A Day No Pigs Would Die
How we cite our quotes:
Papa fished around in his pocket.
"Here's two beads of spruce gum. One's for me. But I don't mention you'd want one."
"Yes, I sure would. Please."
"Here, then. Might help you forget where those prickers are nested."
"It's helping already. Thanks, Papa."
The spruce gum was hard and grainy at first. Then the heat of your mouth begins to melt it down so that it's worth the chewing. The bit that Papa gave me was rich and full of sappy juices. Except that every so often you have to spat out a flick of the bark. (2.71-76)
Wow, this kid is poor. Seeing him get excited over a piece of homemade gum (with bits of bark in it!) really brings home just how few treats he's used to getting. You know who this reminds us of? Little Charlie Bucket from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
Watching our neighbor walk away, taking his cow and twin calves with him, I held Pinky close in my arms. She was the first thing I had ever really wanted, and owned. At least, the first thing of value. The only other thing I'd wanted was a bicycle, but I knew we couldn't afford it, so there was no sense in asking. Besides, both Mama and Papa would have looked at a bicycle as a work of the Devil. A frill. And in a Shaker household, there wasn't anything as evil as a frill. Seemed to me the world was full of them. But anything that Mama wanted and didn't have the money to buy (or the goods to trade for) was a frill to her. (3.59)
Poor Rob. A bicycle—something that a lot of kids take for granted—is so far out of the realm of possibility for him that he doesn't even bother asking his parents. It might seem sad to us, but is it sad for Rob? What emotions are going on in this passage?
"We are Plain People, your mother and aunt, and your sisters, you and me. We live the Book of Shaker. We are not worldly people, and we suffer the less for not paining with worldly wants and wishes. I am not heartsick, because I am rich and they are poor."
"We're not rich, Papa. We're…"
"Yes we are, boy. We have one another to fend to, and this land to tend. And one day we'll own it outright. We have Solomon here to wind up a capstan and help us haul our burdens. And look here, he's almost done pulling that cratch where we want it pulled to. We have Daisy's hot milk. We got rain to wash up with, to get the grime off us. We can look at sundown and see it all, so that it wets the eye and hastens the heart. We hear all the music that's in the wind, so much music that it itches my foot to start tapping. Just like a fiddle." (4.103-105)
Rob focuses on all the things the Pecks can't afford, but Papa looks at the important things they do have, most of which don't cost anything at all. Can't buy me love, that's for sure.