Study Guide

The Pigman Old Age

By Paul Zindel

Old Age

Poor Mr. Pignati. He loves to enjoy life, drink wine, tell jokes, and eat gourmet food. And yet he is very lonely. How can this happen? John reflects on how wrong it is that older people (Mr. Pignati is in his fifties) can be so isolated, especially if they're a little eccentric. Ironically, John and Lorraine form a friendship with the oldest character in the novel and are profoundly alienated from adults younger than Mr. Pignati, such as their parents and teachers. Mr. Pignati has an infectious love of life, which he shares with and teaches to John and Lorraine. Ironically, they learn to appreciate life from someone who is about to die.

Questions About Old Age

  1. At least one critic of the novel writes that John and Lorraine take advantage of an old man. Is there any truth to this?
  2. John wonders, rhetorically, if Lorraine thinks "that I didn't know if we hadn't come along the Pigman would've just lived like a vegetable until he died alone in that dump of a house?" (15). Is John's statement that Mr. Pignati would have died anyway true? Or a rationalization?
  3. How do you think aging will change John and Lorraine?

Chew on This

Although they try to convince themselves otherwise, in many ways John and Lorraine are, in fact, taking advantage of a lonely old man.

John and Lorraine brought joy into Mr. Pignati's life, joy that he would not have had without them.