The zoo story

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THE ZOO STORY Assignment (revised 08-25-14)

Based on your reading of The Zoo Story, answer 5 of the 10 questions listed below. Your responses to each question should be in the form of very short answer essays.

DIRECTIONS – Answer 5 of the following questions and send your answers to by the designated deadline.

Be sure to name the WORD or PDF file as “Your last name – Zoo Story”.

This assignment and the entire script of The Zoo Story is posted on the Scholarblog site and located in the “Play Readings” section.

E-mail this document to me at as a WORD or PDF document anytime before the due date and time. A hard copy print-out of this assignment is not necessary!

  1. What do Jerry’s comments about his family background, and his dead parents in particular, reveal about his character?

  2. What is the significance of the title of this play?  Does the play suggest that human beings are like caged and isolated animals in any way?  Can Peter be said to live in a metaphorical zoo?

  3. Why is Jerry associated with a dog and Peter with a cat?  What similarities or overlapping is there in the animal images associated with both of them?

  4. What mythological and Biblical parallels are suggested by Jerry’s language as he describes his life (and by Peter’s name)?  Several critics have viewed Jerry as a Christ figure, a Christ parody, and a Jeremiah who denounces false gods.  What do you think of these interpretations?

  5. What differences between Jerry and Peter are emphasized by their living conditions, their language, and their methods of telling stories?

  6. What is the significance of the props associated with each character:  Harry’s knife and Peter’s book?

  7. What are the parodies of sexuality associated with Jerry and how do they compare with the sexual and domestic realities of Peter’s life?

  8. Can Jerry and Peter be seen as two sides of the same coin, representing different manifestations of sterility in modern society?

  9. How does the play suggest that animalistic violence lies beneath a thin veneer of civilization in modern society?

  10. What is your reaction to the end of the play?  Does Peter release Jerry from his hell at the end?

The source for these questions is Dr. Tina L. Hanlon, Associate Professor of English, Ferrum College. Please feel free to use the web as necessary to research, but a simple “cut and paste” of your answers is not permissible!

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