Study Guide

The Zookeeper's Wife: A War Story The Home

By Diane Ackerman

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The Home

What is your dream home? A beach house on the Mediterranean? A micro-home where your bed folds out into a shower? A bubble on the moon? If you said "in a zoo," then you're either Matt Damon or Jan and Antonina from The Zookeeper's Wife.

When these two crazy kids marry, they move into a zoo and make it a national attraction. But when war strikes, it all homes across the globe are threatened—even homes filled with exotic animals. Jan and Antonina don't close their gates and keep their polar bears to themselves, though; they open their home to refugees, making theirs a home not just for themselves and their animals but for anyone who needs a home during a dangerous time.

Questions About The Home

  1. What forces Antonina and Jan to leave their home? How does this make them feel? Do they ever expect to return home?
  2. How does the war change Jan and Antonina's home over the years—both the house itself and the people welcomed within its walls?
  3. When Antonina is forced to move, how does she find the comforts of home? Who provides for her? How are the people she finds similar to the way she treats her own Guests? How are they different?

Chew on This

A zoo can be a home for displaced animals that cannot survive in the wild. Antonina's villa becomes a home for Jews who would be killed if they remained outside its confines.

During a war, a home is both a physical place and a general feeling of safety. People must be able to find homes on the go—and to find safety and security wherever they can.

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