Perfect the Pig
By Susan Jeschke
Perfect the pig is finally granted his wish to be a pig with wings. Now his life is perfect! Or is it?...
Guidelines for Philosophical Discussion
When Perfect is born, he is so small and meek that he goes unnoticed by everyone. Even his own mother. He wishes to be noticed. He gets his chance after helping a large disabled sow to her feet after she has fallen. Like a fairy godmother, the sow grants Perfect a wish. He wishes for wings, and gets just what we wishes for. Now around the farm Perfect is indeed noticed, but is far from accepted. The other pigs tell him to go fly away and be with the birds. When he does, the birds ostracize his as well. Having gone from just wanting to be noticed, to just wanting to fit in, the pig flies to the city where he meets Olive, an affectionate artist who takes him in. When he kisses Olive out of appreciation, she names him ""Perfect."" They become friends. As Olive is an artist, she soon starts painting pictures of Perfect ""posed among fruit and vegetables,"" and thereby prospers. ""Soon the apartment was crowded with pictures, fruits and vegetables, and a growing Perfect."" Everything seems to be going perfectly for Perfect until one day, when out for his daily fly, he falls into unkind hands. The dastardly man mistreats Perfect, and forces him to perform for money. The man keeps Perfect in a cage, and all of the money for himself. All is not lost, however, and the story seems to get its quintessential happy ending when Olive finally rescues Perfect from the evil villain.
Is this supposed to be a story about a misfit who finds his place? Or is it about being careful what you wish for? Or is it a story about the nature of friendship? Or is it about business ethics? "Perfect the Pig" is a mishmash of a little of everything. As such it is the kind of story that could lend itself as a springboard to philosophical discussions in several different directions. One theme worth developing a bit more, however, is about the nature of friendship.
Olive is really the only character in the story that seems to treat Perfect like a friend. But like the villain of the story, Olive gets a lot of external benefits from having Perfect around. In short, both profit from their relationship with Perfect. So why do we feel so inclined to say that while Olive is Perfect's friend, the man is not? Clearly part of the explanation is in how each of them treated perfect. Olive made perfect her muse, while the man stuck him in a cage. Olive fed Perfect fresh fruits and veggies, while the man fed him garbage. If we set aside this mistreatment, however, both of them used Perfect in a particular way to meet their own ends. One might wonder, then, if it is possible whether a real friend would ever use someone else to meet their own ends. Perfect seems to like Olive, and she him, but is this enough for friendship? I think the key to understanding the difference between how the man uses Perfect and how Olive does is to examine the internal benefits that the relationship provides them. Perfect loves Olive, and Olive seems genuinely to love Perfect. So while Olive may benefit externally from her friendship with Perfect, this is secondary to the internal benefits they offer each other. Still, it is an interesting question whether Olive is doing something wrong in the way she treats Perfect. This could lead a discussion from the nature of friendship, to the ethical question of what is the proper way to treat a friend.
Questions for Philosophical Discussion
In the beginning of the story, the little pig is ignored and mistreated by the other pigs and by the birds because he is different.
When the little pig gets kicked off the farm he flies into the city and winds up on Olive’s balcony. She takes him in, feeds him, and calls him “Perfect”.
When Perfect got lost, he was found by a man who took him home, fed him garbage, and finally put him in a cage.
The man that finds Perfect forces him to fly around for money and then keeps all the money for himself.
The woman, Olive, also finds Perfect and uses him for her art, which she then sells.