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

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After finishing his evening chores, Robert walks with Pinky up in the open field on the ridge north of his house. They find a soft spot amongst the purple clover and kickweed and lay down. Pinky rolls in the clover, and Robert squeezes some of the sugary clover nectar into his mouth, while he watches a redtail hawk circling overhead. He sees the hawk suddenly dive, falling fast as a stone. It lands on a small animal that is hiding not far away from Robert and quickly buries its talons into the fur. The rabbit’s death cry sounds painful, and Robert remembers that it is the only real sound that a rabbit makes during its entire life. When Robert tries to draw closer to the hawk, which is resting after the kill, it grabs the dead rabbit and lifts off. Robert watches the ascending hawk, trying to see where its nest is located, but he loses sight of it in the evening sun.

Robert grows hungry, thinking about a freshly cooked rabbit, which he prefers to goose. He knows that Pinky would like rabbit as well, since pigs are meat-eaters. In fact, if not well fed, a sow will eat her own brood, according to Mr. Peck. Pinky, however, does not have to worry. Robert makes sure that she eats well, feeding her as much corn, wheat, barley, soybean meal, alfalfa, or oats as he can get from his father or Mr. Tanner; he also sometimes gives her some of Daisy’s warm milk or feeds her some of the fish he catches. Mrs. Peck once told Robert that he feeds the pigs better than he feeds himself. Her statement is really true. Robert even keeps a record of how much Pinky is fed. For every three hundred and fifty pounds of food she eats, Pinky should gain one hundred pounds.

Talking to the pig, Robert tells Pinky that she is lucky to have shelter, shade, and a well-drained crib with lots of straw. When the pig snorts at him, Robert thinks she is trying to say thank you. He then tells Pinky that he plans for her to be a brood sow, bred with Mr. Tanners boar named Samson. He envisions her giving birth to lots of piglets that can be sold or grown for food. It is an image that will never come to fruition in the book.

As the sky begins to darken, Robert and Pinky walk towards home. Robert puts the pig in her pen for the night, after giving her a big hug. Seeing Mr. Peck, Robert watches him as he puts away his tools. Once everything is in its proper place, father and son leave the barn and sit on a bench outside, watching the sun totally disappear. Robert turns to his father and says that “of all the things in the world to see, I reckon the heavens at sundown has got to be my favorite sight.” His father agrees that heaven is a good place to look and adds that it is also “a good place to go.”


In Chapter 7, there is once again little action. Instead, the character of Robert and his relationship to Pinky are further developed. After evening chores, Robert is seen taking a walk with his pet pig up in the open field behind his house. It is obvious that Robert is in tune with nature as he observes the beauty of the purple clover, “more purple than I’d ever see it” and spies a hawk with a redtail, “like a torch against the softer colors of his underbody.” He watches with amazement as the hawk dives towards the earth, having spied a small animal. He listens in pain as the rabbit utters its death cry. He tries to follow the hawk with eyes as it returns to the nest, but he loses sight of it amongst the golden clouds, now orange with the setting sun. The colors remind Robert of when his mother pours “peach juice on the large curds of white potcheese.” Once at home, Robert tells his father that the heavens at sundown are his favorite sight on earth.

Robert also reveals in this chapter how carefully he cares for and loves Pinky, even hugging her goodnight. When he sees the hawk kill the rabbit, he wishes that he had some of the meat to give to his pig. In fact, Robert is always trying to find things to feed her, begging oats, barley, corn, alfalfa, and other feed from his father and Mr. Tanner. He keeps a careful record of what Pinky is fed, knowing that for every three hundred and fifty pounds she eats, Pinky will gain one hundred pounds. His mother correctly claims that the boy is more concerned with Pinky’s food than his own. It is true, for Robert wants to make certain that she becomes a strong and healthy brood sow. His plans, as he explains them to Pinky, are to breed her with Samson, Mr. Tanner’s prize boar, and raise her piglets to sell or to provide food. In the meantime, Robert makes sure that Pinky has plenty to eat, plenty to drink, and plenty of soft straw in her pen.

The author carefully develops Robert’s sensitive nature in order to make the reader realize how painful it is when he must give Pinky up. He shows how much love and concern Robert has for the pet pig to intensify the hurt the boy will feel when he must help his father kill her. With careful planning, Robert Newton Peck is already building towards the climax of the plot.


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