The Prologue consists of an Oath signed by Lorraine Jenson and John Conlan declaring that on the 15th day of April of their sophomore year at Franklin High School, they have decided to record the facts about Mr. Angelo Pignati. They insert a commentary about Miss Reillen, the school librarian who is watching them closely as they type this journal. Of course, she probably “thinks we’re using her typewriter to copy a book report for our retarded English teacher.” They finish by swearing to tell only the truth and invoke the name of God to make their declaration even stronger.
This prologue is integral to understanding the characters even before the reader is officially introduced to them. We begin to see glimmers of the seriousness of this story and how important they think it is to write it down. So Mr. Pignati must have made a distinctly serious impact on their lives. Also, we get a sense of their dissatisfaction with school and their teachers as they finish their sophomore year in high school. They must be about fifteen or sixteen years old - old enough to understand that something has happened in their lives to change them profoundly. It is important to note as well as we read this book in 2005 that it was published in 1968, a very different time than we’re used to, i.e., these two teens are using a typewriter instead of a computer.
The narrator of chapter 1 is John, who will alternate chapters with Lorraine. He declares immediately his dislike for school, but indicates that if not for this dislike, he and Lorraine would never have met Angelo Pignati, nicknamed the Pigman. John shows us his extreme dislike for school by detailing his behavior there. He had been dubbed the Bathroom Bomber because he set off bombs in the men’s room. The time between his lighting the fuse and the explosion was about eight minutes, so John could hear it anywhere he was in the building, which brought him great satisfaction. It also meant that any boy who had sneaked off to have a cigarette in the bathroom would be the one who was blamed by the “gestapo” (one of John’s colorful names for authority figures). He also was the organizer for the “super colossal fruit roll” every Wednesday in which the students would gather up apples from the lunchroom and roll them at the same time towards any teacher’s desk. He declares that now that he is a sophomore, he has given up all “that kid stuff” and only writes on desks as his criminal enterprise.
John’s final declaration until he actually begins the story involves his habit of cursing. He promises Lorraine that he won’t actually use curse words, but will instead type “@#$%” for mild curses and “3@#$%” for more serious ones. He ends his first narrative by explaining that Miss Reillen is called the Cricket, because she’s fat and wears skirts that are too tight. So when she walks, her nylon stockings make a scraaaaaatchy sound!
This is our first introduction to John and he is quite a character! He shows us his “James Dean rebel without a cause” attitude and reveals that he is close to being a real delinquent. He hasn’t yet taken the more serious steps of real crime, but he has no interest in school, doesn’t play sports, and generally hates everything, especially teachers and authority figures. We get a sense that he has the potential for choosing a life that wouldn’t make him exactly a model citizen. It is important to note, however, that he has voluntarily chosen to give up cursing, at Lorraine’s request, which shows he may have a side of his character that understands how to share and show respect.