This initial situation takes awhile to set up, five chapters, in fact. They think his smile, his pig collection, and his messy house are a little weird, but they immediately like him.
Even before John and Lorraine meet Mr. Pignati, John protects him by telling Dennis and Norton he and Lorraine are not going to collect the money because Mr. Pignati caught on that Lorraine was not really from a charity and hung up. As the novel progresses, Norton's threats become stronger.
Norton meets John at the cemetery and asks John if Mr. Pignati has anything worth stealing, specifically what kind of electronics he has. Angry that John is not forthcoming with information, he threatens to "pay a visit" to Mr. Pignati "real soon" (9).
Angry that he has not been invited, Norton shows up at the party. He steals electrical equipment and smashes the pigs, looking for money. Mr. Pignati comes home from the hospital unexpectedly and sees the ruin of his pigs and his wife's clothes.
We don't know what is going to happen. Will Mr. Pignati forgive John and Lorraine? Will he understand that they never intended the destruction that occurred? What will happen to John and Lorraine when they go home?
Lorraine tells her mother about her and John's friendship with Mr. Pignati and she and her mother become somewhat closer. John's parents tell him he will have to see a psychologist; they will forget all about this in a few days. John and Lorraine call Mr. Pignati to apologize and offer to help clean up. They suggest a trip to the zoo. When Mr. Pignati learns that Bobo has died, he has a second heart attack and dies.
On the floor of the monkey house with Mr. Pignati's body, John thinks how sad it is that people can be as lonely as Mr. Pignati was. The position of Mr. Pignati's head disturbingly reminds John of his father. He thinks how futile the lives of his parents' generation are. He and Lorraine sadly leave the zoo, hand in hand.