The Pigman Questions and Answers
by Paul Zindel

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How does Lorraine’s description of the librarian, Miss Reillen, illustrate Lorraine’s compassion in "Pigman"? 

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dymatsuoka eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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John bluntly introduces Miss Reillen, the librarian, by explaining that the kids call her "the Cricket" because she "is a little on the fat side, but that doesn't stop her from wearing these tight skirts which make her nylon stockings rub together when she walks so she makes this scraaaaaaatchy sound" (Chapter 1).  When Lorraine takes over the narration, she qualifies John's description, pointing out that Miss Reillen is "really a very nice woman, though it's true her clothes are too tight, and her nylons do make this scraaaaaaatchy sound when she walks".  In a sort of backhanded attempt to be positive, she emphasizes that Miss Reillen

"isn't trying to be sexy or anything.  If you could see her, you'd know that.  She just outgrew her clothes.  Maybe she doesn't have any money to buy new ones or get the old ones let out.  Who knows what kind of problems she has?  Maybe she's got a sick mother at home".

Lorraine, who prides herself for being able to look at people and the world with compassion, acknowledges that Miss Reillen may appear ludicrous, but, with awkward sincerity, tries to see the good side in her as well.  She makes it clear that the librarian is "nice", and tries to find reasons to excuse her for the way she dresses (Chapter 2).

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tpisano eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Lorraine is very observant and very compassionate.  One reason that she may watch others so closely is because she has always been closely watched by her mother.  Her mother is very critical of her.

Her descriptions of the librarian, Miss Reillen,  prove this point.  Although she seems to "pick on" her for her clothing and looks, she is quick to point out that she probably can not afford new clothes on her salary.  She also feels sympathy for her and thinks deeply about problems that she may have.  She wonders if she may be similar to a teacher she had whose mother was sick and had to stay on her couch.

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