Chapter 8

When John comes back, he whispers to Lorraine that Mrs. Pignati is dead. Since this chapter is her part of the narrative they are writing, her reaction to this news is even more pronounced than if John had related it. She feels a terrible chill run though her, because she had had a suspicion that the Pigman’s wife was dead. She didn’t exactly believe he had murdered her and sealed her body up somewhere, but she had noticed a strange glaze in his eyes when he would laugh, as if he didn’t really believe his own laughter. She thinks it is very sad that the girl in her confirmation dress had already grown up, gotten married and had died and her husband cannot admit it.

John also finds something else upstairs – a credit card that Mr. Pignati only used for the fancy food delicatessen at Beekman’s Department Store. John and Lorraine have never seen one before and are fascinated by what it can do for the one who possesses it (this story takes place around 1968, so credit cards were not yet a normal part of the American economy).

When Lorraine gets home that night, a significant thought strikes her: Mr. and Mrs. Pignati must have shared many things, including preparing food together. She and her mother never do things together like that and it makes her sad. Her mother tells her after she gets home that the man she’s caring for now has only a few months to live and “he’s still got itchy fingers.” He tries to touch her intimately every time she goes near him. When her mother leaves for work, she emphasizes continuously as she goes out the door about Lorraine not letting anyone in and securely locking the door. It makes Lorraine realize how awful her mother’s life is and why she picks on Lorraine so. However, now when her mother picks at her, she finds herself thinking of the Pigman, because he knows how to have a little fun. That makes her feel better.

John and Lorraine meet the Pigman at the Staten Island Ferryhouse at 11:30 the next morning where John loves to harass the bums and the drunks. They are going together to Beekman’s Department Store. Lorraine goes along with the idea, even though she knows it is wrong to use Mr. Pignati’s credit card, because she wants to control John. When they get off the ferry, they take the subway where Lorraine hears one woman telling another, “Death is coming. God told me death is coming. . .” It is yet another omen for Lorraine. Mr. Pignati, however, is very excited, because he gets to take his two new friends into a store he visits every week. They buy frogs legs and John picks out tiger’s milk and Lorraine chooses chocolate-covered ants. Lorraine also chooses a can of Love’n Nuts and she feels so good, like John, that someone has actually bought her something that she didn’t need and she didn’t ask for. In the lingerie department, a saleslady asks Mr. Pignati if he wants anything for his daughter. Lorraine quickly blurts out that she’s not his daughter, until she sees the sad look on the Pigman’s face. Then, she declares that she’s his niece and he buys her some nylon stockings. She insists on buying size 11, even though she’s only a 7 and a half, so she can have an excuse that they belong to some other girl, if her mother finds them. Meanwhile, John is slipping a cigarette into the hand of a dummy wearing only a girdle and a brassiere.

Next, they visit the toy department and the gun department and end up in the pet store. Lorraine is moved by a cage with three little monkeys holding onto each other, scared to death. They look out at her with their tiny wet eyes as though pleading for love. To her, they look lonely and sweet. When the store’s clerk warns them not to feed the monkeys just “because I said so,” John gets mad and every time the man turns his back, he gives the monkeys some of the Love’n Nuts, just to be obstinate. Lorraine goes to the restroom and when she comes back, John announces that Mr. Pignati is going to buy them roller skates. Lorraine protests to the Pigman that he’s already spent enough money on them, but he is bending down, putting on the roller skates, too. Lorraine notes that her mind had been telling her to stop taking advantage of this nice old man while a part of her thought it would be something absolutely absurd and silly, something she could never do with her mother. She and John wear their skates home, absurdly roller skating through Beekman’s. As she watches John roll away ahead of her, it occurs to her that he was telling the world how glad he was to be alive! To her, the three of them looked just like the three funny little monkeys.

Lorraine is a very astute observer of people. She truly understands and even sympathizes with her mother’s life, even though her mother is mean to her. She also understands how sad the Pigman is when he won’t even admit that Conchetta is dead. Furthermore, she understands John’s need to find happiness anyway he can, even if it’s doing silly things like placing a cigarette in the hands of a mannequin or roller skating through Beekman’s. He needs to deny a life over which he’s becoming more and more frustrated. For Lorraine, being with the Pigman is becoming more and more wonderful. His happiness and his willingness to be a child and act silly help Lorraine feel better when she’s the saddest. Also, he is generous to a fault and because she is not used to people treating her so well, she allows him to spread his generosity over her. She is also quick to make him feel better, because she recognizes his need to love and be loved, so she allows the saleslady to think she is his niece. She doesn’t want to hurt his feelings or disappoint him.

Lorraine’s observation that the monkeys remind her of the three of them is significant, because the monkeys tremble with fear and hold on to each for comfort. She seems to be indicating that Mr. Pignati, John, and she try to deny the fear they all feel for whatever reasons and that they are all turning to each other to calm their fears and seek comfort.

The buying of the ice skates, even for himself, shows how Mr. Pignati wants and needs their company. Perhaps he is buying their acceptance, but his technique is working, because both of them now want to be around him for more than just the gifts he gives them.

Cite this page:

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