DOI: It can be observed that Jerry creates three interdependent states of mind: a sense of thwarted belongingness, a sense of burdensomeness, and the acquired capacity to commit suicide. These states allowed Jerry to accomplish self-destruction successfully in response to his absurd existence. Key words: Social alienation, the theater of the absurd, the interpersonal-psychological theory of suicidal behavior, the sense of thwarted belongingness, the myth of Sisyphus. A successful suicide demands good organization and a cool head, both of which are usually incompatible with the suicidal state of mind.
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It can be observed that Jerry creates three interdependent states of mind: a sense of thwarted belongingness, a sense of burdensomeness, and the acquired capacity to commit suicide. These states allowed Jerry to accomplish self-destruction successfully in response to his absurd existence. Key words: Social alienation; the theater of the absurd; the interpersonal-psychological theory of suicidal behavior; the sense of thwarted belongingness; the myth of Sisyphus.
A successful suicide demands good organization and a cool head, both of which are usually incompatible with the suicidal state of mind. Susanna Kaysen, Girl, Interrupted. Jerry disturbing Peter in Central Park, New York, has no other purpose than to orchestrate his own death successfully, a paradox that is only implied at the end because it is not an issue that Jerry clearly states from the beginning.
Understanding the reasons why Jerry develops a suicidal behavior and why he finally succeeds requires a cautious examination because, as defined by Jimenez and Cardiel , suicide involves complex and multifactorial manifestations related to personal, psychological, biological, and social concerns. Thus, in literature, characters, like in the case of Jerry, are imagined human beings, mimetic characters, that can be understood as psychologically affected by inner personal conflicts and by the interaction with other characters in the fictional world they appear.
Paris states that characters are not simply functions and messages in a text from the author, but imagined human beings whose thoughts, feelings, and actions reflect our own real personal conflicts. Culler equally affirms that literary works usually represent human beings having identity crisis and struggling within their individual the mind, the psyche, the conscious, the unconscious, and internal thoughts , and between the individual and the group social norms and expectations.
Part of his plan includes the media coverage of this incident; which Jerry mentions again at the end of the play when he is hurt with the knife that Peter holds in his hand. According to the interpersonal-psychological theory of suicidal behavior Joiner, , people are not born with the innate capacity to damage themselves. They rather build up a powerful force to avoid pain, injury, and death. Once they do.
In this sense, the interpersonal-psychological theory of suicidal behavior claims that along this process an individual must develop three specific variables or states of mind to be fearless of committing suicide: a sense of thwarted belongingness, a perception of functioning as a burden to others, and the acquired capability for suicide. The first factor of a suicidal behavior, sense of thwarted belongingness , takes place when a person feels disengaged and alienated from others, causing unbearable circumstances of disillusion and loss.
This factor relates to the need of social relations that may cause a lack of belonging to someone or to a group. In fact, Jerry, understood as a mimetic or imagined character Paris, , is socially alienated from the American capitalistic society in which he lives in terms of family, friends, and social relationships.
In the conversation between Jerry and Peter we first discover that Jerry has always held a sense of thwarted belongingness because he comes from a dysfunctional family.
Since Jerry suffered from parental detachment at an early age, having a promiscuous mother and a noncommittal father as models to follow, he confesses that he has no feelings for his parents, lacking a sense of family ties in the past and in the present. Similarly, Jerry is an unmarried man in his late thirties who has been unable to establish friendly bonds with other people, including women. Therefore, his disconnectedness from other human beings is characterized by intense feelings of unpleasant abandonment, extreme loneliness, and non-affective social encounters, and these isolated conditions are serious factors for his decision to commit suicide.
In this regard, Jerry belongs to no one because he is a dysfunctional person, as his parents were in the past, being incompetent to develop social skills with others. His dysfunctional personality is possibly the result from the communication problems with his family when he was a child. The only occasions Jerry is lucky to speak with other people is when he meets strangers at public places such as at a bar, a park, a zoo, and at the movies just to ask for general information or buy items to please his human basic needs.
We deduce, then, that Jerry, as a mimetic human being, only interchanges just a few sentences with other characters to satisfy immediate needs. However, he lives without having the opportunity to make long-lasting relationships based on trust, friendship, support, and close communication. In this sense, Jerry is a stranger who lives among other isolated strangers that share the same place, New York City, and that hold empty and futile conversations, a pointless experience that gradually increases his understanding of the absurdity of life.
Jerry could be exaggerating or even making it up the entire story about his disgraceful life in the rooming house where he lives, this being one of the ambiguities of the play and one of its absurd elements. However, his stay in that house indicates that he equally undergoes personal alienation because he cannot see himself belonging to any group or community.
The problem is not only that the others reject him or are indifferent with him. The play suggests that he is socially dysfunctional, lacking communication skills to interact normally with close neighbors and, therefore, seeing them as strange and freakish human beings. Therefore, Jerry would never sympathize with them, as it happens with the landlady who apparently likes him and could release part of his pain if he were friendlier and more responsive to human company.
Durkheim explains that the egotistic suicide occurs in a society where individuals undergo an extended sense of not belonging and of not being part of a community on regular basis, because the social system is based on excessive individuation up to the point that the person is not socially integrated to a collectivity social integration.
Indeed, Jerry cannot fit the egotistical and individualistic American society in which he lives because he is a homosexual, a condition that worsens his painful sense of thwarted belongingness.
Oh, wait; for a week and a half when I was fifteen. I was a h-o-m-o-s-e-x-u-a-l. I mean, I was queer Albee, , p. It can be observed in the play that because of his sexual preference, it is complicated for him to find someone to belong to and love. When he hardly ever finds strangers, he can only have occasional and concealed sexual encounters to satisfy in any possible way his emotional, affective, and maybe instinctual basic needs.
Nonetheless, he would never sleep with a woman that does not produce any kind of feelings on him, since he proclaims he is totally gay. Unfortunately, he has not found a stable partner to love, missing out the fundamental social needs of an ordinary person, naming love, sex, friendship, family, and human company. This lonely reality relates once more to the assertion provided by Neal and Collas that the modern man is forced to interact with strangers to share general information, lacking opportunities to create permanent and deep social relationships.
Since Jerry knows that he belongs to no one because he lives in an absurd world of strangers; he is forced to exceed the limits of reason by trying to find desperately an alternative type of friendship with animals and things:. These words suggest that Jerry has not only lost hope to find human company, but part of his human dignity by considering the possibility of making relationships with irrational beings and disgusting inanimate elements such as insects, toilet paper, printed pornography, and human fluids because being lonely without a sense of belonging is a desperate absurd situation.
Jerry recognizes that he does not even belong to the irrational levels of this absurd world despite his desperate attempt to empathize with a dog in replacement for human company. The same situation happens with his disconnection from a powerful superior being.
Jerry affirms that God has forgotten this world and its people for a long time Albee, , p. In this respect, Aouansou asserts that Jerry had decided to put an end to his senseless life because without God there is nothing to fear, but dying alone. If such superior entity as God is not there to give support, there is no one Jerry can count on. Because of this meaningless life and because he has been dehumanized, he starts to develop egotistic suicidal thoughts, this being a reaction that could end his human feeling of absurdity.
In addition, as an imagined human being in this fictional world, Jerry suffers from perceived burdensomeness , the second mental state presented in the model of interpersonal theory of suicide as proposed by Joiner Even though he is completely lonely without, at least, being able to establish any friendship with a dog -this being the most degrading level of social alienation- it is possible to see that he was a burden to people in the past as well as to the strangers he meets in the present in a lesser or greater degree.
Also, he causes her distrust as when she calls him a liar because she suspects that Jerry wants to poison her dog. At a certain extent, Jerry experiences one feature of burdensomeness named liability Van Orden et al. It is assumed that these inconveniences with the landlady at the place where he rents a room increases his already torturous social withdrawal. Similarly, Jerry becomes an abhorrent burden to Peter, the stranger he meets in Central Park.
We observe that Peter goes to Central Park to be alone for a while and enjoy the reading of a book. Why do you just stand there? So far, Jerry seems to be a burden to those he tries to interact with; he is a nuisance and unwanted creature to deal with and he knows it. Camus discusses the outrageous human condition of Sisyphus, a Greek mythological figure, punished by Zeus to eternally and repeatedly roll a heavy rock up the top of a hill only to have it roll down again to start anew.
Camus asserts that Sisyphus holds a meaningless life because he must do the same pointless task of rolling a rock every day without possible change. At a certain point, Jerry embodies a contemporary Sisyphus who equally must roll up his own rock for a lifetime. I therefore conclude that the meaning of life is the most urgent of questions. How to answer it? On all essential problems I mean thereby those that run the risk of leading to death or those that intensify the passion of living. Camus suggests two possible answers to face the human feeling of absurdity: whether hope or suicide, and he points out that suicide should not be the absolute solution to an absurd world.
He explains that the first option, hope, embraces the idea that the human being may continue living as much as possible in a meaningless world while he becomes conscious of trying to reach a definitive answer to why he is attached to a worthless life. Such is the case with Sisyphus; despite he is forced to roll a heavy rock up the top of a hill, Camus sees this tragic hero as a hopeful man doing his hard task every day because he has become aware of this tragic and hopeless reality:.
If this myth is tragic, that is because its hero is conscious. Where would his torture be, indeed, if at every step the hope of succeeding upheld him? The workman of today works every day in his life at the same tasks, and this fate is no less absurd. But it is tragic only at the rare moments when it becomes conscious.
Sisyphus, proletarian of the gods, powerless and rebellious, knows the whole extent of his wretched condition: it is what he thinks of during his descent. The lucidity that was to constitute his torture at the same time crowns his victory. There is no fate that cannot be surmounted by scorn p. Man is able to struggle and cope with the conditions of the meaninglessness of the world through a hopeful and faithful quest for a better life, taking the risk that his attempt for better conditions may fail.
The human being, as Sisyphus, can also endure an absurd world when he is conscious of such reality despite his tired, monotonous, and ineffective life.
It awakens consciousness and provokes … [a] definitive awakening. Camus indicates that Sisyphus, an absurd man, is conscious of his absurd fate and so keeps fighting by doing his useless task happily. Jerry is so destroyed that he is not determined to continue holding a wretched lifetime. In his awakening, Jerry observes that life is meaningless and his option is to commit suicide.
You continue making the gestures commanded by existence for many reasons, the first of which is habit. Dying voluntarily implies that you have recognized, even instinctively, … the absence of any profound reason for living, the insane character of that daily agitation, and the uselessness of suffering.
Camus, , p. However, from another perspective, Jerry becomes fearless for self-injury. His decision to commit suicide does not only rely on his incapacity to fight consciously against adversity and the absurd, but on his increasing courage to trigger his self-destruction, as for dying by suicide the individual needs bravery and sturdy self-determination.
This capability entails the idea that repeated exposure to painful, frustrating, and negative experiences in life will confer a person to develop extraordinary capacities to overcome self-preservation and, therefore, come to be fearless of committing suicide.
Freud believes that the Eros drive , or the life instinct, involves those instinctual feelings and behavior that are essential for preserving life and avoiding pain and suffering, including love, acceptance, and basic needs as eating, drinking, and having shelter. Jerry, for instance, holds a traumatic life that finally forces him to develop the death drive simply because he lost the pleasure to live.
Because of that, he generates self-destructive behaviors through suicide ideation. Therefore, Jerry reaches a level of consciousness that could tell him that absurdity is part of life and that living is not that easy. In consequence, he emerges as a courageous man to face death because he has acquired the capability to commit suicide before he arrives in Central Park. Hence, it is assumed that he has been able to overcome the sense of self-preservation.
Also, as he later clarifies, he wants his death to be reported on the media because part of his suicidal plan is to be recognized publicly, at least, through his death. Committing suicide in his room and in secret would have been as meaningless as the desolated life that he has already undergone so far.
Consequently, when coming to the park, he calls the attention of the first stranger he sees there who happens to be Peter. Once being there, Jerry incites Peter to violence by asking many questions, invading his space, tickling his ribs, insulting him, and taking his bench to get Peter enraged to harm him:.
Jerry: pushes Peter almost, but not quite, off the bench.
Historia del zoo
It can be observed that Jerry creates three interdependent states of mind: a sense of thwarted belongingness, a sense of burdensomeness, and the acquired capacity to commit suicide. These states allowed Jerry to accomplish self-destruction successfully in response to his absurd existence. Key words: Social alienation; the theater of the absurd; the interpersonal-psychological theory of suicidal behavior; the sense of thwarted belongingness; the myth of Sisyphus. A successful suicide demands good organization and a cool head, both of which are usually incompatible with the suicidal state of mind. Susanna Kaysen, Girl, Interrupted. Jerry disturbing Peter in Central Park, New York, has no other purpose than to orchestrate his own death successfully, a paradox that is only implied at the end because it is not an issue that Jerry clearly states from the beginning. Understanding the reasons why Jerry develops a suicidal behavior and why he finally succeeds requires a cautious examination because, as defined by Jimenez and Cardiel , suicide involves complex and multifactorial manifestations related to personal, psychological, biological, and social concerns.
The Zoo Story and Other Plays
His first play, it was written in and completed in just three weeks. Today, professional theatre companies can produce The Zoo Story either as a part of Edward Albee's at Home at the Zoo originally titled Peter and Jerry , or as a standalone play. Its prequel, Homelife , written in , however, can only be produced as a part of Edward Albee's at Home at the Zoo. The play was paired with Krapp's Last Tape. Daniels and Richman performed to rave reviews for more than nine months.