The Zoo Story
Daniel Castellanos THE2000 Ms Janet Roney 12/1/12 The Zoo Story Edward Albee’s “The Zoo Story” is a one act play that shows what alienation and loneliness can drive a man to do. It is a unique story in the sense that you almost feel as though you are reading in on a social experiment. I consider it is an experiment because of how the reactions between the two characters Peter and Jerry lead up to an intense and life affecting climax between the two. The idea of The Zoo Story is about a middle class man with a wife and two daughters named peter who you can say is quite receptive to what life has given him so far.
However, you also have a man named jerry who is just about the opposite. Jerry is unfortunately friendless and not to happy with what life has brought to his plate. One day these two characters have a date with destiny on a New York City park bench. As Peter is minding to himself Jerry comes along and tries to befriend him. The socialization between the two doesn’t go as planned for Jerry. Nevertheless, Jerry walked into that conversation with another plan. It was one that included his own death.
Eventually, it ends up into a confrontation between the two where Jerry is punching thus forcing Peter into defending himself. Jerry then pulls out a knife and tosses it towards Peter forcing his hand. In self defense, Peter picks up the knife and holds it up which then leads to Jerry charging towards the knife and thus murdering himself. Peter reactively says “Oh my God” whereas then with Jerry’s last breath he says “Oh…My… God is a combination of scornful mimicry and supplication”. His last words give you an insight on what this novels idea could be.
After reading, I started to relate to how Aristotle’s theory on Plot matches to “The Zoo Story”. When you think of plot you would consider the arraignment of events such as rising action and climax. Now when you start to stick together the structural plots in this story you would begin with the exposition where Peter is sitting on the park bench and soon then enters Jerry. The rising action would have to be the conversation they both shared leading up until the moment Jerry spits and then punches Peter. Of course, the climax is the scene when Jerry then tosses the knife on the floor and hen forces Peter to choose between leaving or quite possibly killing a man with his own weapon. The falling action is when Jerry runs into the blade consequently killing him. Therefore, leading to the resolution which is the last words Jerry is able to say to Peter after his initial reaction to his death. The idea of characters would mainly consist of the protagonist and the antagonist. In The Zoo Story it puts you in the life of Jerry who, to some, would come off as the antagonist however to me I see him as the protagonist.
It is clear that Jerry is a man who is lonely and desperate to make a friend. It starts with Jerry trying to make an effort to communicate with Peter, yet he doesn’t seem all interested. As each new topic Jerry comes up with is diminished it gives me the feeling that all Jerry is trying to do is socialize with another human being. The theme of a play is usually the reason why the playwright would write the play. The theme we come across in this play is Loneliness.