Literature Analysis Sample of “A Day No Pigs Would Die”

Posted on July 23, 2010

“Somebody once told me that a cow won’t bite. That somebody is as wrong as a sin on Sunday” (pg. 8). This little incident is the event that really gets the story on a move. A Day No Pigs Would Die narrates Robert Peck’s adolescent life in rural Vermont during the nineteen twenties. A Day No Pigs Would Die is a true story, written in first person, through the eyes of a Robert Newton Peck. The mood of the this story is smooth and uneventful with a few spots of joy and sadness. Much of the mood is derived from the plain and natural setting of rural Vermont. A Day No Pigs Would Die takes place during the nineteen twenties on the Peck’s family farm and the surrounding New England countryside. The Peck’s own a simple farm consisting of a dark brown log farmhouse, a plank board corn-cratch, and an old log milk barn. To the north of the Peck farm lies the Tanner’s farm. The Tanner’s farm is much newer and larger with many sprawling pastures and a large, modern milk barn. Behind these two farms, a high ridge stretches in to the rolling Vermont foothills. From on top of this ridge Robert can see almost to Rutland. The site of the bustling and exciting county fair.

The protagonist of A Day No Pigs Would Die is a five-foot tall, skinny, loving and sensitive farm boy with brown hair and brown eyes named Robert Peck. Robert is an innocent romantic who dreams of fame. He is very excited about learning and because of this he begins to inwardly questions generations of traditions and religious beliefs. Although Robert is not a fighter, he is strong willed. Nevertheless, he often tolerates injustices for the sake of other people’s feelings. Robert is often confused by the evils of the world. Sometimes he finds himself atop the ridge behind his farm trying to piece together some of is troubles.

There are a number of antagonists in A Day No Pigs Would Die. Nature seems to cause the most trouble for the Robert and his family. The Peck’s are always scrambling to grow enough food to last through the next cold season. Another prevalent antagonist is Robert’s situation. Robert wants to be famous but, that is against his religion. Also, his family does not have enough money to send him college or anywhere else. An additional antagonist is the time period. The twenties were a time of change for many Americans. Robert wants to change but, his family, his town and his peers are unsympathetic.

A Day No Pigs Would Die has a very complex and important cast of secondary characters. The secondary characters include: Robert’s immediate family, his neighbors and Pinky (A pig that is also Robert’s best friend). Robert’s father, Haven Peck is the most significant secondary character. The climax and denouement of this story are both dependent on him. Haven is a sixty-year-old farmer. He is a good and simple man who loves his family. Haven lives a hard life running the family farm and slaughtering hogs for extra money. He never learned to read or write so he encourages these skills in Robert. Robert’s mother is a gentle who does not play a important part in the story but, is always there for Robert when he needs a loving hand. She takes care of the house and cooks the meals. Robert’s aunt Carrie does not play an important role either. She lives on the farm though. Pinky, the pig, is Robert’s best friend. Pinky was just a squealy piglet when Mr. Tanner, the Peck’s neighbor, gave her to Robert. As the story progresses Pinky and Robert spend more and more, time together. Pinky follows Robert while he does his chores. They go on walks together and Robert even takes Pinky to the Rutland County Fair where she wins a blue ribbon for best-behaved pig (pg. 100). The Tanner’s are a younger couple who sees Robert as the son they never had. They often take Robert with them on their trips to town. Widow Bascom is also one of the Peck’s neighbors. She was once a stingy woman who, on occasion, hit Robert with a broomstick (pg. 81). She fell in love with a hired hand named Ira Long (pg. 79) and her wickedness disappeared.

There are many struggles in A Day No Pigs Would Die. The most consequential was the conflict between Robert and his life. All of the minor conflicts pertain to the conflict between Robert and his life. Robert wants be famous and rich. He knows this will be a terrific challenge. Robert wants to be affluent. Unfortunately that is against his family’s religion. Robert is constantly butting heads with his father about their moral and religious beliefs (pg. 25). Robert wants to lead a happy, carefree life but, he never has the chance to amid the misfortunes in his adolescence. Another significant conflict involves the Peck’s and nature. The peck’s are continuously toiling have enough food to make it through the next winter (pg. 116). A smaller conflict is between The Peck’s and the Tanner’s. This conflict is never recognized directly. The Peck’s are silently envious of the Tanner’s fertile and beautiful farm.

Through the course of A Day No Pigs Would Die it was understood that Pinky would grow up to be a brood sow, baring a litter of piglets three to four times a year for the Peck’s to sell(pg. 23). In late November Robert makes arrangements to have Pinky bred with Mr. Tanners boar (pg. 123). After Pinky has been bred two times and does not become pregnant or even into full heat it is obvious that she is unable to conceive (pg. 134). Robert’s Father decides that Pinky must be slaughtered for food. This is the turning point of the book.

After Pinky is found to be unable to bare offspring she must be slaughtered. Robert knows this and dreads it with all his heart. One brisk November morning Robert and his father take to the task of slaughtering Pinky(pg. 135). Robert must hold Pinky, who he loves dearly, as her intestines plop onto his feet and she starts to squeal hysterically. Robert wants nothing more than to stop Pinky’s suffering, though he knows he cannot. Robert endures a gray and dismal winter in which his father his fights a horrible lung infection. The denouement of this story comes one chilly morning in early spring. Robert wakes to milk the cow, goes to the barn and finds his father dead on the hay(pg. 141). Robert alerts his mother and a simple funeral is arranged. All of the Peck’s neighbors and friend’s come to pay respect for their deceased companion. After the service Robert buries his father in the family plot on a peaceful corner of the farm.

In conclusion, the theme of A Day No Pigs Would Die is that of hard farm life. A life that when things are bad one can not stop to grieve or vomit. Lives that most people choose not to live anymore. A life that some feel is dangerous and laborious. A life that may be hard, laborious, and even dangerous but, someone had live it.

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