A Day No Pigs Would Die
"I guess I'll never have a coat like that. Can I?"
"You can. When you earn one. You'll be a man one day. One day soon."
"Someday," I said.
"It can't be someday, Rob. It's got to be now. This winter. Your sisters are gone, all four are wedded and bedded. Your two brothers are dead. Born dead and grounded in our orchard. So it's got to be you, Rob."
"Why are you saying this, Papa?"
"Because, son. Because this is my last winter." (12.87-92)
"It's got to be you, Rob. Your mother and Carrie can't do it alone. Come spring, you aren't the boy of the place. You're the man. A man of thirteen. But no less a man. And whatever has to be done on this land, it's got to be did by you, Rob. Because there'll be nobody else, boy. Just you." (12.102)
Papa was breathing the way no man or beast should breathe. I had never seen any man work as fast. I knew his hands must of been just about froze off; but he kept working, with no gloves. At last he stopped, pushing me away from the pork and turning me around so as my back was to it. He stood close by, facing me, and his whole body was steaming wet with work. I couldn't help it. I started thinking about Pinky. My sweet big clean white Pinky who followed me all over. She was the only thing I ever really owned. The only thing I could point to and say…mine. But now there was no Pinky. Just a sopping wet lake of red slush. So I cried.
"Oh, Papa. My heart's broke."
"So is mine," said Papa. "But I'm thankful you're a man." (14.28-30)