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A Day No Pigs Would Die

Robert Newton Peck


Study Questions and Suggested Essay Topics

Study Questions

Explain what Pinky represents to Robert in A Day No Pigs Would Die.

Pinky is Robert's best friend. In the time spanned by A Day No Pigs Would Die, Robert never sees another boy his age. All of the things that Robert would do with a human friend, he does with Pinky. They play around in the fields together, watch the sunset, and Robert even makes a flutterwheel for her.

Pinky also represents Robert's hopes of becoming more than a farmer. Already knowing that his father is dying, when Robert discovers that Pinky is dying, it means that he will not be able to use the offspring to help pay off the farm and that he will have to leave school to support the family. It also means that Pinky will have to die so that the family will have enough food to make it through the winter.

What is the function of humor in A Day No Pigs Would Die?

Humor serves to lighten the mood of this otherwise morbid book. A Day No Pigs Would Die deals with some very serious issues, but it reads very easily, partially because of the comical interludes between serious parts. The humor helps the moments when the book is very serious. If the tone of the entire book were as serious as it is at Haven's funeral, nothing would stand out.

Humor also helps readers connect with characters. Mistakes like thinking that a "tutor" is a trumpet and pervert is a rule of grammar help readers understand Robert's innocence and naïveté. This innocence endears Robert to us and makes us feel more strongly for him in his moments of distress.

Why does Robert kiss his father's hand when they are finished butchering Pinky?

When Robert kisses his father's bloody hand, the act symbolizes Robert forgiving his father for killing Pinky and all the other pigs that Haven has had to kill over the years in order to sustain the family. The moment says that Robert finally understands what his father has been preaching to him all along about doing what has to be done.

This is also the most emotional moment in the book between these two characters. They never say, "I love you," or anything of that sort. The kiss says all that without words. While Robert is kissing the hand, he thinks to himself that he would forgive his father even if he killed him, so the kiss also symbolizes trust. The kiss is also a sort of thank you for everything that Haven had done for Robert to make him into a man. It is not until that moment that Robert really understands or appreciates it all.

Suggested Essay Topics

Explain Haven Peck's "mission" in life. Is it really just slaughtering pigs? What are the missions of some of the other characters in the book?

Do you think that Robert will follow in his father's footsteps and not only maintain the farm but slaughter pigs? Expounding the events in the sequel, A Part of the Sky, does not answer this question.

Why do you think that Robert runs away from his fight with Edward Thatcher in the beginning of the first chapter? Think of this in terms of the things from which Robert does not back down later in the story.

Why is Robert so desperate to go to the Rutland Fair? How does this relate to his Shaker beliefs? Why do you think his parents let him go?

Why do you think that the author chooses to include so many seemingly inconsequential episodes of death, e.g. the hawk, the squirrel, and the ferret?

More Help

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Samson and Solomon

by twistleton, January 02, 2014

The ox is Solomon; Mr. Tanner's boar hog is Samson.


2 out of 3 people found this helpful

Apron and Daisy

by sewingmama, January 06, 2014


cow, Bib and Bob's mother
Daisy: The Peck's dairy cow

Apron and Daisy

by sewingmama, January 06, 2014


cow, Bib and Bob's mother
Daisy: The Peck's dairy cow


1 out of 2 people found this helpful

See all 5 readers' notes   →

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