The Tower Pig Essay

This essay has a total of 1289 words and 5 pages.

The Tower Pig

What happens when in spite of all odds, foe becomes friend? What happens, when an infinite
and unending chasm between individuals is filled, and a void of mistrust, hatred and
prejudice is replaced with more noble values, such as understanding and a sense of mutual
respect? These are among the themes in the American short story, "The Tower Pig."

The story is set behind, and outside, the walls of the Thomaston Penitentiary in present
day America. The story essentially revolves around a young man who suffers the hardships
of imprisonment in an American correctional facility. The protagonist is throughout the
tale addressed only by his surname, Caine. Caine expresses incomprehensible anger he feels
for one of the wardens, an outcast despised by colleagues and inmates alike, and who is
commonly known as "The Tower Pig" by all the prisoners at the facility. "Pain, joy, worry,
are shielded away until the cell doors slam and we're alone in our solitude. For ten days
in the hole, I had nothing to do but hate Strazinsky, the Tower Pig, for putting me there,
and to mourn my grandmother, finally to sick to visit." When we are first introduced to
Caine, he has just come out of "The Hole." The Hole is presumably a slang expression for a
non-corporal punishment, which implies the use of isolation for the involved offender.
This sort of punishment is usually deployed as a reaction to a disciplinary offense; this
is also the case with Caine. Caine put in the hole because of a verbal fight with
Strazinsky. While Caine undoubtedly finds Strazinsky to be responsible for his punishment,
it seems, looking back in retrospective, that he is fully aware that he himself was to
blame; yet all Caine's inner turmoil and anger is channelled into his hate for Strazinsky,
and the fury towards his arch-enemy continues to blaze. Imprisonment tends to have a
debilitating effect on both mind and body alike. Therefore in order to counter a mental
breaking, one must deploy facades, facades that show strength and vitality, since any
behaviour expressing the slightest trait of weakness will be preyed upon by both inmates
and wardens. Caine seems fully aware of this, and prudently manages to keep all his fears
and doubts to himself. Caine is greatly disturbed upon learning about the death of his
beloved grandmother, the one person who, despite him being imprisoned, still managed to
show him both love and care. Caine is granted permission to go to her funeral, but in
spite of being only a minimum-security inmate, he must go in chains, and under the
vigilant eye of a designated warden.

Strazinsky is the warden in the Thomaston Penitentiary. He is the object that Cain directs
most of his hatred towards. "…Strazinsky stays up on the wall whenever he can,
sequestered in North Post, the gun tower that commands the prison street. Older inmates
will argue how long he's been the Tower Pig, but no one denies he's been on that wall
longer than most of us have been inside it. His brother officers, doing their eight hours
in the tower and loathing their isolation, don't know what to make of him. To them he's a
freak, an outcast, almost no better than the inmates." Strazinsky is an interesting
character, a secluded individual estranged from all at the penitentiary and the nemesis of
the main character. The hatred Caine has for Strazinsky seems repaid in kind at first,
only later does one learn that such an assumption is incorrect. What makes Strazinsky a
very interesting character is the fact that throughout the story he remains an enigma to
Continues for 3 more pages >>