As with many things in our society, wringing began with necessity and became a sport. The idea of wringing a pigeon’s neck is repulsive to many people. Having a celebration and contest to shoot them is likely not everyone’s favorite past-time either. Yet it is a way to control the pigeon population. Whoever got the idea of young boys breaking the necks of wounded pigeons might be a little disturbed, but it needed to be done.
Palmer describes not wanting to be a wringer this way:
It was simply, merely there, a whisper of feather-wings, reminding him of the moment he dreaded about all others, the moment when not wanting to be a wringer would turn into becoming one. (p. 2)
Palmer does not want to be a wringer despite the societal expectation that he become one. All boys do, so he should and will. He simply does not want to hurt a living thing.
When Palmer falls in love with a pigeon, naming it and keeping it in secret, this desire not to become a wringer becomes more important. He no longer sees pigeons just as dirty flying rats. He sees them as friends.
Here's a link where you can learn more:
Spinelli, Jerry. Wringer. New York: HarperCollins, 1997. Print.