Chapter 5 Summary

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Mr. Pignati invited Lorraine and John to come to his house the next day to pick up his donation, but Lorraine was not enthusiastic about going because it was “wrong to take money from an old man.” John, who was in need of funds to buy a six-pack, tried to convince her, but decided to see if he could get a dollar twenty-five from his parents instead. When he asked his mother for the cash, she nervously informed him that his father had instructed her not to give him anything until he had a chance to talk to him about his latest act of rebellion, putting airplane glue in the telephone lock. Not wanting to be around when his father came home, John picked up the phone and tapped the connection button ten times, which summoned the operator, who dialed Lorraine’s number for him. As soon as John heard Lorraine’s phone ring once, he hung up, which was their signal for her to meet him at the corner of Eddy and Victory Boulevard if she could get away.

John and Lorraine argued about whether they should go over to the Pigman’s house to collect the ten dollars, and John finally convinced Lorraine that they should because the old man sounded lonely and would probably appreciate their company. The house on Howard Avenue was “a phenomenal dump,” and Lorraine wondered if the Pigman was poor. Angelo Pignati, a large man in his late fifties, answered the door with a “great big smile on his face.” He invited John and Lorraine to come in and sit down in the living room, then he went into the kitchen to get them some wine. When he returned, he informed them that he had just gotten back from the zoo and that his wife, who had been gone for about a month, was visiting his sister in California. He suddenly looked as though he was going to cry, then he abruptly changed the subject.

The Pigman told John and Lorraine that while he was waiting for them to arrive, he had been practicing “how to memorize ten items.” Looking like “a great big kid,” he urged them to name ten objects for him and gave them a piece of paper and a pencil so they could write them down. Mr. Pignati, who had been careful not to look at the written list, then happily recited the objects back to them, after which he showed them the secret of this “breathtaking feat” by drawing a diagram representing the mental picture he had made to connect the items in his mind. Mr. Pignati insisted that both John and Lorraine try the game next, and when they had each had a turn, he suggested “out of nowhere” that they go to the zoo together tomorrow.

When Lorraine said that it was time for them to go, Mr. Pignati looked so depressed that John thought he really was going to cry. He wrote a check for their phony charity out to “cash.” As the two young people got up to leave, he asked again if they might one day consider going to the zoo with him. He then remembered that he had forgotten to show them his pigs. He took them into a room with black curtains in which there were “pigs all over the pigs and clay pigs and marble pigs.” The Pigman told John and Lorraine that his wife had collected pigs, and he showed them the very first one he had bought for her, a “large white pig with an ugly smile on its face” to help her remember his name, Pignati.

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