Study Guide

Water for Elephants Chapter 15

By Sara Gruen

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Chapter 15

  • The circus presses on, while Jacob and Walter keep taking care of Camel and trying to keep him safe. Camel's health is quickly deteriorating.
  • One night, Walter feels so bad for Camel that he shares some alcohol with him.
  • Time passes, and every so often the circus stops to give a show before moving on.
  • Jacob misses spending time with Marlena. And to be honest, we miss their romance!
  • Walter tracks down some of Camel's family members. The plan is to get Camel out of the circus, saving his life and putting an end to their careful watch of him.
  • Before that happens, the circus's fat lady, Lucinda, dies. Al turns her funeral into a big production in Terre Haute, where the circus is currently performing. The funeral becomes a hugely successful marketing tactic, and the audience is practically the largest Jacob has ever seen. That's the circus for you.
  • That evening, Jacob is inspired to watch Marlena's performance in the Big Top. He is amazed by her routine, which involves directing ten horses in a beautiful display.
  • Jacob is more into her than ever before. Ooh la la.
  • After the show ends, Jacob pays a secret visit to Marlena's horses.
  • The following day, Jacob has another awkward breakfast with Marlena and August. During their conversation, Jacob reveals that he didn't tell the truth when he first joined the circus: he wasn't originally inspired by Marlena's act.
  • As he comes clean, Jacob becomes really angry and starts yelling at everybody. This is unexpected. And surprisingly, instead of arguing, August thinks it's all hilarious.
  • Time passes, and Al keeps looking for a new fat lady. This gets the circus into trouble in one town and they have to get out rather unexpectedly.
  • Walter can't find his dog, Queenie, so he almost doesn't go with the circus train. Jacob and Camel have to convince him, and Jacob actually has to physically put Walter on the train. After this, Walter seems heartbroken.
  • Walter reveals that his own mother sold him to the circus. He seems miserable. Poor Walter, what a story.
  • Then Camel finds out that Walter and Jacob have made arrangements for him to go back and live with his son. So, yeah, everyone's super upset that night.
  • The next day, Marlena visits their train car, and she has Queenie with her. Yay!
  • She and August found the dog before the train pulled out and August got her in the nick of time. Walter is overjoyed. (But don't worry, Walter is still not a fan of August.)
  • The circus keeps traveling, and the summer weather gets more and more oppressive. At one of their stops, someone steals lemonade from the circus. This upsets everyone, including the workers, who are blamed for it.
  • At another stop, in Columbus, Jacob meets with Marlena and August to talk about a horse. Al comes in, livid, and says that Rosie is the one who's been stealing the lemonade. (We think this is hilarious.)
  • Al is pretty scary when he's mad. He's definitely going to make August and Marlena pay.
  • August, in turn, is furious and goes out to punish Rosie. Marlena tries to stop him and he shoves her. Hard. Not cool at all.
  • Jacob wants to stop him, too, but Marlena says there's no point. She cries, and our knight-in-shining-circus-garb comforts her.

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