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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 #1

I'm parked in the hallway with my walker. I've come a long way since my hip fracture, and thank the Lord for that. For a while it looked like I wouldn't walk again – that's how I got talked into coming here in the first place – but every couple of hours I get up and walk a few steps, and with every day I get a little bit farther before feeling the need to turn around. There may be life in the old dog yet. (1.7)

Jacob is confined in a physical shell that can do few of the things his younger body could. His body has trapped and betrayed him: it's keeping him from walking and landed him in a nursing home. Ugh.

Quote #2

I cling to my anger with every ounce of humanity left in my ruined body, but it's no use. It slips away, like a wave from shore. I am pondering this sad fact when I realize the blackness of sleep is circling my head. It's been there awhile, biding its time and growing closer with each revolution. I give up on rage, which at this point has become a formality, and make a mental note to get angry again in the morning. Then I let myself drift, because there's really no fighting it. (1.90)

Again, Jacob's spirit has become imprisoned in his physical body. Here he's a prisoner to the drugs the doctor and nurse have forced on him. Even though he "cling[s] to his anger," his "ruined body" won't help him. He has no choice but to give up and submit to the confinement.

Quote #3

I threatened to cut them [my kids] off without a cent until I remembered they already controlled my money. They didn't remind me – they just let me rail on like an old fool until I remembered of my own accord, and that made me even angrier because if they had any respect for me at all they would have at least made sure I had the facts straight. I felt like a toddler whose tantrum was being allowed to run its course.

As the enormity of my helplessness dawned on me, my position began to slip. (8.47-48)

Jacob is forced stay in the nursing home, and it's partially his own fault. He no longer has anything to hold over his children's heads or to use as leverage against them because he already gave them his main bargaining chip: his money. To add insult to injury, his family doesn't remind him of that fact when he forgets. This makes him "fe[el] like a toddler" rather than a respected father.

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