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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 #1

Suddenly he's right in front of me again. I blink, wondering what he means. How the hell can I be okay? Then I realize he's asking whether I'm going to cry. (2.24)

The Dean has "ask[ed]" Jacob if he will "be okay," and Jacob understands "okay" to mean something like all right, or normal, or fine. To Jacob, "okay" doesn't mean "whether [he's] going to cry" or not. And yet, that's all the Dean wants to know. Clearly, this guy doesn't understand the pain that Jacob is in.

Quote #2

This morning, I had parents. This morning, they ate breakfast.

I fall to my knees, right there on the back stoop, howling into splayed hands. (2.42-43)

When Jacob's parents die, he experiences suffering and grief like never before in his life. The fact that his parents have been taken from him so swiftly and unexpectedly only makes it worse. In this moment, he realizes that, in just the short span of a day, everything has changed. On the other hand, this terrible accident means Jacob's parents will never have to suffer old age, be sent to a nursing home, or have their offspring abandon them.

Quote #3

"No. I'm afraid there's no chance [the horse will get better] at all."

She lays a hand on his neck, holding it there. "In that case, promise me it will be quick. I don't want him to suffer." (7.128-129)

In order to prevent further suffering for Silver Star, who is irrevocably injured, Marlena and Jacob have to inflict more pain on him, ending his life. The only way Marlena can handle it is if the death is "quick" – she equates a longer death with "suffer[ing]."

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