In Zindel's The Pigman, what conflict do John and Lorraine face in Chapter 4?

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jdslinky eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Chapter 4 is where the book really begins. The rest of the information is mostly exposition; however, when Lorraine prank-calls Mr. Pignati, the resulting conflict gets the plot moving, as all good conflicts should.

Lorraine and John were having a telephone-prank marathon with Norton and Dennis. When Lorraine's turn came up, she cheated a bit by peeking at the name her finger was pointing to in the phonebook: "When it was my turn, I made believe I had covered my eyes with my left hand, then thumbed through the pages, and as I moved my finger down a column I happened to spot the words 'Howard Avenue'," (22). Lorraine chose this entry based on its proximity to her house. However, Lorraine had no idea how close this phone call would bring her to the person who answered.

The difference between Mr. Pignati and other people they pranked during the game was that he seemed genuinely happy to speak to Lorraine. "Hello, this jolly voice said as I cleared my throat," (22). He asks questions and is interested in the fake charity Lorraine is pretending to represent; so interested, in fact, that he agrees to make a donation to "The L & J Fund," which is the crux of the conflict.

Lorraine thought of the marathon as a silly game; she never intended to use it as a way of getting involved in someone's personal life or to take actual money from someone. But John thought of it as a great opportunity! And, therein lies the rub: to take the money or not to take the money? That is the question.

As it's later clarified, Lorraine and John disagree on the proper way to proceed. Lorraine's final statement in that chapter serves to foreshadow later events in the novel, "You just have know how John does things, and you'll know one thing will always happen. He'll end up complicating everything," (28).