Last Updated on October 26, 2018, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 636
Ignoring Lorraine’s protests, John cashed the Pigman’s check and bought a six-pack of beer and some cigarettes. He then tried to convince her that they should go to the zoo with Mr. Pignati.
Lorraine did not get home until after six-thirty that evening. Her mother, who is very controlling of her daughter’s behavior, demanded to know where she had been. Lorraine’s mother is a single parent, having been left by her husband fifteen years previous. Possibly because of her own negative experiences with men, she is paranoid about the boys with whom Lorraine might come in contact; she monitors her whereabouts closely.
Lorraine’s mother works as a private nurse. Her latest client, an old man with terminal cancer, had just died that day. She talks about her patients in a callous manner. She proudly showed Lorraine some canned goods she had stolen from the old man’s house, rationalizing that they would never be missed. Lorraine’s mother talked about the under-the-table commission she would get for referring the deceased to a particular undertaker, and she lamented that her next assignment, “another terminal cancer,” would not start until the day after tomorrow. Complaining that she could not both “go out and earn a living and keep [the] house decent,” she asked Lorraine to stay at home from school the next day to help her clean.
Lorraine told her mother that she could not miss school because there was going to be an important test in Latin. As her mother groused that she could “take a year off from that school and not miss anything,” Lorraine pretended she was consulting a girlfriend about homework and called John. She heard a lot of yelling in the background; John’s father was livid at his son’s recalcitrant behavior. Talking quietly and quickly so as not to be overheard, John and Lorraine decided to ditch school the next day and go to the zoo with Mr. Pignati.
John and Lorraine arranged to meet the Pigman at the front of the zoo at ten o’clock in the morning. At precisely the correct time, Mr. Pignati arrived, with a smile that “stretched clear across his face.” Despite the Pigman’s merry mood, Lorraine was filled with a feeling of foreboding. A series of “bad omens” occurred within the next few minutes. First, the lady who sold popcorn at the zoo was antagonistic to her, and then Lorraine was “attacked” by a peacock. Finally, in the nocturnal room of the Mammal Building, a sinister-looking little kid was sitting on the railing with his back to the glass, observing the visitors, which made Lorraine feel as if it was she was the one in a cage instead of the animals behind him.
Mr. Pignati, however, loved the nocturnal room, and when they had finished there, he insisted on taking John and Lorraine to the Primate Building to see Bobo, his “best friend.” Bobo was “the ugliest, most vicious-looking baboon” Lorraine had ever seen, but the Pigman clearly loved him and spent a very long time visiting with him and throwing him peanuts. After a while, John and Lorraine got tired of watching the Pigman and Bobo, and they took a ride around the park in a touring car. When they returned, Mr. Pignati was still throwing peanuts to the baboon, so John decided to start a conversation with a gorilla in an adjoining cage. The gorilla responded enthusiastically, and before long, he and John were creating quite a ruckus, screaming at each other. Lorraine quickly “got this pair of chimpanzees going,” and soon Mr. Pignati and Bobo contributed to the bedlam by joining in. All too soon, it was time to go; as he turned to leave, Mr. Pignati called back sadly, “I’ll miss you, Bobo.”