by Paul Zindel
Tools of Characterization
This is probably the major way we learn about characters in The Pigman. John and Lorraine constantly make analytical statements about each other or other characters. For example, Lorraine tells us: "It is a fact that John has compassion deep inside of him, which is the real reason we got involved with the Pigman" (2). John says of Lorraine: "She's always reading about eyes exploding and nutty people and beehives and things" (3).
Our narrators are astute observers of physical appearance. One of the first things Lorraine tells us about John is that he's very good-looking:
And as you probably suspected, the reason he gets away with all these things is because he's extremely handsome. I hate to admit it, but he is. (2)
She then describes him more objectively: six feet tall, longish brown hair and blue eyes – "these gigantic eyes that look right through you, especially if he's in the middle of telling one of his fantastic everyday lies" (2). In the next chapter, John immodestly agrees with Lorraine: "Like Lorraine told you, I really am very handsome and I do have fabulous eyes" (3).
Lorraine's self-assessment is far more modest: "I may not be Miss America, but I am not the abominable snowwoman either" (2). John also shares his opinions on Lorraine's appearance:
The way her old lady talks you'd think Lorraine needed internal plastic surgery and seventeen body braces, but it you ask me, all she needs is a little confidence. She's got very interesting green eyes that scan like nervous radar—that is they used to until the Pigman died. Ever since then her eyes have been absolutely still, except when we work on this memorial epic. Her eyes come to life the second we talk about it. (3)
John gives the book's most detailed description of Mr. Pignati:
When Angelo Pignati came to the door, I wish you could have seen him. He was in his late fifties and was pretty big, and he had a bit of a beer stomach. But the part that slaughtered me was this great big smile on his face. He looked so glad to see us I thought his eyes were going to twinkle out of his head. (5)
Thoughts and Opinions
John, in particular, is characterized by his interesting, unusual, often funny thoughts and opinions, which allow the reader to know him better:
We have to stay around for an eighth-period class called Problems in American Democracy. And if you think having Problems in American Democracy is a fun way to end the day, you need a snug-fitting straitjacket. (1)
I think hospitals are exactly what graveyards are supposed to be like. They ought to bury people in hospitals and let sick people get well in the cemeteries. (11)