The Zoo Story Questions and Answers
by Edward Albee

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What is the meaning of Jerry's going to the zoo in "The Zoo Story" by Edward Albee?

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terifoltz eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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starTop subject is Literature

I believe that Jerry's trip to the zoo was one of those examples of 'having to go a long distance out of the way in order to come back a shorter distance correctly."  What did Jerry say about his trip to the zoo? He said he saw SEPARATION and ISOLATION...between the animals and the people and the animals and other animals.  This is very similar to the metaphoric zoo Jerry lives in every day in his rooming house where everyone is separated from each other and Jerry does not ever break through the "cages" to get to know anyone.  Jerry comes to an epiphany at the zoo.  Man cannot reach to make contact with others.  He decides that he will attempt to disprove his theory with Peter or "die trying."

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timbrady eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2007

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starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

For some reason, which is not clear to me, often when life gets chaotic, it's compared to a zoo; how often have we heard "what a zoo!" in these situations.  My experience of zoos is that they are places of order with all the animals in their cages and paths that take us along the way.  Anyway, I think the zoo in this question is being used in the first sense, to stand for the chaos, class warfare and absurdity of life that Jerry has lived through.  Peter has not been to the zoo.  He has money, status, and is involved in an intellectual activity when Jerry exits the zoo and meets him.  Jerry is not going back to the zoo, although we do not know this as the play begins.  He is finished with it and is going to enlist the aid of Peter in finalizing his exit.

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carolin1787 | Student


Read about "the human zoo" in order to understand the sociological meaning of the metaphor

steak80 | Student

I don't agree. If you read carefully, you'llfind that the bench Peter is sitting on stands fronting 5th ave, near E74th.

The Zoo, as even Jerry reminds us, is more or less on the 65th, therefore he actually has walked north to reach Peter.

These are not my suggestions, it's all in the text.

The action does not take place At the zoo.


awas101 | Student

The truth is this whole story takes place AT the zoo. The key sentence is when Jerry tells Peter that "youll see it on the news" hes refering to the fact that on the news that night there will be a story on how a man(Jerry)was killed at the zoo(by Peter of course)Therefor Jerry knew he was going to be killed, his goal was to get Peter to kill him and he was succesful. If you take note the story setting is a bench at Central Park. In new york there is a zoo within Central Park hense another clue this story takes place at the zoo.


Hope that helped ~Alex