Study Guide

Water for Elephants Chapter 3

By Sara Gruen

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Chapter 3

  • Jacob gets up the next day, still on the train, and Camel takes him to meet some guy named Crazy Joe. We wonder what this guy might be like. We'll take a wild stab at it and say crazy.
  • Once they're off the train, Camel and Jacob go through a big field where a bunch of people are working and majestic horses are passing through. They interact with a guy named Will, who doesn't seem to think Jacob has much of a chance of getting hired – or sticking around if he does. Thanks for the vote of confidence, dude.
  • Jacob is in awe as he sees men and horses working to bring the circus and big top stage to life. Everything is busy and exciting.
  • Joe takes one look at Jacob and hires him without saying anything (that's Crazy Joe for you). His first task is to empty out horse poop from a train car with a guy named Charlie. Hey, a job's a job.
  • They stop for lunch and head over to the main food station. At this point, more of the circus grounds are set up. Jacob realizes he's starving, so he eats and eats. Yum, circus food!
  • When he tries to pay for his meal (with a pass issued by Camel), he gets in trouble for not knowing where he belongs. Tough first day.
  • Camel takes care of it, though, when a guy named Ezra gives him a hard time.
  • Jacob still has a lot to learn about circus protocol, and he looks really out of place. He's curious about the circus artists, who Camel calls "kinkers," and who haven't shown up yet.
  • Then Camel gives Jacob a new assignment for the afternoon. He's going to work with Cecil, the announcer, and help get the audience into the tent. Sounds better than scooping up poop. So Jacob ends up working the sideshow.
  • The air is full of food smells (yum), and all the exotic animals are just out of reach in the menagerie.
  • The circus still isn't quite ready for the audience. While they're waiting, a guy named Wade tells Jacob to take a look at all the animals.
  • The menagerie (where the animals hang out) is huge and full of all kinds of exotic creatures.
  • But forget about the animals: Jacob sees a beautiful girl in costume and is instantly smitten. They have a moment of meaningful eye contact. (You know what that means…)
  • Then Jacob has to get back to work.
  • Jacob listens in amazement as Cecil springs into action, announcing all of the Big Top's treasures, like Lucinda the fat lady. Cecil explains that there's a men's only sideshow – the implication is it's very sexy. Ooh la la. And weird.
  • The audience disperses to watch the various entertainments. Some of them are pretty cheesy.
  • One customer gets mad and attacks Cecil, and Jacob rushes in and helps defend him. Already coming to the rescue, eh?
  • The excitement dies down, but all of this has made Cecil think pretty highly of Jacob. His position at the circus is now more secure. Score.
  • That night, Jacob finds himself guarding one of the sideshow acts: the naughty lady. Um…
  • He's supposed to maintain order in the audience while the lady, Barbara, does a sultry striptease. (Earmuffs for the little ones here). Miss Barbara bumps and grinds, and the audience gets excited. Jacob has the job of trying to keep everyone from getting too riled up. Good luck, Jacob.
  • The act ends when Barbara exposes her breasts and touches herself, to the audience's great appreciation. Yikes.
  • After the act, Cecil announces that Barbara is willing to have sex with a few of the audience members for the right price. (He says it more delicately than that, but we're giving it to you straight.) This is not Shmoop's kind of fun. Or the law's, for that matter.
  • Jacob, the virgin, is blown away by what he saw.

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