Friendship and Zebra

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The short story Zebra by Chaim Potok takes place in a school playground and classroom, and follows the story of a boy named Adam Zebrin, also known as Zebra, who loves to run. However, his dreams are crushed when he gets hit by a car and injures his hand and leg. While sitting by a fence during recess, he meets a man named John Wilson, who turns out to be his art teacher. Through their friendship and the art classes, Zebra is able to heal and move on from his accident. The author’s message is that friends can be found in unlikely places, and Zebra’s story shows the importance of having support during tough times. The student connects to Zebra’s story as they also experience moments of sadness but are grateful to have supportive friends.

Table of Content

In the short story “Zebra” by Chaim Potok, the setting is mainly in a school playground and a classroom. The main character is a boy named Adam Zebrin, also known as Zebra. Another character is John Wilson, initially depicted as a man rummaging through garbage but later revealed to be an art teacher. The story revolves around Zebra, a boy with a passion for running, who encounters a difficult situation. An art teacher, whom Zebra meets, assists him in achieving his aspirations.

Zebra, a boy who loves to run, had his dreams of running shattered when he was hit by a car. During recess, he sat by a fence due to his injured hand and noticed a man, John Wilson, rummaging through trash. Curious, Zebra asked for his name. It turned out that John Wilson was the summer art teacher. Encouraged by his peers, Zebra decided to join the art class. Later on, John Wilson praised everyone in the class for their excellent work.

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After sending a letter to Zebra, John Wilson includes a photograph of Zebra’s picture near the Vietnam War veterans’ wall. This gesture deeply touches Zebra and they form a lasting friendship. The author’s message seems to be that unexpected friendships can be established in unexpected places. One such example is Zebra befriending a peculiar man from the streets, who surprisingly turns out to be their art teacher. It is likely that Zebra had never imagined becoming friends with a stranger from the streets before.

But this shows that friends can be found anywhere, at any time, and they can be anyone. The favorite part of the story for me is when Zebra shares the tale of the bird that suffers a broken wing and dies. It resonates with me deeply as it reflects how Zebra feels after his accident – very sad, depressed, and without anyone to turn to or any means to set himself free. I relate to this because sometimes I experience sadness that is difficult for others to comprehend, and at times, even I struggle to understand its cause.

But I am fortunate to have supportive friends, and I am grateful that Zebra had John Wilson as support during his difficult period. Zebra never expected to become friends with John Wilson, but their friendship proved beneficial in coping with their respective losses, despite their differences. Despite being advised by his family and doctor that it would take a long time to recover his hand and leg, Zebra’s condition steadily improved after attending art classes. These classes had a significant positive impact, and he also formed a lifelong friendship.

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Friendship and Zebra. (2018, May 30). Retrieved from

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