Water for Elephants
How we cite our quotes:
I speak first. "Has he ever hit you before?"
"If he does it again, I swear to God I'll kill him."
"If he does it again, you won't have to," she says quietly. (18.203-206)
Marlena may not have stood up for herself in the past, but that all changes here. August has taken it a step too far by laying hands on her, and she has enough courage to defend herself and clarify what is and what's not okay. It's most definitely not okay for August to hit her. It's hard to see anything good in a situation of domestic violence, but the positive takeaway is that both Marlena and Jacob see that it's wrong and will work to prevent it from ever happening again.
"I'm not going to sit here and listen to you tell me that it's okay for August to hit her because she's his wife. Or that it's not his fault because he's insane. If he's insane, that's all the more reason she should stay away." (20.81)
Jacob takes an even stronger stand against domestic violence here, insisting that there's no defending August's abuse. He won't listen to any pitiful excuses Al might try to offer on August's behalf.
He lowers his glass without drinking. I cock my head and keep smiling. Let him examine me. Just let him. Today I am invincible. (21.90)
Jacob gets through this situation on chutzpah alone, pretending everything's fine and that he's not secretly in love with Marlena. He thinks if he pretends hard enough, he'll seem "invincible" and fool everyone, even Uncle Al. Jacob buys in to the circus concept of illusion wholeheartedly here, and it seems to work on Al for a time. But Jacob can only pretend to be "invincible" and unattached to Marlena for so long – rumors are spreading through the circus like wildfire.