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Water for Elephants

Water for Elephants


by Sara Gruen

Freedom and Confinement Quotes in Water for Elephants

How we cite our quotes: (Chapter.Paragraph)

Quote #4

"I'm going to teach her a lesson," he says without stopping.

"But August!" I shout after him. "Wait! She was good! She came back of her own accord. […]" (12.132-33)

Rosie gets a taste of freedom and actually gives it up to return to the circus. Jacob thinks that it's great that she "came back of her own accord" – that shows her loyalty. She's an animal who's being mistreated; it makes sense that she'd try to run away. But August, the main mistreater, doesn't see things that way. He doesn't care what Rosie's motivation is: all he cares about is "teach[ing] her a lesson."

Quote #5

There's a long pause. She drops her gaze to the ground. Her mouth moves a few times before she finally speaks. "I can't."

"Marlena, for God's sake – "

"I just can't. I'm married. I made my bed, and now I have to lie in it." (17.16-18)

Marlena wants to be with Jacob but doesn't allow herself to – not yet at least. Here she is still abiding by the rules of the loveless marriage to which she is committed. The popular saying, "I made my bed, and now I have to lie in it," takes on a double meaning here, since it implies literal bed that she's forced to share with August.

Quote #6

"Let me go," I plead, jerking my head around first to Grady and then to Bill. "For Christ's sake, let me go! He's nuts! He'll kill her!" I struggle hard enough that I manage to pull them forward a few feet. From inside the tent I hear the crash of broken dishes and then Marlena screams. (18.117)

Sometimes Jacob admits that he can't or shouldn't intervene. Several times in the book he has to force himself to stay away and not help Rosie, Marlena, or whoever else is in trouble. Here, though, he can't stand it anymore. Even though Grady, Bill, and a bunch of other people are there to hold him back, Jacob struggles against them enough to almost make it in and help Marlena. Instead of stopping himself through force of will, he's forced to obey the others, who ultimately outnumber him.

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