In The Zoo Story, what is the meaning of Jerry and the dog?

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chloemink | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Adjunct Educator

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Desperate to communicate with Peter or at least to teach him something about the difficulties of communication, Jerry comes up with "The Story of Jerry and the Dog." It is a long, disgusting, and eventually pathetic tale of his attempt to find some kind of communication, or at least relationship, with the vile landlady's vile dog (the hound who guards the entrance to Jerry's particular hell). Jerry fails to reach the dog, though he goes from trying to kill it with kindness to just plain trying to kill it; the two finally achieve mutual indifference, and Jerry gains free entry to the building without being attacked.

Jerry's story about his landlady's dog could be seen as an allegory for his own inability to relate to others. In the end, Jerry says that he and the dog harbor "sadness, suspicion and indifference" for each other, which is similar to the relationships that Jerry has with other people.


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