Water for Elephants (Chapters 6-10)

In the event you are speed readers and find yourselves plowing through the pages, I am opening up comments on chapters 6-10.  I don’t know about you, but I am LOVING THIS BOOK!

Okay, here are a couple things to ponder:

1.  How does the novel’s epigraph, the quote from Dr. Seuss’s Horton Hatches the Egg, apply to the novel?  What are the roles and importance of faithfulness and loyalty in Water for Elephants?  In what ways does Gruen contrast the antagonisms and cruelties of circus life with the equally impressive loyalties and instances of caring?

2.  There is an “us and them” mentality in the circus between performers and workers.  How does Jacob bridge these two classes of people?  Why does each group hate another group?  Does the circus merely mirror society in an exaggerated way?

(Discussion questions from the publisher)


You do not have to answer these questions only for the specified chapters.  Actually, you don’t have to answer them at all!  They’re merely to get the discussion flowing.  For instance, if after you read the question, and an example from Chapter Two comes to mind, you can still comment on it in the “Chapters 6-10” page.  We’re not crazy formal around here.  In fact, much of the time when I am on this site, I’m not even wearing my bra!


2 thoughts on “Water for Elephants (Chapters 6-10)”

  1. nzdinak said:

    1. “An elephant’s faithful, one hundred percent!”
    I think this quote from Dr. Seuss definitely applies to the novel in that faithfulness and loyalty are the two things that keep the peace between everyone on the circus. The animals are faithful and loyal by performing every night, the performers are faithful and loyal by doing the same. The workers and faithful and loyal by doing everything behind the scenes. The question arises when you think about WHY everyone is faithful and loyal. Would these attributes disappear if circumstances were different? Would the animals stop working if they were no longer fed? Would the workers stop working if there was a better job to go to? Would the performers cease performing if they were offered more pay or a position with a bigger show? Faithfulness and loyaly with Gruen’s characters, I think, is dependent purely on circumstance and not on personal values. Jacob may be an exception to this, but I want to refrain from committing to this until I’ve read more.
    Gruen contrasts the antagonisms and cruelties of circus life with instances of caring in several scenes, but the one that stands out to me most is when Jacob has to put down Silver Star. It is emotional and heartbreaking for Marlena, and Jacob is careful to do things as gently and painlessly as possible. And then, in the very last sentences of the chapter, she sandwiches morality and reality between the euthanization of a horse and feeding its corpse to the wild cats.

  2. I think these people are loyal to each other because of the circumstances that they find themselves in. They are all loyal to each other because none of them have anywhere to go. I can see things happening between Marlena and Jacob with the animals, they seem to be kindred spirits and it is working up to that. The last part of the chapter when he put the horse down was sad, but then the line about feeding the cats, gave me chills to think about it.

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