Chapter 15 Summary

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John, kneeling by the fallen Pigman, yelled at the zoo attendant to call an ambulance. He then said to Lorraine, “Get out of here,” because he was afraid of what her mother would do if she got into any more trouble. John checked Mr. Pignati’s wrist for a pulse, but there was none, and the old man was not breathing. John wanted to whisper to him, “Did you have to die?” but he knew the Pigman could no longer hear him.

As he waited for the ambulance with the Pigman, John reflected that, contrary to what Lorraine may have thought, he really did care about things. John was sickened by his awareness of the world as a place

where you can grow old and be alone and have to get down on your hands and knees and beg for friends.

He could not stand the thought that a person could end his life with only a baboon to talk to, and he wondered if they were all like baboons,

smiling away and not really caring what was going on as long as there were enough peanuts bouncing around to think about.

Maybe everyone, including his parents and Lorraine’s mother, were nothing more than “baffled baboons concentrating on all the wrong things.” It occurred to John to check Mr. Pignati’s wallet to see if he was carrying identification; then he could leave and not get further involved in yet another unpleasant situation. Even as he entertained this thought, he was ashamed and began to think of other things—“anything to get away from what was really happening.”

As he continued to wait for the authorities to come for Mr. Pignati’s body, John thought about the inevitability of his own death. Lorraine often chided him for drinking and smoking, telling him, “You must want to die.” In a way, Lorraine was right; John thought:

Maybe I would rather be dead than to turn into the kind of grown-up people I knew. What was so hot about living anyway if people think you’re a disturbing influence just because you still think about God and Death and the Universe and Love.

John felt sorry for his parents in that moment because they had ceased to care about what was important and were now living their lives by just going through the motions.

The ambulance arrived, and the doctor gestured that the Pigman was dead. As they took away the body, John quietly said, “Good-bye, Mr. Pignati,” and went outside, where he saw Lorraine sitting on a bench, crying. When he approached her, she struck out at him, screaming, “We murdered him.” John turned away, having been through “just about all that [he] could stand.” In silence, John sat down next to Lorraine. John noticed a fat, ridiculously costumed man walk by carrying a fistful of helium balloons. Lorraine began to cry again. John noticed a school of goldfish sticking their noses out of the water of a nearby pond, waiting for someone to feed them.

Finally, John stood up and gently took Lorraine’s hand, telling her it was time to go. They looked at each other, and no words were necessary; the feeling that passed between them was understood. They had trespassed, “been where [they] didn’t belong, and...were being punished for it.” The Pigman had trespassed, too, and paid with his life. Something in John and Lorraine had died with the old man—innocence and the illusion that life was something it was not. As they left their childhood behind with the Pigman, there was no one left to blame. Their lives “would be what [they] made of it—nothing more, nothing less.”

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Chapter 14 Summary