In Paul Zindel's novel The Pigman, both John and Lorraine lack attention and affection from their parents. John's father is a trader on the stock exchange, and his high-stress job has taken a severe toll on his health and left him little time for his son. Nonetheless, he wants John to follow in the same business and is not interested in John's ideas on the subject or his conflicting ambition to be an actor. He alternates between harshness and neglect, generally failing to notice John's attempts at rebellion.
John's father has not spent time with him or taught him anything about becoming a man. This void is filled by Mr. Pignati, who is also lonely and informally adopts John and Lorraine. He is generous, always giving them gifts, but most importantly, he gives them his time and attention. Although Mr. Pignati fulfills this need for both teenagers, and it was Lorraine who first made contact with him, he is particularly important to John, as he provides a male role model. John's father is traditionally masculine but also destructively so in his intolerance and his obsession with work. Mr. Pignati is a kinder and more thoughtful character who shows John an alternative way of growing to manhood and treating others.