A Day No Pigs Would Die
How we cite our quotes:
Strong hands were touching my legs now, and then my ribs. I tried to say something about not being in school. Somebody had some warm water and washed my face with it. The water had lilac in it, and smelled right restful.
"We're beholding to you, Benjamin Tanner," said Papa, "for fetching him home. Whatever he done, I'll make it right." (2.8)
This is the first time we encounter Papa in the book, and we immediately get a strong sense of his character and his priorities. It's clearly very important to him that he "make right" whatever bad thing he thinks Rob has done. In the world of A Day No Pigs Would Die, that's just a father's job.
You just smell like hard work. (2.91-92)
Aren't you glad your dad doesn't come home smelling like a dead pig every day? However badly Papa stinks, though, the important thing is that he's doing what needs to be done: working hard to support his family. Even if you'd really rather not sit next to him at dinner.
"As to the work, what matters is that we have the back to do it. Some days I get the notion that I can't knife even one more of Clay Sander's pigs. Yet I always do, 'cause it's got to be done. It's my mission."
"Papa, is that the mission they preach on at Meeting?"
"It is. And every man must face his own mission. Mine is pigs." (4.107-109)
Mission: Pigs. It's no Tom Cruise flick, but for Papa, it's the real thing. Without his duty to slaughter pigs, his family wouldn't be able to survive.