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Water for Elephants

Water for Elephants


by Sara Gruen

Suffering Quotes in Water for Elephants

How we cite our quotes: (Chapter.Paragraph)

Quote #4

The buildings are flat and ugly […] But that is nothing compared to the noises and smells coming from the buildings: within minutes the bloody stench and piercing shrieks send me flying back to the goat room to press my nose against the mildewed horse blanket – anything to replace the smell of death. (11.38)

Walking by the slaughterhouses is unbearable for Jacob, with their "noises and smells," "bloody stench and piercing shrieks." He feels as though he can "smell […] death" and it's utterly horrible. But if it's that bad for him, imagine how it is for the animals who are actually trapped inside.

Quote #5

I return to the ring stock car and lie on my bedroll, sickened beyond belief by the thought of what's going on in the menagerie and even more sickened that I'm doing nothing to prevent it. (12.137)

Here Jacob suffers doubly. First he is "sickened" by knowledge: "the thought of what's going on," which is animal abuse. Second, he's "even more sickened that [he's] doing nothing to prevent it." Jacob considers failure to prevent a sin (a sin of omission) even worse than the sin itself.

Quote #6

"He's going to get redlighted otherwise. His friends had to hide him behind a roll of canvas last night."

Walter looks at me in horror. "You have got to be kidding."

"Look, I know you were less than thrilled when I showed up, and I know he's a working man and all, but he's an old man and he's in bad shape and he needs help." (14.240-42)

The only way Jacob thinks he can convince Walter to help save Camel is by painting a graphic picture of what will happen if they don't: the suffering he will endure and, to back it up, the suffering he's already been through. This is a good tactic, since Walter is full of "horror" at what Jacob tells him.

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