One of the themes in The Pigman is the power of love. How can this theme be seen through the life of Mr. Pignati?

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analiesev eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Love is demonstrated by Mr. Pignati multiple times as we learn about his past and present self through John and Lorraine's shared narration. Mr. Pignati from the very first moment is a man who receives others with warmth and generosity. When John and Lorraine initially pretend to be charity workers, he does not question the veracity of their lie, but accepts and engages them with his jokes and playful manner. John and Lorraine cannot help but respond with patience and kindness. They both regard Mr. Pignati as an ideal parent figure because of his complete acceptance of them and gratitude for their companionship. He shows more trust of them than either John's or Lorraine's parents ever do.

Mr. Pignati's loving nature is also shown in the way that he treats animals. We learn that he has a tradition of visiting the zoo daily to see Bobo the baboon, who Mr. Pignati refers to as his best friend. He brings Bobo peanuts and other snacks, and when Mr. Pignati is hospitalized after a heart attack, he even tries to arrange for John and Lorraine to carry out the visits he will be forced to miss while recovering. He is more concerned about Bobo missing him than he is about his own health.

It is clear that Mr. Pignati has always been a loving person as clues are slowly revealed about his wife Conchetta. He keeps a room full of pig knick-knacks as a sort of shrine to their relationship, explaining that one pig in particular was the first memento of himself that he gave to her when they first met one another. Every time Mr. Pignati mentions his wife he seems melancholy, and at last one night he breaks down crying and admits that she is dead rather than visiting his sister. John had already discovered the loss while snooping through Mr. Pignati's belongings, having come across a receipt for Conchetta Pignati's funeral, which was signed by Mr. Pignati. Mr. Pignati still keeps all of his wife's clothing and jewelry, and he speaks fondly of her when Lorraine asks about Conchetta's photograph.

Mr. Pignati's love and trust are repaid in the worst possible way. John and Lorraine get carried away by too much independence while occupying his house during the hospitalization, and their immature abuse of his generosity sets off a cluster of traumatic things that drive Mr. Pignati closer to his eventual destruction. First he arrives home from the hospital in a still-sickly state to find his house full of drunken teenagers. If this were not bad enough, some of them have destroyed the cherished relics of his marriage: the pig collection and one of Conchetta's lovely dresses. Mr. Pignati is deeply, devastedly affected by this trespass. Nonetheless, on the last day of Mr. Pignati's life John and Lorraine feel that he has forgiven them. After all, to love somebody requires forgiveness of faults, and he has always behaved lovingly to them.

When John and Lorraine invite him to the zoo to see Bobo, thinking this will bring Mr. Pignati some cheer, they inadvertently accompany him to death's door. He dies of some combination of grief, exhaustion, and shock when they learn that Bobo had died a week earlier, approximately at the same time when Mr. Pignati's heart attack had occurred. Having lost all tangible connections to his beloved wife, baboon friend, and former playful affection for John and Lorraine, Mr. Pignati simply ceases to exist. It is as if he had been made of love, and the gradual taking-advantage of his love basically has eroded his spirit until there is nothing left to do but die.