The Zoo Story: Props, Costume & Setting

Resource summary

The Zoo Story: Props, Costume & Setting
  1. The Bench
    1. Themes
      1. Social Divisions
        1. Class Systems
        2. Ideas
          1. The class system is an arbitrary concept
            1. Everyone is actually equal - they have just had different opportunities
              1. P: I see no reason why I should give up this bench...there's never anyone sitting here, so I have it all to myself.
                1. unaware
                2. J: I said I want this bench, and I'm going to have it.
                  1. Assertive, powerful
                  2. P: People can't have some of the things they want, they can't have everything
                    1. hypocritical
                      1. ignorant
                        1. ironic
                        2. P: I just came here to read, and now you want me to give up the bench. You're mad.
                          1. never been challenged before
                          2. J: I'm on your precious bench, and you're never going to have it for yourself again.
                            1. J: You have everything, and now you want this bench.
                              1. J: Don't you have any idea...what other people need? P: You don't need this bench.
                                1. J: Fight for that bench/ fight for your manhood/ fight for your self-respect.
                                2. Significance
                                  1. Jerry easily sits and pushes off Peter - threatening Pete's sense of privilege
                                    1. One of the only constants throughout the play, even after all of the dramatic events towards the end: the social division remains despite all the seemingly significant events.
                                      1. Shows Peter's more base emotions, making him seem more human, underneath it all we are all the same.
                                        1. Watching them fight over the meaningless object is like watching to animals (Zoo story)
                                          1. In reality what Jerry is asking for is not much, however the slur to Peter's manhood and implication that the bench is a symbol of their respective manhoods makes it seem like whoever has the bench is the "winner"
                                            1. Jerry is leading up to his suicide/death
                                            2. Perspective
                                              1. Peter
                                                1. Part of his daily routine, a constant
                                                  1. a symbol of his power/manhood ( an idea created by J)
                                                    1. He is entitled to it because it has 'always' been his.
                                                      1. Safety
                                                      2. Jerry
                                                        1. Unattainable goal
                                                          1. Physical representation of everything he'll never have
                                                            1. resentful
                                                              1. A means through which he can prove to himself that he is better than Peter
                                                              2. E. Albee
                                                                1. A barrier between their two worlds
                                                            2. The Knife
                                                              1. Significance
                                                                1. By being the one to commit the murder P fits the stereotype he originally had of J, they are the same
                                                                  1. J found P's weak spot- manhood&power, when he threatened P reacted on instinct
                                                                    1. P's idea of himself and what he stands for is built on ignorance and a lack of self-awarenesss
                                                                      1. Jerry has found peace - he has seen now that he is not the odd one out/ an animal, everyone in all the classes are the same deep down.
                                                                        1. J's last/only victory in life
                                                                        2. Ideas
                                                                          1. Prejudices never show the full picture, pre-concieved notions are usually wrong
                                                                            1. It does not take a lot for a person to show their true nature
                                                                              1. In death everyone is equal - regardless of their material wealth
                                                                              2. Perspective
                                                                                1. Jerry
                                                                                  1. His last victory
                                                                                    1. A test for P
                                                                                      1. Evidence that to some extent he is who P thought he was
                                                                                      2. Peter
                                                                                        1. His stereotype has been confirmed
                                                                                          1. Finally realises how far ridiculous their argument is
                                                                                            1. Loses his veneer/facade in his own perspective - realises he is the same as Jerry
                                                                                            2. E. Albee
                                                                                              1. The link between the two classes
                                                                                                1. A tool to show P's true nature
                                                                                                1. J: You have the knife and we'll be evenly matched
                                                                                                  1. Even now J is still goading P
                                                                                                  2. P: (suddenly awakening to the reality of the situation)
                                                                                                    1. P: You are raving mad! You're going to kill me!
                                                                                                      1. Believes his original judgement has been proven correct
                                                                                                        1. ironic - he kills J
                                                                                                        2. P: (holds with a firm arm...far in front...not to attack, but to defend)
                                                                                                          1. Detached from the reality of what he is actually doing
                                                                                                            1. Whether to attack or defend, he is still holding/still uses the knife
                                                                                                            2. J: (wipes the knife handle clean of fingerprints)
                                                                                                              1. Was only trying to prove a point (?)
                                                                                                                1. Looking out for Peter - cared for him in some respect.
                                                                                                                2. J: You're an animal too
                                                                                                                3. Themes
                                                                                                                  1. Prejudice/ Stereotypes
                                                                                                                    1. Human nature
                                                                                                                  2. Costume
                                                                                                                      1. P: (Rushes to the bench, grabs the book and retreats)
                                                                                                                        1. return to normalcy
                                                                                                                        2. P: His dress and manner would suggest a man younger
                                                                                                                          1. P: He wears tweed, smokes a pipe...horn-rimmed glasses
                                                                                                                            1. J: Not poorly dressed but carelessly
                                                                                                                            2. Signficance
                                                                                                                              1. It is important in indicating straight away to the audience that the two characters are not from the same class.
                                                                                                                                1. Albee highlights how the reader automatically made assumptions about J&P because of their dress.
                                                                                                                                  1. By returning to grab his book P is attempting to return to normalcy, go home looking exactly the same as he did when he left: J left a mental mark but not a physical one.
                                                                                                                                    1. Jerry has his pride - he wouldn't actively want to look messy, but just bad enough that he couldn't be said to care about his appearance or what others thought of him.
                                                                                                                                    2. Perspective
                                                                                                                                      1. E. Albee
                                                                                                                                        1. A way to physically divide the two characters
                                                                                                                                          1. Gives the audience the means (?) to have their own preconceptions and stereotypes about J&P
                                                                                                                                          2. Jerry
                                                                                                                                            1. He decided P was rich, how he decided to target him
                                                                                                                                              1. Aware of the image he portrays - how other people will perceive him.
                                                                                                                                              2. Peter
                                                                                                                                                1. Immediately aware that J isn't the same class
                                                                                                                                              3. Themes
                                                                                                                                                1. Wealth & Class
                                                                                                                                                  1. Stereotypes
                                                                                                                                                    1. Entitlement
                                                                                                                                                    2. Ideas
                                                                                                                                                      1. Jerry knows the effect he has on people and plays up to it
                                                                                                                                                        1. P feels that he has the right to remain ignorant of other people's reality: he is willfully ignorant
                                                                                                                                                          1. P: I don't understand you, or your landlady, or her dog
                                                                                                                                                            1. P: I find it hard to believe that such people as that really are
                                                                                                                                                              1. P: I don't want to hear it!
                                                                                                                                                                1. P: I sit on this bench every Sunday...there's never anyone sitting here
                                                                                                                                                                  1. P: I'll have you arrested.
                                                                                                                                                                  2. Albee wants the audience to reflect
                                                                                                                                                                2. Setting
                                                                                                                                                                  1. Ideas
                                                                                                                                                                    1. The link between absurdity and normalcy, and how easily the two can switch
                                                                                                                                                                      1. Equal ground for P&J it is only within their minds that they are not equal
                                                                                                                                                                      2. Perspective
                                                                                                                                                                        1. Jerry
                                                                                                                                                                          1. A place where he is equal to everyone around him
                                                                                                                                                                          2. Peter
                                                                                                                                                                            1. A place for relaxation and peace that he deserves
                                                                                                                                                                              1. normalcy
                                                                                                                                                                              2. E. Albee
                                                                                                                                                                                1. A plain and calm backdrop to contrast the violence and absurdity of the play
                                                                                                                                                                              3. Significance
                                                                                                                                                                                1. Even though it is a public park P still thinks it's his right to have what he wants.
                                                                                                                                                                                  1. By setting it in a normal park there is an indication that these sorts of struggle of class ( perhaps not to this extreme) happen everyday.
                                                                                                                                                                                    1. The respective perceptions of the setting give an indication of the struggle that must occur - both think they are entitled to something that the other isn't
                                                                                                                                                                                    2. Central Park, New York, on a Sunday afternoon in summer
                                                                                                                                                                                      1. Themes
                                                                                                                                                                                        1. The absurd
                                                                                                                                                                                          1. Class
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