A Day No Pigs Would Die
How we cite our quotes:
"Well, you be friends with Mr. Tanner. Neighbors and all. But we keep this fence up like it was war. I guess that humans are the only things on earth that take everything they own and fence it off."
"Not true," Papa said.
"Animals don't put up fences."
"Yes, they do. In the spring, a female robin won't fly to a male until he owns a piece of the woods. He's got to fence it off."
"I didn't know that."
"Lots of times when you hear that old robin sing, what he's singing about is…keep off my tree. That whistle you hear is his fence." (3.7-12)
Papa says that fences—that is, rules and boundaries to keep people's business separated—are not only useful, but natural. And hey, Shmoop likes birds as much as the next person. If the robins do it, it's definitely good enough for us. (Except for the whole pooping on people's heads thing.)
"Then it isn't like war."
"It's a peaceable war. If I know Benjamin Franklin Tanner, he'd fret more than me if his cows found my corn. He'd feel worse than if it was the other way round."
"He's a good neighbor, Papa."
"And he wants a fence to divide his and mine, same as I do. He knows this. A fence sets men together, not apart." (3.17-20)
Part of being a good neighbor, to Papa, is making sure that you have structures in place to keep you and yours out of your neighbor's area. Sure, maybe bringing some brownies over once in a while will win you points, but generally, Papa thinks you should give people their space.
"We thank you, Brother Tanner," said Papa. "But it's not the Shaker Way to take frills for being neighborly. All that Robert done was what any farmer would do for another. It don't add up to payment or due." (3.39)
Okay, so they keep a respectful distance, but at the same time they're careful to be neighborly, lending a hand when needed (even if that hand ends up being bitten by an angry cow). Sound complicated? Well, in A Day No Pigs Would Die, it's all just part of the bargain.