Chapter 8 Summary

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Lorraine was horrified but not surprised when John whispered to her that the Pigman’s wife was dead. She had suspected as much, and she remembered cases in which a man and wife died within a short time of each other. She thought “the love between a man and a woman must be the strongest thing in the world.” Recalling her own parents, Lorraine then wondered why their relationship had not been like that.

John, who was exploring upstairs again, came down with a small plastic card and asked the Pigman what it was. Mr. Pignati explained about charge cards, and John was amazed that a store would essentially allow people to take whatever they wanted and not require them to pay until later. Mr. Pignati said that he got the card so that his wife could go shopping at Beekman’s delicatessen.

At home that evening, Lorraine had another typically unpleasant interaction with her mother, who was starting a new assignment caring for a terminal cancer victim whom she said had “sex on the brain.” She gloated about how she was being treated with kid gloves by the patient’s family because of the difficulty in dealing with this patient; she planned to take full advantage of the situation. As she left, she gave Lorraine a list of chores to do in the house, along with her usual warnings about not letting anyone in under any circumstances. Lorraine tried to remember how awful her mother’s life was and to understand why she picked on her so much. She wished that her mother knew how to have fun like the Pigman.

Lorraine managed to finish her chores and get out of the house by about eleven. She and John met the Pigman at the ferry, and the three of them traveled to Beekman’s Department Store in Manhattan. The Pigman took them to the delicatessen first, where he encouraged them to pick out interesting things they might like to try. They then proceeded to the fifth floor, where they had to pass through the women’s underwear department. A saleswoman greeted them and asked the Pigman if he was looking for something for his daughter. Lorraine impulsively said that she was not his daughter but quickly qualified her answer when she saw the crestfallen look on the old man’s face; she declared that she was his niece. Mr. Pignati insisted that Lorraine get a package of nylon stockings, and Lorraine, terrified about what her mother would say when she brought them home, chose some in her mother’s size so she could give them to her as a gift.

In the toy department, Lorraine was disillusioned to see so many items promoting violence as well as the phoniness and lack of wonder symbolized by ships placed in bottles made of plastic with removable bottoms for easy access. Beyond the toy department was a pet shop, and Mr. Pignati, of course, immediately began communing with three little monkeys in a cage. Lorraine had to admit that the monkeys were poignant, clinging to each other and looking out at everybody with “tiny, wet eyes.” Mr. Pignati then decided that they should all get roller skates. Although a part of Lorraine protested because she did not want the old man to spend so much money on them, another part of her told her to just enjoy it and to allow herself to “be a child in a way [she] could never be with [her] mother, something just silly and absurd and...beautiful.” John decided that he would wear his new skates home, and Lorraine refrained from telling him he was crazy because she did not want to disappoint him. Lorraine understood that John, too, needed a release from his stifling home life. As they left the department store with the Pigman, talking and laughing happily, she thought that they were a lot like the three little monkeys, “lonely and sweet...hugging each other desperately...pleading for love.”

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