Zoo Story Essay Research Paper Jerry s

Zoo Story Essay, Research Paper

Jerry s Problems

In Edward Albee s The Zoo Story, Jerry has trouble distinguishing between emotions

of love and anger, because of his unhappy childhood. This is shown repeatedly throughout the

story in both is words and actions. His inability to organize his feelings is what ultimately causes

his own death.

When Jerry tells the story of the dog, he says he first fed the dog hamburgers in order to

gain its trust, and allow him free passage throughout his apartment. When this didn t change his

relationship with the animal, he fed it a poisoned hamburger in an attempt to kill. Later in his

story he tells Peter that I didn t want the dog to die. I didn t, and not just because I d

poisoned him (18). He reaffirms this again in the story when he says I loved the dog now, and

I wanted him to love me (19). At first, he showed the dog love with un-poisoned hamburgers.

Then his emotions changed to hate, and he attempted to kill the dog with a poisoned burger.

And finally, he felt love for the dog again. These types of mood swings are characteristic of

someone with a serious mental disorder. It is not surprising to see Jerry have the same sort of

mood swings toward the end of the play.

Jerry wants to connect with Peter, and relates to him much in the same way as he did

with the dog. At first, Jerry is friendly and benign as he talks with Jerry about his family. Then

Jerry tells the story of the dog, and afterward his emotions change to anger and hate. He

punches Peter in the arm and demands the bench to himself, which astounds Peter. He does

not understand why Jerry is acting in his schizophrenic way, even though it was told to him

through the dog story. Then Jerry pulls out a knife, and ends up falling on it and mortally

wounding himself. After this, he calms down and feels love for Peter, and says I came unto

you, and you have comforted me. Dear Peter (27). His temper finally caught up with Jerry,

and he paid with his life.

The reason for Jerry s emotional problems go back to his childhood. He tells Peter

early in the story that his mother died when he was ten and a half years old, and his father

followed a few weeks later. He moved in with his aunt, and she died a several years later. This

would have a terrible emotional impact on any child, and explains the erratic behavior exhibited

by Jerry. This also affected Jerry s sex life. I never see the pretty little ladies more than once,

he says (12). This is because of his inability to connect with people. He also expresses his

confusion during his speech about the dog; And, was trying to feed the dog an act of love?

And, perhaps, was the dog s attempt to bite me not an act of love? If we can so

misunderstand, well then, why have we invented the word love in the first place? (20). This

excerpt shows Jerry s inability to distinguish between love and hate. He questions whether his

feeding of the dog was showing love. If he doesn t understand the emotions behind his own

actions when dealing with animals, it will be difficult for him to apply them to human interaction.

Jerry has problems connecting to others people, resulting from an unhappy childhood.

Because of his mixed up emotions, he misunderstands the ideas of love and hate. It is this

confusion that ultimately causes his fight with Peter and his own death.


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