A Day No Pigs Would Die

Summary

Chapter 8

Summary Chapter 8

Analysis

A very important difference between the Hillman family and the Peck Family is revealed when Haven and Robert stop Sebring Hillman from desecrating Letty Phelps's grave. Sebring Hillman is trying to dig up the past. He want to make right something that he did wrong a long time a go and never got over. Even though what he did wrong did was against Haven Peck's kin, Haven does not care what Sebring did; he just wants to leave it buried. Whereas Sebring wants to change the past, Haven simply accepts that which he cannot help. He takes things as they are, not even allowing Hillman to apologize because there is no need for him to.

By his kindness to Sebring Hillman, it is obvious that Haven believes very strongly in the Shaker doctrine not to judge others. The sins that Mr. Hillman has committed are about the worst possible. The Shaker religion forbids sex, never mind sex outside of marriage. Even with all the damage that Sebring had done to Haven's kin, Haven still treats Sebring as he would any other neighbor. For similar sins under another religion, Sebring could have been tarred, feathered, and hung. Part of the reason that Mrs. Hillman comes to the Pecks in the first place was probably that she knew that they would not be judgmental.

It is interesting to examine why Haven chooses to bring Robert along to stop Mr. Hillman. There is no real utility in bringing him along, and, even by the end, Robert really doesn't understand what is going on. By bringing Robert, Haven demonstrates the trust that he has for his son. The two interact exactly as adults do throughout the ordeal. Robert does everything that Haven asks him to do without a word of complaint, despite his inconvenience. Though Robert does not understand what is going on, he seems to understand that it is an important adult affair and behaves with proper solemnity throughout. In doing so Robert proves worthy of the trust that Haven has placed in him.

When Robert, Haven, and Mr. Hillman return home, Robert is immediately brought down from his position with the adults by his mother, who strips him naked, dries him, and gives him a spoonful of honey for his trouble. She does not want Robert to grow up too fast, and Robert does not mind that either. Exhausted and still a little bit confused, he returns to bed.

The ordeal ends with Mr. Hillman saying to his wife, "Let's go home, May." Though they do not speak of the event or attempt to apologize for wrongs done, there is a peace between them. For once and for all, the past can be buried, figuratively and literally, and life will go on.