Albee, Edward - The Zoo Story

Presentation / Essay (Pre-University), 2000

5 Pages

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Edward Albee: "The Zoo Story"

1. Structure of the play

- part 1 (pages 11-21): Jerry gets to know Peter

- part 2a) (pages 22-29): Jerry' s living conditions and past; b) (pages 30-36): the story of Jerry and the dog · Peter gets to know Jerry

- part 3 (pages 36-end): Jerry provokes Peter · Jerry' s death

2. Characterisation of Peter Jerry

Peter Jerry

- a man in his early forties

- p.15: married, two daughters, two cats, two parakeets

- p.19: lives on 74th street; east side of Manhattan (posh area)

- p.18: works in a small publishing house

- insecure

- embarrassed

- polite

- (rather) conservative

- inexperienced

- reticent

- childish

- serious person

- a man in late thirties

- unmarried

- p.22: lives on the west side of Manhattan; lives in a run-down (runtergekommen) rooming-house (poor neighbourhood)

- work: unknown

- insecure

- verbally aggressive (he insults Peter) and he resorts to physical violence

- unscrupulous and inquisitive: he forces his company upon Peter/he forces Peter to converse with him

- ironical/cynical

- he is dominating

3. Jerry' s social and family background:

- his mother (= an alcoholic · Mr. Barleycorn) left his father when he was 10_ years

- thus, his father took to drinking after his wife' s death and he died of an accident _ at the age of 11_ Jerry was an orphan

- he was brought up by a pious aunt who died on the day of his high school graduation _ unhappy childhood/broken family

4. Jerry' s problems and aims


- he feels lonely

- he lacks company

- he has no one to talk to

- he feels misunderstood

- he desperately tries to come into contact with other people

- he is an outsider, utterly depressed, unhappy

- he is unable to establish a relationship with other people


- he tries to establish a relationship with another person

- he tries to befriend somebody

Reasons for Jerry' s inability to make friends/for his loneliness:

- childhood experiences (no real family life in his youth)

- psychological problems (he cannot deal with other people)

- anonymity/impersonality of a big city

- alienation of the individual in big cities/in modern society

- big gap between the haves and the have-nots

5. Jerry' s relationship with other people

- p.23: two empty picture frames

- p.25/35: no relationship with women (the contact is restricted to prostitutes)

- p.22/27: no relationship with the other roomers (exception: the drunken landlady tries to seduce him · Jerry feels disgusted with her)

People in the rooming-house:

- a black transvestite; a Puerto Rican family; a crying woman; a person he has never seen; the landlady

- all tenants of the rooming-house are outsiders _ they are exotic looking

- they are strange

- they live in terribly small rooms under bad living conditions _ a mixture of all kinds of people

- the house can be likened to a "human zoo"; the rooms are cages; the people can be compared to animals in captivity

6. The Story of Jerry and the Dog (pages 30-36) - [the development of the relationship between Jerry and the dog]

- overriding principle: "If you can't deal with people, you have to make a start somewhere." (page 34)

a) the dog dislikes Jerry · Jerry tries to make friends with the dog (pages 30-31/32)
b) Jerry fails · he tries to kill the dog (page 32, line 5)
c) Jerry wants the dog to survive (page 33, lines 13f.) · he is interested in a new relationship (page 33) · 1st encounter after the dog's recovery, Jerry loves the dog (page 34): Jerry hopes that the dog will understand
d) Jerry and the dog "made contact" (page 34): · no real relationship

- lack of communication between Jerry and the dog (page 35): "mixture of sadness and suspicion; [they] feign indifference" · Jerry feels disappointed (· "loss"): "We neither love nor hurt because we do not try to reach each other." (page 36)

- Jerry has gained new insight: "Kindness and cruelty, the two combined, together, at the same time, are the teaching emotion." (page 36)

- = a means of coming into contact

- = learning process

- the dog is a substitute for human beings for other people

7. Jerry's relationship with Peter

{· How do Jerry's experiences with the dog influences the way he treats Peter?} "kindness and cruelty combined ..."


- Jerry pays compliments (page 13/18)

- Jerry flatters him (page 18)

- [Jerry tickles him (page 38) · disrespectful behaviour?]

- Jerry makes Peter interested in the conversation by telling him "the zoo story" (· by hinting at the zoo)

- [Jerry asks him questions] cruelty:

- verbal and psychological abuse:

- page 41: Jerry calls him a "bastard"

- page 42: Jerry calls him a "vegetable" etc.

- pages 46-47: Jerry attacks Peter verbally (· impotent)

- physical violence:

- page 47: Jerry spits in Peter's face

- page 40: Jerry pokes and punches Peter

- page 47: Jerry threatens Peter with his knife _ Jerry provokes Peter to kill him

8. The ending: Does Jerry achieve his aim to establish a relationship with another human being?

yes no

- p.48: Jerry thanks (/likes) Peter; Peter has comforted him

- p.49: Jerry apologises to Peter; Peter is moved/touched · he weeps · Jerry has succeeded in establishing a relationship with another human being (with Peter) {under absurd (lethal, suicidal fight; planned "murder-suicide" (after the "story" with the dog Jerry is disillusioned and plans his death carefully) circumstances and for a very short time (at the moment of dying)}

- the relationship does not last (a relationship is something mutual (here: one-sided); Peter does not like Jerry)

- Peter is a means to an end

- a relationship is something spontaneous, develops, is not planned

- Peter is shocked, not touched

9. ·Message of the play

- live is inhuman, brutal and cruel

- society drives Jerry to his fatal deed

- isolation and a lack of communication are the most serious problems of our modern/technical society · everybody needs somebody he can talk to, otherwise he becomes crazy and is driven to such a fatal deed

10. The significance of the zoo At the zoo:

- Jerry gains new insight into life

- Parallel: animals live alone in their cages; people live in isolation, too

- There is a similarity between the way in which animals live in the zoo and the way in which human beings live together/communicate with one another

- message 2:

- life/society is a kind of zoo

- the bars (= something real) separate animals

- feelings, money, colour of skin, race, religion, social class, attitudes, interests and lack of

interests, generation gap, separate people

- Jerry wants to die, because he cannot bear this situation

- the zoo is a microcosm of real life

5 of 5 pages


Albee, Edward - The Zoo Story
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
File size
347 KB
Albee, Edward, Story
Quote paper
Patrick Jacob (Author), 2000, Albee, Edward - The Zoo Story, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


  • guest on 10/27/2008


    super hilfreich, aber wo ist der Bezug zum Thema American Dream ? wir haben im unterricht drüber geredet und der bezug ist eigentlich logisch. Peter der seinen A.D lebt und jerry , der den Kriterien dessen nicht entspricht und versagt...

  • guest on 12/10/2007


    Des hesch echt subbba gmacht, respect!

  • guest on 11/16/2004


    well done :-)

  • guest on 11/4/2004

    Genau das was ich gesucht habe! :).

    Vielen Dank für die Zusammenfassung; die einzelnen Unterpunkte sind genau das was ich brauche. Sehr hilfreich um sich zu erinnern oder themenbezogene Hausaufgaben anzufertigen.
    Danke nochmal!

  • guest on 4/12/2003


    ist super von dir!
    hast mir schon mal den anfang einer wohl noch sehr langen suche versüßt!

  • guest on 11/5/2002

    Zoo Story.


  • guest on 1/6/2002

    Danke Jacob.

    du hast uns sehr viel zeit und nerven erspart. wir finden das buch auch sehr gut. für unsere präsentation können wir dein material gut brauchen.
    danke und viele küsse

  • guest on 1/3/2002

    dich hat der himmel geschickt..........


    schreib in ca drei wochen abi und musste nochma alle kurzgeschichten durcharbeiten, so auch the zoo story...die aufzeichnungen von dir haben mich ein gutes stück weitergebracht!


  • guest on 12/10/2001

    meine rettung.

    nach langem suchen hab ich auch endlich was gutes hier gefunden. dafür muss man dir einfach danken!!!
    ich kann mich den anderen eigentlich nur anschliessen!

  • guest on 11/14/2001


    Ich war begeistert, schreibe nämlich morgen ne Klausur, dreistündig und habe das Buch nicht gelesen. Wollte mir es ersparen und der Inhalt ist genau das was wir schreiben sollen!

    DAnke und weiter so

  • guest on 11/13/2001


    Danke, du hast mir viel arbeit gepart

  • guest on 10/23/2001


    Echt gut! Gibt wirklich sonst nichts zum Thema im Netz!

  • guest on 7/2/2001


    supiii, genau das, was ich suche!!!!

  • guest on 5/30/2001


    hallo ich bin izlem bin in der 12´rten klasse. wir sprechen gerade über die zoo story schreibe am 06,06´ten klausur.. wollte fragen ob du auch eine summary hast weil ich kann überhaupt kein englisch.. will spicken muß nämlich eine vier schaffen...

  • guest on 3/28/2001

    Gut gemacht.

    Vielen Dank für die Informationen, denn bei uns kommt The Zoo Story im Abi dran. Da ich auch vergeblich nach Sekundärliteratur gesucht habe, ist es sehr interessant gewesen, das nochmal mit unseren Aufzeichnungen zu vergleichen.

  • guest on 3/1/2001

    Zoo Story.

    hab deine veröffentlichten Schulaufzeichnungen bezüglich der Zoo Story gesehen, sie sind wirklich sehr hilfreich. Ich wollte mal fragen, ob du noch mehr Informationen hast z.B eine Summary. Wäre nett,wenn du mir antwortest,auch wenn du nichts mehr hast. Danke für die Mühe! Stefan

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