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Free Study Guide/Summary for A Day No Pigs Would Die

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A DAY NO PIGS WOULD DIE BY ROBERT NEWTON PECK

 

LITERARY ELEMENTS

 

SETTING

Almost the entire book is set in Learning, a small rural village in Vermont. Almost all of the action takes place on the Shaker farm that belongs to Haven Peck and his family. The protagonist, Robert Peck, leaves Learning one time during the novel to attend the Rutland Fair, where he shows his pig Pinky.

 

CHARACTER LIST

 

Major Characters

Robert Peck
A twelve-year-old Shaker boy, who lives with his mother, father, and Aunt Carrie. He is a hard-working, kind, and respectful son who minds his parents and accepts that he can have no frills in life. During the course of the novel, he turns 13 and accepts his role as head of the farm after his father passes away.

Haven Peck
Robert’s father, who is a Shaker farmer. He is a hard-working farmer who lives a simple Shaker existence. To support the family, he works as a hog butcher. He passes away at the end of the novel.

Lucy Peck
Robert’s mother who is kind and gentle in contrast to her stern, practical husband.


Minor Characters

Edward Thatcher
A classmate of Robert who teases him about his Shaker clothing and manners.

Aunt Carrie
Robert’s Aunt who is very prim and proper and lives with the Peck family on the farm. She secretly gives Robert a dime to spend at the Rutland Fair.

Mr. Ben Tanner
A good neighbor to the Pecks and a successful farmer. He is the owner of Apron, the cow that Robert saves. In return, he gives Robert a pig of his very own. He also takes Robert to the Rutland Fair, which is the boy’s first trip out of Learning.

Mrs. Bess Tanner
The wife of Mr. Tanner. She goes with Mr. Tanner and Robert to the Rutland Fair. Like her husband, she is a Godfearing Baptist.

Jacob Henry
A friend of Robert. The two boys often get in to mischief, like the time they run through the Widow Bascom’s strawberry patch, only to be whacked by her with a broom.

Martha Plover
A friend of Mrs. Peck and former English teacher who decides to tutor Robert. She lives in town in Learning and frequently comes to the Peck farm for a visit, often bringing gossip. Robert calls her Aunt Matty and finds her appearance and behavior to be strange; he is frightened of her because she is a staunch Baptist.

Hume Plover
The husband of Martha. He is a decent, but dull, man who never smiles. He is supposedly indignant that the Widow Bascom seems to be having an affair with her hired help.

May Hillman
The wife of Sebring and a neighbor to the Pecks from up the road. She calls on the Pecks in the middle of a stormy night to seek their help and comfort. Her husband has gone out in the storm and she suspects he is digging up the grave of one of Mr. Peck’s relatives.

Sebring Hillman
May’s husband and the Peck’s neighbor. He has fathered Letty Phelps’ illegitimate daughter and never admitted it to anyone. Letty has drowned her daughter and killed herself. Sebring is haunted by the deaths and his sin. He goes to Letty’s grave in the middle of a stormy night to dig up his daughter’s coffin and take it home to bury on Hillman land. It is his way of owning up to his sin and guilt.

Widow Iris Bascom
A neighbor of the Pecks. She is supposedly having an affair with her hired hand, Ira Young. She also whacks Robert and his friend for running through her strawberry patch and tells Mrs. Tanner how badly Robert wants to go to the Rutland Fair.

Ira Young
The hired hand of Widow Bascom. He is a large, strong man, who works hard.


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