Synopsis of A Gorilla in the Guest Room by Gerald Durrell

About The Author Gerald Durrell

Gerald Durrell was an Indian born English novelist, who did a lot in animal conservation through his writings and television presentations. He was a zookeeper who developed an immense liking for the animals in his care and treated them like a member of his family. His stories give us an insight into the setting up of Jersey Zoological Park and wildlife preservation trust, and how he procured and looked after the inmates. His unique insight into the animal kingdom, his sense of humour while depicting the characteristics of animals and humans make his stories interesting and highly readable. The Drunken Forest and My Family and other Animals are two of his famous writings. 'A Gorilla in the Guest Room' is one of the stories in Menagerie Manor about a gorilla who came to his Jersey zoo and lived in the guest room of his house.

Summary of A Gorilla in the Guest Room

Gerald Durrell's long term mission was to establish an area where he would contribute to the conservation of wildlife. He wanted to protect rare and endangered species. At that time, an animal dealer asked whether he wanted a baby gorilla. He was asking for twelve hundred pounds. It was beyond his means but he decided to generate the amount from rich people. With great difficulty, he achieved the impossible and cargo the gorilla to his place. The animal was handsome and healthy and friendly too. The cage was not ready so the animal had to be put inside his guest room. Durrell's wife and mother took an instant liking for the baby gorilla, N'Pongo. Finally, when he left the room it was in shambles, with raspberry juice on the wall, straw in every nook and corner and the handle of the door drooping in a weird manner.
Although N'Pongo behaved with dignity sometimes. With his good manners and sense of humour, the handsome animal became the darling of the zoo. He had many admirers even though; he played pranks with the visitors. Soon it was time for the animal to have a companion, so a female gorilla named Nandy was brought to the zoo. Nandy's eyes were large and lustrous but there was fear in her eyes. This was because she was ill-treated a lot before she came to the zoo. Nandy was kept in a separate cage for 24 hours before she was introduced to N'pongo's cage. Despite the anxiety of the zookeepers, nothing dramatic occurred and soon they became friends. The author also writes about an occasion when N pongo became seriously ill. He was about to die but some miracle happened and he regained his health. The agony of watching him in distress and the ecstasy on seeing him recover is vividly portrayed in the narration.


rhesus monkey - a small South Asian monkey;
conservation - protection or preservation of wildlife:
weed out - to separate out, remove;
exterminated - destroyed completely ;
sternly - in a serious and severe manner;
basilisk - a creature like a snake, which can kill people by looking at them or breathing on them; nonchalant - casual, calm and relaxed;
infested - filled with, present in large numbers;
chortling - laughing gleefully;
avarice - greed;
investigated - examined:
daintily - delicately:
incredible - unbelievable;
hiatus - pause or gap in continuity;
exemplary - worthy to be taken as an example;
inebriated - drunk:
loquacious - talkative, overdramatic;
re-incarcerated - re-imprisoned;
deploring - disapproving:
peevish - irritable;
bewilderment - a feeling of being perplexed and confused;
dotty - eccentric or slightly mad;
feverishly - in a frenetically excited or energetic manner;
stockily - a man is fairly short and has a body that is wide across the shoulders;
lolling - sit, lie, or stand in a lazy, relaxed way;
potentate - a person who possesses great power;
hiatus - a pause or break in continuity in a sequence or activity;
inebriated - intoxicate;
alehouse - an inn or public house spacious and splendid;
darting - moving or running somewhere suddenly or rapidly;
belligerent - hostile and aggressive;
swaggering - walking or behaving in a very confident and arrogant or self-important way;
sauntered - walk in a slow, relaxed manner;
joust - compete closely for superiority;
belabour - attack (someone) physically;
bowels - the part of the alimentary canal below the stomach, the intestine;
apprised - inform or notify;
erudite - having or showing great knowledge or learning:
sepulchral - sad;
exuberance - excitement and cheerfulness;
gaunt - thin;
rotund paunch - pot belly;
scrunchy - making a loud crunching noise when crushed or compressed;
subterfuge - trickery;
quandary - a state of perplexity or uncertainty over what to do in a difficult situation. 
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