In Zindel's The Pigman, what is the fruit roll and when was it unsuccessful?

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The answer to this question can be found in chapter 1 of Paul Zindel's The Pigman. This chapter is narrated by John, and he begins the chapter by telling readers that he hates school.

Actually, I hate school, but then again most of the time I hate everything.

John then goes on to tell readers that he hates school so much that he earned himself the nickname "Bathroom Bomber." He got the nickname because he would set off firecracker bombs in the bathroom; however, John figured out a way to create a delayed fuse to give himself eight minutes or so to get somewhere else. Consequently, he was never caught.

John's next story of being an all around pain of a student is about organizing the Wednesday "fruit roll" mischief. He goes on to explain that the fruit rolling would only work on Wednesdays with substitute teachers. John would have his entire class buy the old apples and bring them to class.

But on Wednesdays when I knew there was going to be a substitute teaching one of the classes, I’d pass the word at lunch and all the kids in that class would buy these scrawny apples. Then we’d take them to class and wait for the right moment—like when the substitute was writing on the blackboard.

Upon John's signal, the entire class would roll their apples down the rows of desks, and it would sound like a herd of buffalo. I suppose the goal is to scare the substitute teacher with the thunderous noise.

John did back out of a fruit roll on one occasion. The substitute teacher was a former postal service employee, and the guy was so passionate about his former career that John couldn't bring himself to ruin his day. The fruit roll wasn't so much of a failure as it was something that just got cancelled because John never gave the signal.

He was so enthusiastic about the old days at the P.O. I just didn’t have the heart to give the signals, and the kids were a little put out because they all got stuck with old apples.

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John created the "super-colossal fruit roll" when he got bored of being the Bathroom Bomber (2). The "fruit roll" could only be done on Wednesdays when a substitute was teaching. First, John would tell the kids in the class after lunch to buy the old apples sold on Wednesdays in the lunchroom. Then, the kids would bring their apples to class and wait for John to clear his throat. That was the signal to get their apples in hand. Then after he would sneeze, all of the students were to place their apples down near the floor and wait for his whistle. Once John whistled, the kids would roll them towards the substitute teacher. He said that the sound of the apples rolling sounded like "a herd of buffalo stampeding" (3).

The one time the fruit roll did not work is when John felt sad for the substitute who was a former postman. John explains as follows:

"He was so enthusiastic about the old days at the P.O. I just didn't have the heart to give the signals, and the kids were a little put out because they all got stuck with old apples" (3).

The anecdote about the "fruit roll" is significant to the indirect characterization of John. John is portrayed as a rebel and a bad boy, but he also shows compassion and the fact that he does have a heart.

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