Why is Norton curious about Mr. Pignati in The Pigman and how does John react?

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Norton is curious about Mr. Pignati because he wants to exploit the old man.  He wonders if the Pigman "has...got anything worth stealing", and is excited when John tries to divert his interest by telling him that all the old man's got "are some tools and stuff".  Norton associates with "this lunatic man on Richmond Avenue who makes believe he's the leader of organized crime on Staten Island", who will give Norton money for stolen goods.  Norton wants to know more about what Mr. Pignati has because "there's a big market for electronics".

John reacts to Norton's questions with annoyance.  At first he tries to be evasive, hoping that Norton will get the idea that there would be nothing to gain by harassing the old man.  When that doesn't work, and Norton insists on knowing why he and Lorraine, whom he calls a "screech owl", go over to Mr. Pignati's place so much, John changes the subject, getting angry and challenging his lowlife friend for calling Lorraine by that derogatory name.  John and Norton exchange words, and the confrontation ends with Norton threatening to "pay (the Pigman) as visit real soon".

John reacts as he does because he doesn't want Norton to hurt the Pigman.  Norton has a long history of getting in trouble, and John recognizes that "he's the type of guy who could grow up to be a killer".  John really likes Mr. Pignati; the Pigman treats him with a love and respect that he has never experienced before, "and always with a big smile so you (know) he mean(s) it".  The Pigman has become a dear and important person in his life, and John is protective of him.  He knows "(he'd) kill Norton if he tried to hurt the old man" (Chapter 9).

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Why is Norton so curious about Mr. Pignati? 

Norton has a history of being mean and a thief. John explains in chapter nine that Norton's mom let him play with dolls when he was a kid. When he got older, kids at school found out and teased him, so he turned into a bully and started stealing things. When Norton stalks John and Lorraine, he finds out that they have been hanging out with an older man named Mr. Pignati. He is at first curious why John and Lorraine would be hanging out with an older guy, rather than going to the cemetery with him to drink beer; but he also wonders what valuables might be in the house. He asks John if Mr. Pignati has any radios, TVs, or anything else of value. When John won't give Norton the information he wants, he says the following:

 "If you don't give me a little more information about that old goat, maybe Dennis and me will pay a little visit over there ourselves" (102).

This threat is a foreshadowing of what is to come later. It also shows that Norton's interests are not good.

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From Zindel's The Pigman, why is Norton so curious about Mr. Pignati? How does John react to Norton's questions? Why?  

Norton Kelly is a classmate of John and Lorraine's. They sometimes drink with him in the cemetery, or hang out and make prank calls together, but they don't really like him. In chapter 9, Lorraine points out that Norton grew up playing with dolls and kids made fun of him for it. By age ten, he went "berserk." She explains further as follows:

"From then on he turned tough guy all the way. He was always picking fights and throwing stones and beating up everybody. In fact, he got so tough he used to go around calling the other guys sissies" (99).

Norton is also a thief. Based on Norton's previous criminal experiences, John and Lorraine don't want to involve Norton in their small con to get $10.00 out of Mr. Pignati. Before John and Lorraine go to visit Mr. Pignati as "charity collectors," John thinks about Norton and knows he must keep him out of the loop. John explains in chapter 5 the following:

"If [Norton] knew about it, he'd try to hustle in on the deal, and he'd never stop at ten dollars. I don't want anyone really to take advantage of the old man. . . not the way Norton would have" (31).

As John and Lorraine become closer friends and start hanging out at Mr. Pignati's place, Norton must feel rejected. He eventually follows the couple and confronts John about what they do at that house with an old man. He also asks if the old man has things he could lift off of him. John either ignores Norton's questions or down-plays what Mr. Pignati has in the house. For example, Mr. Pignati has three television sets, but John doesn't disclose that information to Norton. He doesn't want to entice Norton to burglarize the poor man. By this time, John cares for and wants to protect Mr. Pignati from any harm.

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