Water for Elephants
by Sara Gruen
Men and Masculinity Quotes in Water for Elephants
How we cite our quotes: (Chapter.Paragraph)
"Look here," he says, blowing smoke. "I was hoping we could let bygones be bygones. So what do you say, my boy – friends again?" He extends his hand. (20.102)
Here, August comes to apologize rather insincerely to Jacob. He approaches, smoking, calls Jacob "[his] boy" (which is rather patronizing), and doesn't even fully apologize. Instead he says he wants "bygones [to] be bygones," rather than taking full responsibility for his actions. Perhaps to underscore August's insincerity, Gruen writes that, as he's speaking, he's "blowing smoke," which could suggest that he's saying a whole lot of nothing. Is this just how guys apologize? What gives?
"So, the tomcat returns," says Walter. (21.41)
Walter calls Jacob a "tomcat" because, presumably, he's been out on the prowl with another man's wife. While this is not quite true, what really happened between Jacob and Marlena is secondary to the appearance of what happened.
"Well, naturally August should keep his distance. That would give her a chance to miss him. It might even be beneficial for him to pretend he's no longer interested. Women are funny that way. Also, she mustn't think that we're pushing them back together. It's critical that she think it's her idea." (21.79)
Jacob plays on gender stereotypes to protect Marlena, telling Al that August "should keep his distance" so that Marlena, like a typical woman, will want him back. Really, though, this is an attempt to keep Marlena and August as far apart as possible.