"Our wretched species is so made that those who walk on the well-trodden path always throw stones at those who are showing a new road."
Last week my school's theatre department was presenting two student directed one acts. My roommate happened to be in one of them. The first one act was called "Second chance." It was a play dealing with the elderly and their attitude towards getting older. It was an ok play i guess, with good acting. The second play, however, the play my roommate was in, Edward Albee's "Zoo story" caught my attention. There are only two characters in this play. The first one is Peter, a middle class textbook publisher. He is enjoying a quiet Sunday afternoon at the park. Jerry, a poor and troubled New Yorker barges into the park and interrupts Peter's peace. They fall into a series of conversations about life, sexuality, and love leading to a shocking finale. The play ends with Peter, losing all control, stabbing Jerry leaving him dead on the bench. The play as a whole is dealing with human nature. You have a wealthy publisher, a man that's making 200,00$ a year, somebody who seems to have it all together. In reality Peter is as messed up and broken as Jerry. Their only difference is a wife, two daughters, two cats, and two parakeets.
It seems to me that Albee is striving to communicate that people are like animals. We really do not care much about others. We are selfish and individualistic, and even when we act like we care, we prove over and over that it's all about us. Even after Peter hearing the horrible things Jerry went through, including his abusive landlady and stimulated dog, one would expect that he would value more his own blessings. That doesn't happen. Peter ends up defending his bench. It was like he forgot everything Jerry just told him, about how much bigger problems exist in the world. He just cared about his bench.You can however, argue that Peter wasn't just fighting for his bench. He was fighting for his solitude, his manhood, and his freedom. Because that bench was Peter's only escape from the troubles, and routine of his everyday life. For him, some stranger came to take that away. For Albee- and i think i agree with him on this one- every single person has something in their life willing to take a life to protect. Everybody has a bench. That is exactly what makes us humans identical despite our small differences. I got the impression that Albee goes even deeper in saying that not only we are all the same in our selfishness. Our ability or even willingness to love and care about our neighbor is overshadowed by our selfish needs and wants.
The animals in the zoo seem not to mind the company of others but once one gets in their "cage"- Jerry intruding into the dog's hallway-, they don't like that very much.That's how Albee suggests us humans are. We appear to be ok with others walking outside our cages. When somebody decides to walk in however is where we lose it.
There are many other ideas presented in this one act, I won't get into now. I would encourage you to read this play and think about it. At first, it may seem as confusing and "out there," but i think Albee knew what he was doing when writing this.