Water for Elephants (Ch.1-5) – June 2008

Please feel free to comment on chapters 1-5 at any time.   

I’m not quite there yet, so I’m leaving for now.  I will post my thoughts soon!  Here are a couple points to think about as you read:

1.  Water for Elephants moves between a story about a circus a nd a story about an old man in a nursing home.  How do the chapters about the older Jacob enrich the story about Jacob’s adventure with the circus?  How would the novel be different if Gruen had only written about the younger Jacob, keeping the story linear and never describing Jacob’s life as an old man?

2.  Why does Jacob get so mad about Mr. McGuinty lying about carrying water for elephants?  Do you see any similarities of temperament between the young Jacob and the old Jacob?

(Discussion question source: About.com)

Happy Reading!


4 thoughts on “Water for Elephants (Ch.1-5) – June 2008”

  1. I often look at older people and wonder what they did for a living or what their personalities were like in their youth.

    Meeting the older Jacob first, enriches Jacob’s story because it creates a curiosity about the events in his life that make him the person his is now. You already know Jacob is a veterinarian, but the young Jacob quit school. What events led him back to finish? Questions are already established so you have to continue reading. The story creates substance from the beginning.

    If Gruen had started the book with Jacob as a young man, I think she would have drawn you into the story at a much slower pace. There would not be as many questions holding your interest in the storyline. Gruen, for me, created interest from the start beginning the book the way she did.

    I’m not to Chapter 5 yet. I will continue my comments after I read Ch. 5.

  2. nzdinak said:

    You’re so right! When he leaves so abruptly after his parents die, you wonder what happened between then and where he is as an old man. There is so much space for Gruen to fill. It really was a great way to start the story!

    To add to that thought, the way she starts the story in the Prologue with the murder instantly adds motivation to keep reading…I want to know who died and why and how!

    As far as Jocob’s temper goes, the only thing I have to go on so far is the parallel between his fight with McGuinty in the nursing home and his scuffle with Blackie on the circus train. In both instances he is quick to throw down, and we don’t know if it’s just testosterone or if there is an underlying reason.

    Should be interesting…I’ll be back in a couple more chapters!

  3. nzdinak said:

    Well, I just finished reading chapter five, and the only comment I would like to make is in regards to the way Jacob is treated in the nursing home. I realize there are some places where the elderly are treated as children, but the way the staff treats Jacob is disrespectful and frustrating. I guess just because I know what good long-term care is. He seems to have his wits about him, but maybe Gruen hasn’t let us in on all the details yet. For instance, why does he live in the home to begin with? I’m curious to know how he ended up there.

  4. Good point, Nik. I was thinking the same thing regarding Jacob’s treatment in the nursing home.

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