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What did you think about circuses before you read this book? What do you think about them now? What, specifically, either changed or solidified your opinions?
What do you think of Jacob's decision at the end of the book? Is it a choice you would make if you were in his position? Is he being brave? Silly? Careless?
Should the murderer in Water for Elephants be punished? Why or why not?
In the sections of the book set in the present, when Jacob is in his 90s, he makes a big deal about his age and seems really upset by it. What do you make of his attitude toward aging? At what point in his life did he seem to be the happiest?
Are Jacob and Marlena really in love? How do you know?