What matters to you most in life?

Avoid serious soul-searching and take this simple (bordering on idiotic) test (but it is kind of fun), courtesy of Paul Zindel’s “The Pigman”, which I read in the 8th grade:

There is a river with a bridge over it and a wife and her husband live in a house on one side. The wife has a lover who lives on the other side of the river, and the only way to get from one side of the river to the other is to walk across the bridge or to ask the boatman to take you. One day the husband tells his wife that he has to be gone all night to handle some business in a faraway town. The wife pleads with him to take her with him because sheThe Pigman puzzle knows if he doesn’t she will be unfaithful to him. The husband absolutely refuses to take her because she will only be in the way of his important business. So the husband goes alone. When he is gone, the wife goes over the bridge and stays with her lover. The night passes, and the sun is almost up when the wife leaves because she must get back to her own house before her husband gets home. She starts to cross the bridge, but she sees an assassin waiting for her on the other side, and she knows if she tries to cross, he will murder her. In terror, she runs up the side of the river and asks the boatman to take her across, but he wants fifty cents. She has no money, so he refuses to take her. The wife runs back to the lover’s house, and explains to him what her predicament is. She asks him for fifty cents to pay the boatman. The lover refuses, telling her it’s her own fault for getting into the situation. As dawn comes up, the wife is nearly out of her mind and decided to dash across the bridge. When she comes face to face with the assassin. He takes out a large knife and stabs her until she dies. Write down the names of the characters in the order in which you think they were most responsible for the wife’s death. Just list wife, husband, lover, assassin, and boatman in the order you think they are most guilty.


Each of the characters is a symbol for something and you have betrayed what is most important to you in life.

Wife= fun

Husband= love

Lover= sex

Assassin= money

Boatman= magic

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  1. Cool! Im not sure I get it though.. did I betray fun??

    Comment by isabella snow — November 2, 2007 @ 1:10 am

  2. I can’t tell from the passage whether the wife told her husband that she would cheat on him if he didn’t take her along, or just asked him to take her without explaining why. Seems like that would make a difference.

    Comment by Amy — February 27, 2008 @ 3:38 am

  3. Assassin, wife, lover, boatman, husband..
    Money, fun, sex, magic, love

    Did I betray love? I’m confused.

    Comment by Fredd — March 5, 2008 @ 11:15 pm

  4. Therefore if you thought that the lover was the most responsible then sex is the most important thing in your life. If you thought that the wife was second most responsible then fun is the second most important thing in your life and so on.

    Comment by a — March 21, 2008 @ 9:09 pm

  5. you guys are thinking too hard about this. like ‘a’ said, if you think the husband was most guilty, than love is the most important thing to you in life-out of the above choices of course. if you’re still having trouble completely understanding it, just read the story slow, without the question in mind. when you get done with the story, read the question and just do it sort of blankly: “who do you think is the most guilty?” answer, THEN go back and figure out which is supposed to be the one you care most about.
    i like this story/question thing, however i absolutely love the pigman book(s).

    Comment by b — July 7, 2008 @ 3:19 pm

  6. b, was there another Pigman book?

    Comment by JM — July 7, 2008 @ 10:10 pm

  7. i hope they movie out of this with a pretty girl lorraine and a hot guy john like the book cover and they include the second book in the first movie too and also make a second movie and also the movie pigman should make lorraine and john really fall in love

    Comment by deanna — August 4, 2008 @ 3:03 pm

  8. I say the police are to blame. At 5-6 in the morning, this lady can see an assassin poised to kill her from across the bridge. Why isn’t this guy arrested!?!

    What have I turned my back on? Justice?

    I’m really just joking. An interesting story and something to ponder in this little bit of free time that I have.

    Comment by T — August 27, 2009 @ 12:02 pm

  9. I absolutely love this book! my order is; wife, boatman, lover, husband, asassin (fun, magic, sex, love, money) how strangely accruate!

    Comment by Moe — October 6, 2009 @ 3:29 pm


    Comment by mr t — January 14, 2011 @ 5:02 am

  11. nice article!
    my order is: husband, wife, lover, boatman and assasin

    Comment by mac2xace — July 10, 2011 @ 3:55 am

  12. ^^^ I could only see the husband being the most guilty if he knew the wife would cheat if he didn’t take her with him.

    My order: wife, assassin, lover, husband, boatman

    I loved this book as a teen – I want to re-read it!

    Comment by Helena Handbasket — July 22, 2011 @ 4:59 pm

  13. If only accruate was accurate. I feel betrayed by the word betrayed…it has confused the meaning/outcome of the story

    Comment by Bubzdad — January 9, 2012 @ 11:28 pm

  14. this sucks

    Comment by jake — May 13, 2012 @ 11:32 am

  15. Their are two settings. it was the womans choice to go over there, so thats why shes most guilty. She told the husband she will betray him if her leaves her. so hes next. The assassin is third because he shouldn’t have been trying to kill anyone. 4th would be the lover, because he should’ve given her measly 50 cents. Plus they shouldnt have been fooling around. Last is the boatman because he was right for charging her, she crossed to betray her husband, and he knew this. Thats mine! haha

    Comment by Lauren — May 1, 2013 @ 7:15 pm

  16. This is so badly written I may have misunderstood but surely anyone who doesnt blame the assassin has a warped sense of personal responsibility? I saw:

    Assassin (as a murderer)
    Boater & lover = she asked for help, they said no.
    Woman = she is responsible for having left the house & being where she is.
    Husband = happened to go away, but didnt know about assassin & didnt know she would be leaving the island.

    Unless the husband arranged the assassin.

    Comment by Juliet — March 6, 2014 @ 8:33 am

  17. Why isn’t anyone wondering:
    Who HIRED the assassin?

    Comment by ali-n — January 3, 2016 @ 12:43 pm

  18. I think my priorities are in the reverse order from what my answers indicated.
    I think it’s because I assigned greatest responsibility with the most flimsy excuse i.e. I held them from most to least responsible in the following order (with their ‘excuses’) so rather than what value they’re betraying, it’s more what value do I think excuses a negative consequence the most (so the least responsible person is the person with the value system that is most like my own):
    1. Wife: if you know you shouldn’t do something, and do it anyway, and then suffer for it, it’s kind of your own ruddy fault, isn’t it? So I think she has no excuse: you make a bad call, you pay the price.
    2. Husband: it’s likely he was the one to hire the assassin, but I’m not sure. If he was, then he probably would’ve been assigned the #1 spot, tied with the wife, because killing someone over infidelity is… a little harsh, I think (it might depend on the time period this is set in). But if he wasn’t, then he was just minding his own business, in which case I would lower him down to last equal with the Boatman (though it’d be nice if he actually listened to his spouse a little more). He’s only #2 because I’m not sure where else to put him.
    3. Lover: the wife’s troubles aren’t his problem, really. I think it’s a bit like your friend getting in trouble with a financial company and then begging you for money. You (m’friend) should’ve thought things through first — I’m not paying your debt for you. Again, bad decision, bad consequences on the wife’s part.
    4. Assassin: while he might’ve been responsible for someone’s death that night, it wouldn’t have mattered to him who he killed. He could’ve just as easily killed any of the other characters of the story (except himself) so I don’t feel he’s specifically responsible for the wife’s death, just deaths in general. He’s just an agent of someone else’s will, so it’s like blaming the murder weapon for the murder when you usually should blame the murderer.
    5. Boatman: not only do I think he didn’t do a bad thing that night (unlike ranks 1-4), I think he was making the right decision. One: the wife does not explain her predicament to him, so no sympathy points from him. Two: he’s already working the graveyard shift: sounds to me like someone’s having a kind of tough time financially, so every cent counts. Three: if he makes an exception for her, then he has to make an exception for everyone until he ends up ferrying people for free. Even Charon charged for his services you know!

    Which kind of means I was ranking them on a reverse ranking scale with different values (i.e. the values associated with the excuses) involved, making my value-system thus:
    1. Boatman: money/professionalism
    2. Assassin: professionalism
    3. Lover: refusal to take responsibility for someone else’s mistake even if this is to the detriment of the overall situation (i.e. a lack of view for the bigger picture)
    4. Husband: workaholic + poor communication with spouse
    5. Wife: bad decision-making

    Which, considering 3-5 contain negative values, and the rational for 1-2 are practically the same, doesn’t say that much other than ‘I think weirdly’.

    Comment by Anonymous — January 23, 2016 @ 2:47 pm

  19. This is so funny!!!! We did this in ELA class, and one person answered lover, once we found out what each meant, it was pretty awkward.

    Comment by S — September 26, 2016 @ 2:12 pm

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