The novel, The Pigman, is set in New York City in the specific neighborhood and school, specifically Franklin High School, of John Conlan and Lorraine Jensen circa 1968.
John Conlan - He is a sophomore in a New York City high school. He is terribly dissatisfied with his life and misbehaves in interesting ways to try to give meaning to his own existence. He appears to have great potential and wants to be an actor. Like most teens, he will eventually discover that he, and he alone, makes his life whatever it will become.
Lorraine Jensen - Extremely under-confident, she is John’s alter-ego. She lives with a mother who only knows how to criticize, so her relationship with John and Mr. Pignati becomes very important to her self-esteem. her greatest desire is to become a writer and like John, she will discover that no one can be blamed for her inability to succeed, but her.
Angelo Pignati - The old man who comes to be affectionately referred to as the Pigman, he is living alone and unloved when John and Lorraine make his acquaintance through a silly telephone prank. Just as he offers his friendship without judgment, so they offer him the same. His tragic death will be a tremendous learning experience for John and Lorraine.
Lorraine’s mother - Completely angry with what life has dealt her, Lorraine’s mother finds no comfort in her daughter and builds up a complete hatred for men. She contributes to Lorraine’s low self-esteem with her constant criticism. She is a pathetic and yet sympathetic figure whose life seems doomed to the existence she has already created with her bitterness.
John’s parents - His mother becomes obsessed with her house, its furnishings, its cleanliness as a defense mechanism against the disappointments of her life while his father uses his job on the Stock Exchange in the same manner. They don’t understand John, because he’s not willing to shape his life into the mold as they have shaped theirs.
Norton Kelly - Dubbed a real “berserker” by John, Norton has truly bad traits. He’s willing to hurt anyone or anything to get what he wants. He helps contribute to Mr. Pignati’s final illness, because he breaks many of the pig figurines looking for money and steals from him.
Dennis Kobin - The boy who hangs out with Norton, Dennis is perhaps mildly retarded or at least slow, and therefore, a follower rather than a leader. Along with Norton, he is a danger to the relationship John and Lorraine have with Mr. Pignati.
John and Lorraine’s Friends - All of the people whom John and Lorraine know in their high school and with whom they party. John judges them as all having some problem or another which makes them have difficulties adjusting to society.