Student Question

How is hyperbole used in The Pigman?

Quick answer:

Hyperbole is used in The Pigman to create humor and to bring the characters' personalities to life.

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The narrators, John Conlan and Lorraine Jensen, tell us the story of themselves and the Pigman in an immensely funny style. Hyperbole, which involves exaggerated claims that aren't meant to be taken seriously, is one of the elements of humor that author Paul Zindel uses to make his narrators funny.

We come across a great example of hyperbole at the end of the first chapter when John tells us that he's going to let Lorraine have a go on the typewriter "before she has a heart attack." Obviously, Lorraine is not really on the brink of a heart attack, but the hyperbole helps to create an image of how eager she was to have a turn at telling their story.

Hyperbole is once again used to create humor when John tells us that Lorraine's mother talks as though her daughter needs "internal plastic surgery and seventeen body braces" to be attractive. This is an obvious exaggeration, using humor to draw attention to the fact that Lorraine's self-esteem is negatively impacted by her mother's words.

When Lorraine is on the phone with Mr. Pignati, she states that due to his loneliness, he is just "dying to talk." Of course, he is not facing death at that moment, but the use of the word dying humorously conveys his eagerness for human contact.

Another example of hyperbole used to create humor can be seen when John describes his mother's hair after her trip to the beauty parlor. He exaggerates how frizzy it is by saying it looks like she just "rammed her fingers into an electric circuit."

In a nutshell, hyperbole is used in The Pigman to create humor and allow character quirks to be showcased.

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