The Zoo Story: A Summary


The Zoo Story is an absurd play. It takes place in the Central Park in New York. There are two characters named Peter and Jerry in it. Peter is a middle-aged man. Peter is slightly older than Jerry.

The plot of the play starts with Sunday afternoon. In New York City’s Central Park Peter is reading a book on his favorite bench peacefully.  He is a publishing executive. He wears tweeds and glasses. He smokes.

Suddenly a stranger named Jerry arrives there and tries to engage him into conversation. Without any context he makes an announcement that he had been to the zoo. Peter does not notice. Jerry repeats the same thing. Then Peter responds him politely but Jerry is not satisfied with his response.

Jerry then proceeds to probe deep into Peter’s life. He asks Peter personal questions about his home life. By questioning he teases him. He comes to know that Peter has a wife and two daughters. His household contains two cats and two parakeets. After that he starts telling the story of his own life. Instead of explaining the zoo story Jerry begins to talk about his place of living. He describes his landlady and her dog. He states that his landlady is constantly trying to sleep with him. He then mentions the story of the dog. He reveals his alienation. Peter does not understand why Jerry has told him all of this and tries to leave.

Jerry is unable to communicate. He forces Peter to react. He is intent on claiming the bench for himself. He pokes Peter and tells him to leave the bench. He pushes Peter. He drops him from the bench and insults him. He becomes very aggressive and continues to poke him. He starts punching. He tells him to give up the bench or to fight for it.

Finally, Peter agrees to fight against Jerry for the bench. Jerry pulls out a knife and throws it before Peter. He tells him to pick it up. Peter does so. He picks up the knife in a defensive position. Jerry eventually impales himself on the blade. He becomes seriously injured and falls on the bench. Before dying he thanks Peter. He wipes the knife clean of Peter’s fingerprints and tells him to leave the place. Peter does so. He grabs his book and leaves the stage. Jerry dies on the bench. The play ends.


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