Chapter 1 Summary

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John Conlan and Lorraine Jensen are sophomores at Franklin High School. They have decided to record “the facts” of their recent experiences with Mr. Angelo Pignati; they swear to tell “the truth and nothing but the truth.”

John opens the narration by introducing himself, admitting that he pretty much “hate[s] everything” but that he hates school in particular. During his freshman year at Franklin, he was called the “Bathroom Bomber” because of his propensity for setting off small, homemade firecracker bombs in the boys’ bathroom on the first floor of the school. John had become so adept that he could rig his explosives to go off up to eight minutes after he had set them up, allowing him to make a clean getaway. Sometimes John would even forget that he had set the bomb, and he would be as surprised as everyone else when he heard the sound of the blast. Blame for the prank would often fall upon hapless students who happened to be in the bathroom at the time, “sneaking a cigarette.” John had never been caught.

After he tired of his “bomb avocation,” John masterminded the “supercolossal fruit roll” stunt. John would pass the word at lunch on the days that a substitute teacher was scheduled for the afternoon, and students would show up at the designated class with “scrawny apples” purchased from the cafeteria, waiting for a series of signals from John. At an opportune moment, John would loudly clear his throat, give a “phony sneeze,” and whistle, and everyone would simultaneously roll the apples toward the front of the room. The sound of the fruit rumbling down the aisles made a noise “just like a herd of buffalo stampeding” and, naturally, created quite a disturbance. John boasts that this diversion was effective every time except for once, when the substitute was a retired postman who spent the period earnestly talking about commemorative stamps. The postman had been so enthusiastic about his topic that John had not had the heart to go through with the stunt and had called it off.

According to John, his days as a prankster are over now that he is a sophomore. The only thing he continues to do that is even “faintly criminal” is to write on desks, which he is about to do now. John scrawls a humorous note about being changed into a bug by “a rotten science teacher” on the pristine surface before him. Then he gets to the subject at hand, the account he and Lorraine have agreed to create to chronicle the events that resulted in the Pigman’s death. John suggested writing this record because he thinks it will make Lorraine feel better about what happened. Before getting to the specifics, he digresses, talking about how Lorraine has forbidden him to curse in their proposed “epic” and explaining that Miss Reillen, the librarian, is called “the Cricket” by the students because of the “scraaaaaaatchy sound” her nylon stockings make when she walks. He then turns the narrative, which he is executing on a typewriter, over to Lorraine.

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Chapter 2 Summary