Water for Elephants
How we cite our quotes:
[I]t will never happen again. He loves her more than life itself – surely she knows that. He doesn't know what came over him. He'll do anything – anything! – to make it up to her. She is a goddess, a queen, and he is just a miserable puddle of remorse. Can't she see how sorry he is? Is she trying to torture him? Has she no heart? (20.3)
This is Jacob's version of August's apology to Marlena. The apology is full of hyperbolic statements of how much August loves Marlena, full of over-the-top praise, base "remorse," and intense pleading. Yet it all kind of rings hollow. Jacob, Marlena, and everyone listening know how August has treated her. If he really did love her that much, how could he have been so cruel? It's hard to trust anything he says to her.
She talks of the pain, grief, and horror of the past four years; of learning to cope with being the wife of a man so violent and unpredictable his touch made her skin crawl and of thinking, until quite recently, that she'd finally managed to do that. And then, finally, of how my appearance had forced her to realize she hadn't learned to cope at all. (20.181)
It took the appearance of real love for Marlena to realize that there was no love in her life. She didn't know how bad things were until Jacob showed up and helped her understand what real love could be. The discovery of something so good made her understand that she could no longer cope with a situation as bad as her current one with August.
"Last night you said, 'I need you.' You never said the word 'love,' so I only know how I feel." I swallow hard, blinking at the part in her hair. "I love you, Marlena. I love you with my heart and soul, and I want to be with you." (21.10)
It takes a lot of courage to say you love someone, especially if you're the first one. Jacob emphasizes that Marlena has only told him that she "need[s]" him and so he takes a leap of faith to figure out exactly where they stand in their relationship. It's a very modern action for a 1930s guy.