Chapter 15

This is John’s final part of the narrative. He screams at the zoo attendant to call an ambulance and forces Lorraine to leave so she won’t be in any deeper trouble with her mother. He falls to his knees, alone with Mr. Pignati, and just as suddenly as they began to scream, the monkeys fall silent. He feels for the old man’s pulse, but there is nothing and he holds Lorraine’s sunglasses up to the old man’s mouth, but no breath clouds the glass. Lorraine had meanly asked if he really cared about the Pigman and now, John tells us he did. He observes that Lorraine doesn’t know him as well as she thinks and that it just isn’t in him to run around telling the truth all the time. But, he says, it does matter to him that “he lives in a world where you can grow old and be alone and have to get down on your hands and knees and beg for friends.” He says he knows that if they hadn’t come along, the Pigman would have lived like a vegetable and died alone. Furthermore, it makes him sick to his stomach that it’s possible to end your life with only a baboon to talk to and that maybe we are all baboons, babbling and concentrating on all the wrong things.

Then, John notices that the way Mr. Pignati’s head is turned, he looks just like John’s father and he doesn’t like the feeling it gives him. He thinks about everything that has happened to them and he finally has one more horrifying thought: someday he is going to end up in a coffin himself. And yet he ponders whether he wouldn’t rather be dead than turn into the kind of grown-up people he knows. He feels sorry for his mother and father who have stopped wondering what they’re doing in the world, while he is going out of his mind trying to determine his own place in it.

John stays with Mr. Pignati until they take his body away, quietly whispering goodbye as the stretcher is borne to the ambulance. He finds Lorraine sitting on a bench in the center mall of the zoo. When he walks up to her, she strikes out him, screaming that they murdered the Pigman. John has just about had all he can stand and thinks for a minute that he hates Lorraine and he hates the Pigman for trying to go backward and trespass into his world. He should have remained a grown-up. They watch a fat man carrying strings of balloons with a sign that reads: Buy your funny-face balloons here! It makes Lorraine begin to cry softly, so John takes her by the hand and tells her it’s time to go. As they look at each other, the ambulance lights flashing behind them, they both know the real truth: they have trespassed, too, have gone where they don’t belong and now they are being punished for it. Mr. Pignati has paid for this trespassing with his life, but something in them has died as well. They can’t blame anyone anymore for their problems or unhappiness. Their lives will be what they make of them and nothing more. The Pigman had told them that baboons build their own cages and now John knows he was right. People are baboons, too, and they build cages behind which they imprison themselves or curl up to hide from reality.

The scene where John stays with the Pigman is very poignant. The monkeys’ screams were almost like the proverbial death knell, tolling out the life of a man for whom they cared. And when John kneels to his side, they become quiet, perhaps in Mr. Pignati’s honor. Everything about the mystery of life and death overwhelms John at this point. He is confused by grown-ups who seem to have given up and try not to wonder about their miniscule part in the world. He doesn’t want to be like them, but he is frustrated that he is also rudderless in this great sea where we all live. The only thing he knows to do is reach out to the one person who will understand his confusion, his fear, and his anger – Lorraine. They both know they have lost something very wonderful with Mr. Pignati’s death. They have lost his presence and his friendship and all he might have taught them about the world and their place in it. They now must make their own way and they can blame no one or nothing for their mistakes. Both generations trespassed, as John says, where they didn’t belong and in spite of the fact that they gained much from each other, they must now pay for that trespass. They are baboons and they have built their own cages.

Cite this page:

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