Water for Elephants
How we cite our quotes:
I regret saying it instantly. Not that she wasn't spectacular – she was, but that wasn't all I meant and she knew it and now I've made her uncomfortable. I decide to beat a hasty retreat. (18.11)
"Spectacular" is such a circus word. It's in the title of the Benzini Brothers' show, and it's also in that important passage where August explains to Jacob what the Benzini circus is not. (For more on that, check out "Symbols: The Circus," then come back.) Here, surrounded by a circus that is not "spectacular," Jacob emphasizes, "she was." Marlena outshines her setting; she's a star.
In Hartford, a handful of patrons take serious exception to Rosie's non-performance, as well as the continued presence of the Lovely Lucinda sideshow banner despite the unfortunate absence of the Lovely Lucinda. The patches aren't fast enough, and before we know it disgruntled men swarm the ticket wagon demanding refunds. (21.110)
Admiration has its negative side, too. In this case, it's the fact that two desired objects are missing from the circus performance. The audience wants to admire Rosie and "the Lovely Lucinda," and they feel cheated when they are denied the chance. The circus has claimed that the audience will get the chance to admire them, promising more than it can deliver.
In late morning, the Nesci Brothers Circus train pulls up on a siding next to ours. The sheriff and the railroad officials return and greet the general manager as though he were visiting royalty. They stroll the lot together and finish up with hearty handshakes and booming laughter. (23.9)
Sometimes people admire what they don't understand. The "sheriff and railroad officials" see the leftover Benzini circus as a problem. They don't understand it, it's cluttering up their town, and they need a solution. The Nesci Brothers come in and offer one. Because the Nesci "general manager" steps in and offers to solve the problem, the locals are overflowing with gratitude.