Water for Elephants
by Sara Gruen
Freedom and Confinement Quotes in Water for Elephants
How we cite our quotes: (Chapter.Paragraph)
"I called my parents and asked if I could come home, but they wouldn't even speak to me. It was bad enough that I'd married a Jew, but now I wanted a divorce as well? My father made Mother tell me that in his eyes I had died the day I eloped." (20.162)
Marrying August was supposed to free Marlena from her family, but instead it simply replaced one prison with another. Know the saying "out of the frying pan into the fire"? Marlena got out of one bad situation by getting into a worse one. When she wants to escape the new situation, it's too late to go back. She's truly trapped.
When her hands move to my shirt, I open my eyes. She undoes the buttons slowly, methodically. I watch her, knowing I should stop her. But I can't. I am helpless. (20.172)
In some cases, confinement can be a good thing. Here Jacob's "helpless[ness]" results in physical pleasure. Once again, his moral code or ethical makeup tells him to do one thing and, against his better judgment, he resists.
I weave on my knees trying to figure out who and what and where but now the ground comes screaming toward me. I'm powerless to stop it so I brace myself, but in the end it isn't necessary because the blackness swallows me before it hits. (21.209)
Does this "blackness" sound familiar? Earlier in the book, when the older Jacob is given drugs in the nursing home, he describes the sensation of unconsciousness in a strikingly similar way: "the blackness of sleep is circling my head. It's been there awhile, biding its time and growing closer with each revolution" (1.90). That "blackness" comes back for him here and, just like the first time, Jacob finds that he is "powerless" to protect himself.