The protagonist of a story is the main character who traditionally undergoes some sort of change. He or she must usually overcome some opposing force. John and Lorraine are the protagonists. They write and speak through alternating chapters telling the story of their encounter with the Pigman and its resulting tragedy. Their greatest fears, anger, happiness, and the lessons they ultimately learn about life are vividly portrayed from each perspective. They are typical teens of the late 1960’s in America, but are also perhaps somewhat more troubled than what would be found in small town America.
The antagonist of a story is the force that provides an obstacle for the protagonist. The antagonist does not always have to be a single character or even a character at all. There seems to be no antagonist in this story but the inner demons John and Lorraine must face as they grow up and learn the truth about life. John presents the façade of someone who is supremely self-confident, but beneath his exterior is a young man who feels as if be belongs nowhere. Lorraine is clearly under-confident, constantly besieged by a mother who can only criticize and friends who are losers just like her. She and John both have great potential for the future, but first they must exorcize those demons and accept the individuals that they are.
The climax of a plot is the major turning point that allows the protagonist to resolve the conflict. The climax of this story occurs when Mr. Pignati arrives home to find that John and Lorraine have had a party in his house where he experiences not only personal damage, but also emotional betrayal by two young people he believed were his friends. Even though there is more tragedy that will occur, this is the moment of truth especially for Lorraine and John. This is the moment when they will learn the real truth about themselves and what matters to them in the long run.
Mr. Pignati dies of a broken heart even though the official cause of death will be a heart attack. He has been betrayed by John and Lorraine and even though at the time of his death, they are trying to seek his forgiveness, the death of the baboon, Bobo, who became his only friend after the death of his wife, proves to be more than he can bear and he dies. John and Lorraine learn from their own broken hearts that they made some seriously flawed decisions and now they will pay for that the rest of their lives.
This novel relates the story of two young New York City teenagers who feel unwanted and unloved at home and are on a path of self-destruction, when they meet by chance an old man named Angelo Pignati. They find his name in the phone book in a random game of telephone pranks and with all the wrong intentions, go to his house and become his friends. They meet there nearly everyday after school as well as taking trips to the zoo with Mr. Pignati to feed his friend, the baboon named Bobo.
In the process of this relationship, John and Lorraine learn some valuable truths about friendship and betrayal that can never be forgiven. They make the decision to have a destructive party in his house while he is in the hospital recovering from a heart attack. That coupled with the death of his wife and then the death of the baboon he had come to love at the zoo results in his death and Lorraine and John are forced to deal with their fault in this final outcome.