Study Guide

A Day No Pigs Would Die Duty

By Robert Newton Peck

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In A Day No Pigs Would Die, doing your duty is a priority. (And yes, we chuckled a little when we wrote "doing your duty.") In the Shaker way, it seems, every individual has a "mission," something that they're meant to accomplish. And getting the mission done is a measure of how well they're fulfilling God's purpose for their life. Sacrifice, hard work, and facing up to your responsibilities are all marks of a duty fulfilled. Sounds a lot like Papa's principles, huh? Yep—duty is kind of like principles in action.

Questions About Duty

  1. What would you do if you were in Rob's place, having to kill your pet and knowing your family needed the meat to make it through the winter? Would you have tried to keep Papa from killing Pinky, or would you do what Rob did, and let Papa go through with it.
  2. What does Papa think are his main duties in life? Are they different from Rob's duties?
  3. Rob seems to believe he has a duty to take care of Pinky. After all, as Mama says, he feeds her better than he feeds himself. Clearly this conflicts with the duty he feels later to let her be killed. How does he decide which duty is more important? How would you decide?
  4. What would happen if Rob failed in his duty and didn't let Papa kill Pinky? What do you think the consequences would have been? How would the story have been different from that point?

Chew on This

Papa's sense of duty is so important to him because it's what keeps him going day after day. If it weren't for his sense of duty, he couldn't go on.

Rob's duty to be a good pet owner is stronger than his duty to follow a code of behavior imposed on him by Papa. He should have found a way to keep Pinky alive.

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