Lorraine now continues her discourse by emphasizing the disturbing characteristics of Norton and Dennis. John may have called them amoebas, but Lorraine is very concerned about them. Norton, she says, is a social outcast and even stoops so low as to cheat on the telephone pranks they play. According to John, Dennis speaks so slowly that he appears to be brain damaged. These characterizations will prepare the reader for their involvement with the Pigman later in the plot. Lorraine’s comment that Norton cheated in the game is pertinent, because she then cheats herself the day she chooses the Pigman’s name from the book.
When she sees Angelo Pignati lives on Howard Avenue, which is just a few blocks from her own home, she figures it will be easy to keep him talking and then, she can become the newest record holder. What she doesn’t plan on happening is his happy involvement in a conversation with a complete stranger. This is our first indication of his deep loneliness. He tells silly jokes that are not really funny and Lorraine feels very sorry for him. She also hadn’t planned on telling lies the way she does to this innocent old man and it bothers her that she has become a prevaricator like John. She observes to herself that this is why John’s parents don’t understand him: they don’t have the imagination that he does.
The end of the conversation ends on an unhappy note. Lorraine has lied and presented herself as the head of a charity, asking Mr. Pignati for a donation. He agrees to do so and before she can put an end to taking advantage of him in this way, John grabs the telephone out of her hand to speak to the old man himself. Lorraine agonizes over this, because as she has observed before, when John starts acting this way, things begin to become very complicated.
The reader sees the author draw a number of character sketches in this short chapter. Lorraine, who seems to be much more in control of herself than John, rounds out the characters of Norton and Dennis from their amoeba state: to her, they are truly disturbed. This is important foreshadowing. Lorraine and John’s characters are also further developed. He is someone who can act without thinking or who can insert himself into any situation in such a way that he just complicates it even more. Lorraine is not above cheating to help her beat Dennis’ record, which makes her seem very human, but the author emphasizes her humanity even more in the conversation with Mr. Pignati. She is sympathetic to his loneliness and feels guilty about taking advantage of him. However, she is also a weak character, because she cannot and, evidently has not in the past, stopped John from “complicating” situations they have faced together.
It would important at this point to emphasize the idea of fate. These two young people are about to become involved with a man who is going to have a profound effect on their lives and they find him by chance when playing telephone pranks. Were they destined to meet him? What will be the consequences of having known him? These are questions we must consider as we continue to read on.