Gruen, Sara. Water for Elephants. Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill: Chapel Hill, North Carolina, 2006.
The story follows Jacob Jankowski who was an old man living in a nursing home, as he looks back about a time that defined his life. In the 1930’s, 23-year-old Jacob’s life changed drastically. One minute he was finishing his Veterinarian degree at Cornell and planning to follow his father in the family business. The next his parents passed away in a car wreck, turning his world upside down.
Jacob walked out of his final exams and hopped town, climbing on the first train he could. He quickly found out that it was no ordinary train. It belonged to the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth, a travelling circus. With no financial prospects and no place to go, Jacob landed a job as the show’s veterinarian.
Travelling with the circus had its ups and downs. He had a place to stay, food to eat and animals to look after. But his sleeping quarters were with the horses and a cranky clown, and money was never guaranteed. Jacob’s superior, August, seemed like a nice guy. But his true colors came out when times got tough. And worst of all, Jacob fell in love with the beautiful performer Marlena, who just happened to be August’s wife. Number of Pages: 325
Setting and Time Era of Novel: Story takes place in a traveling circus and is in the 1930’s during the Great Depression.
Name: Jacob Jankowski
Role in the Novel: Jacob is the narrator through the whole story who talks about his life in a circus. Description: In Water for Elephants there are two parts to Jacob Jankowski, one when he is older and the other when he is younger. The older Jacob Jankowski, 90 or 93 years old, relates his experiences with the ‘Benzini Brothers Circus’, back in 1931, to Charlie, a present day Circus manager. The younger Jacob is a 23-year-old young man who must leaves his studies, as a Cornell University veterinary student,...
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