Growing Up
The theme of growing up is the most prevalent theme. Both John and Lorraine are products of dysfunctional families and, like all of us, find it easy to point to their parents as the source of their problems. However, as they create this relationship with Mr. Pignati, they begin to mature and recognize that, in spite of the temptation to blames others, in the end, life is what each of us makes of it and we are the only ones we can blame when it goes wrong.

Fate or Destiny

The theme of fate or destiny is a relatively dominant idea in this novel. The question the author, Paul Zindel, seems to be posing is: How much of life is coincidental, forcing each of us to deal with it as it unfolds and how much of our lives can be blamed upon our active or passive involvement in what goes on around us? Lorraine’s character, for example, is obsessed with all the omens foretelling unhappiness, coming problems, or even death that she missed. She believes that if she had only recognized them as they occurred much of the tragedy she and John experienced would have been avoided. John, on the other hand, is the first to accept the reality that they have created their own heartbreak and now they must deal with the consequences the best they know how. Lorraine eventually understands the truth about destiny as well: we are our own destinies.

The Generation Gap

The theme of the generation gap is a more subtle undercurrent as the story unfolds and then is boldly declared in the end. John and Lorraine enter the world of the elderly and Mr. Pignati enters a world he already lived in his youth when they befriend each other. John is angry in the end, because he feels Mr. Pignati trespassed into their world where he really couldn’t go and didn’t belong. Then, it occurs to him that he and Lorraine trespassed, too, and now must accept the consequences of trying to befriend a man who was desperate for anyone to ease his loneliness. Also, the vast gap between these two and their parents is part of the theme, because in a bid for acceptance and recognition, John and Lorraine see that their parents will never understand how they feel. In turn, they will never truly understand how their parents feel either until they grow up and become parents themselves.


This story is filled with mood swings just like adolescents whose bodies and minds are constantly changing. We very much like John and Lorraine at times and then, when they make stupid mistakes or are less than considerate of others, we dislike them. They, in turn, dislike the world around them one minute and are in love with life the next. However, by the end of the novel, the mood has shifted and remains constant: there is a sense of deep regret and sadness because of the Pigman’s death and the sad consequences that John and Lorraine must live with the rest of their lives.

Paul Zindel - Biography

Paul Zindel was born on Staten Island, New York, on May 15, 1936. He spent his high school years moving around the city and enrolling in four different schools, so he had a great background upon which he could base this novel. He graduated from Wagner College, also on Staten Island and earned a master’s degree in science. He was a high school chemistry teacher for ten years before his writing career took off. A class in playwriting eventually led to a television presentation of one of his plays, The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds and then, that led to a contract to write books for teenagers. The Pigman was published in 1968 and went on to receive great acclaim along with The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds. The play won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Mr. Zindel also won the Margaret A. Edwards Award for his lifetime contribution in writing for young adults from the Young Adult Library Services Association. He had written in his career more than fifty book, plays, and screenplays before he died of cancer on March 27, 2003.

Awards for The Pigman include:
Children’s Book of the Year, Child Study Association of America, 1968
New York Times Outstanding Book of the Year, 1968
Boston Globe - Horn Book Award Honor Book, 1969
Maxi Award, Media and Methods, 1973
ALA Notable Children’s Book, 1940-1970
ALA Best Book for Young Adults, 1966-1988


The Pigman. 1968
My Darling, My Hamburger. 1969
I Never Loved Your Mind. 1970
I Love My Mother. 1975
Pardon Me, You're Stepping on My Eyeball! 1976
Confessions of a Teenage Baboon. 1977
The Undertaker's Gone Bananas. 1978
A Star for the Latecomer. 1980
The Pigman's Legacy. 1980
The Girl Who Wanted a Boy. 1981
To Take a Dare. 1982
Harry and Hortense at Hormone High. 1985
The Amazing and Death-Defying Diary of Eugene Dingman. 1987
A Begonia for Miss Applebaum. 1989
The Pigman and Me. 1992
Attack of the Killer Fishsticks. 1993
Fifth Grade Safari. 1993
Fright Party. 1993
David & Della. 1993
One Hundred Percent Laugh Riot. 1994
Loch. 1994
The Doom Stone. 1995
Raptor. 1998
Reef of Death. 1998
Rats. 1999
The Gadget. 2001
Night of the Bat. 2001
The Scream Museum. 2001
The Surfing Corpse. 2001
The E-Mail Murders. 2001
The Lethal Gorilla. 2001
The Square Root of Murder. 2002
Death on the Amazon. 2002
The Gourmet Zombie. 2002
The Phantom of 86th Street. 2002
The Houdini Whodunit. 2002
Death by CD. 2003
The Petrified Parrot. 2003
Camp Megadeath. 2003


The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds. 1965
And Miss Reardon Drinks a Little. 1967
The Secret Affairs of Mildred Wild. 1972
Every 17 Minutes the Crowd Goes Crazy
Ladies At The Alamo, 1977
Amulets Against the Dragon Forces. 1998

Cite this page:

Clapsaddle, Diane. "TheBestNotes on The Pigman". . 09 May 2017