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A Day No Pigs Would Die

Summary Chapter 6
Summary Chapter 6

He does as he is told, and then the tutoring begins. Aunt Matty rattles off three versions of a sentence and asks Robert which one was grammatically correct. Robert responds that he thought they all sounded right, and Aunt Matty responds that the problem is, "Just as I expected from the first." Robert does not know how to diagram a sentence. Aunt Matty endeavors to show him, but when he doesn't even know where to begin, she gets angry and ends up doing the whole sentence herself. "Here," she tells him, sweating, "Take it up to your room and pin it on the wall." Robert does just that and then thanks Aunt Matty and gets ready to do his chores. As he is running toward the barn with Pinky close behind, he hears Aunty Matty telling Mrs. Peck, "Next time, I'll teach the pig."

Analysis

The humorous episode between Robert and Aunty Matty illustrates that though Robert is well on his way towards becoming a man, he is still completely naïve. It is important to note, however, that throughout the ordeal, Robert is completely straightforward and honest. Where Robert's character at the beginning of the book may have backed down from Aunt Matty the way that he backed down from Edward Thatcher, the Robert of June says exactly what he thinks. The source of this confidence is debatable, but some likely sources are the continued teachings of his father, of course, and the confidence that always comes with having a friend. Simply having Pinky around, and the knowledge that Pinky will never make fun of his clothes or education may be a major contributor to Robert's growing confidence and self-respect.

Aunt Matty is also an interesting character. Her appearance in this chapter is her only major contribution to the story and, thus, begs the question, "What is her purpose?" She is a Baptist and a former English teacher. She is married to Robert's Uncle Hume, and she tells us that the marriage is what ended her teaching career. She is also a very large woman, a feature that seems amplified to Robert by the expansive flower print dress that she wears. All of these attributes contribute to the grotesque, almost monster like impression that Robert has of Aunt Matty, and he interacts with her as such. This immature view is another sign that Robert has not quite grown up yet. By the end of the book Robert understands that there is nothing wrong with being different and thus can deal with Aunt Matty in a normal way, making sure that she gets invited to the funeral and displaying his true maturity.

Robert Newton Peck uses humor along with endearing country dialogue to a variety of purposes in A Day No Pigs Would Die. Robert's misunderstanding of certain words and his naïveté, especially in the ordeal with Aunt Matty, along with Haven's honest humor do a lot to break up what would otherwise be an oppressively depressing book. The shadows of poverty and death are ever present, but they are rarely noticed because of the attitudes of the characters and the intermittent episodes of humor.

Robert's 'D' in English when seen next to the 'A's that he receives in every other subject is another clue to understanding his character. Clearly, he is very competent at learning new things. It can be safely assumed that before school, Robert knew nothing about mathematics, history, or the other subjects in which he gets 'A's. However, Robert gets a 'D' in English, which he has been speaking all of his life. This can be interpreted as another of Haven Peck's personality traits that has rubbed off on young Robert. He is stubbornly set in the ways of the things that he knows how to do. Just as Haven will not let Robert start going to baseball games just because everyone else is doing it, Robert does not change his warm, personal, though not completely correct speech just because his teachers try to make him.