're all dead: Pigman's wife, Lorraine's father, John's Aunt Ahra, the Master sons, Lorraine's mother's patients, Bobo, and the Pigman himself. All the while, the living move about like baboons in cages they've made for themselves.


That's the big question. The answer is central to understanding Paul Zindel'sThe Pigman. We and our students can address this problem, all the while gaining insight into literature and the makeup of the novel. This article provides activities to acquaint students with literary elements, while building up to a dramatic presentation. During this process, the students can experience the dilemmas presented in The Pigman and come to an understanding of the main characters and themselves.

The Story

The Pigman is a story about John and Lorraine, high school sophomores who, not getting what they need from their families, must surreptitiously seek love, reassurance, and meaning on the outside. In each other and Mr. Pignati (the Pigman), owner of a porcelain pig collection, they find love and reassurance; the meaning they find in themselves, in the unfolding of their relationship with Mr. Pignati and the drama leading to his death.

John, a handsome and wild boy, drinks and smokes excessively; and, as Lorraine points out, only his good looks have kept him out of reform school. Lorraine, a shy girl John's own age, has low self-esteem and mild paranoia. John becomes attracted to her because he sees in her the same spontaneous, crazy quality that he has and no one else seems to share.

John and Lorraine meet Mr. Pignati via a phone game to see who can keep a stranger on the line the longest. They get a $10.00 donation for a bogus charity and feel guilty about it, since they perceive how lonely the Pigman is. To make up for taking the money, they take Pigman to feed his only friend in the world, Bobo, an incredibly bad-tempered baboon.

Mr. Pignati, as he shows them his pig collection that once belonged to his deceased



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