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Book REVIEW : Shristi Thakur

I recently read THE ZOO STORY by  Edward Albee. At first the play appears a bit boring but as it proceeds it seems as if there is no sense. Altogether the play sounds absurd.  When I tried to understand it from another lens, it appeared meaningful and talked about one of my favourite topics.

The play talks about a world which is void and lacks communication. Communication which is the dire need to get away from this restless life, filled with loneliness and absurdity. In one way or another, we all are a part of the society and yet we are away from it. We don’t know each other and we do not even try. We have become so much preoccupied or I would rather say, so much lost that we find no meaning in anything.

The characters of the play JERRY and PETER are none but us. The play opens in Central Park with these two characters. Peter is the one reading and Jerry wishes for communication. Jerry tries to indulge Peter into the same though he is quite disinterested busy in his own unruly world. He is the one who is quiet and tries hard to get away from Jerry but fails as he has to appear polite.

He answers everything and wants to know nothing. I find Jerry to be someone who thinks, who wishes to escape life and wishes to establish a world having connection in one or the other way. On the other hand, each one of us is a Peter . Peter is the one who ignores the world as much as he can. He has his own world and is content with that and if not then at least tries to be.

We all cage ourselves in a space which nowadays is termed as PERSONAL SPACE. This personal space is something we don’t wish to come out. And if people like Jerry try to come out of it, we don’t support and the result is suicide. Jerry plans his suicide at the hands of Peter, maybe because it’s hard to face death by our own hands. Jerry tries as much as he could to establish a connection at least with somebody or something, at least with the empty frame in his room. But emptiness is always empty.

Jerry is part of the society in which Homosexuality is a crime and he being homosexual has no relation, has dead parents and a world void with emotions which can’t be framed.

Hardly anyone ever tries to talk to a stranger as it sounds crazy and one who does so appears mad. But sometimes it’s not about madness it’s about needs. It’s about the thing that ‘Man is a social animal’.

                  Though many wars have come to an end and many have not happened yet but still, we are at war with each other and we don’t know exactly, since when? There are many who act but hardly any who think and may be one or two who make an effort to lead an understanding life. I recall Ghalib at this point,

न था कुछ तो ख़ुदा था, कुछ न होता तो ख़ुदा होता
डुबोया मुझ को होने ने, न होता मैं तो क्या होता.

                                All in all, this short American play is the true picture of today’s world. It is true for every corner of this world, which is dumb, deaf and blind to each and every happenings of society. A society which is cared about but not cared for. This senseless play speaks sense and every word is impregnated with so much meaning. The words when read echoes, as something never thought of but was always known,

“It’s one of those things a person has to do; sometimes a person has to go a very long distance out of his way to come back a short distance correctly.”

[Shristi Thakur is a poet and an avid reader. She can be contacted at]

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