Study Guide

Water for Elephants Chapter 7

By Sara Gruen

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Chapter 7

  • Jacob goes to August's part of the train for dinner and meets Marlena there. So yes: Marlena is August's wife. Bummer.
  • August isn't there yet when Jacob arrives, so Jacob and Marlena get to have some private time. No one's complaining, especially because Marlena's room is much nicer than Jacob's.
  • They talk about drinking, and then she apologizes on August's behalf for the lion incident. Nice lady.
  • Just then, they're interrupted as August arrives.
  • August and Marlena encourage Jacob to dress up in a formal suit they've prepared for him. They fool around while he gets dressed.
  • Then the three of them have a formal and fancy sit-down dinner. They eat and drink and generally have a great time. (On a train!)
  • August seems like a different person for a while – charming and fun. He talks about his past with Marlena and how they both came to the circus.
  • Things change quickly, when he starts making out with Marlena and falling down drunk. Marlena has to care for him briefly, but then she comes to sit with Jacob.
  • Marlena tries to explain August's temperament but has a hard time. He's a scary and complex guy. Plus, August is Jewish and Jacob is Polish, so there's some potential prejudice going on, too.
  • Jacob and Marlena talk briefly about their cultural backgrounds. Thrilling stuff.
  • Marlena says that both August and Uncle Al are glad Jacob has joined the circus – they really needed a vet. But Jacob doesn't buy it: he still thinks they both dislike him.
  • The next day, Jacob wakes up in August and Marlena's place and kind of has to do a walk of shame back to his own area. He's still wearing his clothes from the night before.
  • Back at his room, Jacob walks in on Kinko masturbating. (No sock on the door, people?) Kinko is furious and embarrassed and forces Jacob out, so Jacob goes to work with a guy named Otis.
  • They're supposed to clean the camels' car. This would be fine, except the camels have been traveling with the meat, which has totally rotted. Jacob's stomach can't handle it and he can't stop throwing up. Otis throws up, too, but is able to pull himself together and get out of the car.
  • After that little adventure, Jacob goes to check on Silver Star. Marlena is there and they agree that the horse isn't going to make it. They're going to have to put him out of his misery.
  • Marlena cries. So do we, a little.
  • Jacob goes to get August and explains that they have to kill the horse. August protests, saying Uncle Al will be pissed, but Jacob tells him there's nothing they can do about it.
  • They part ways, Jacob puts on normal clothes, and then they go get poor Silver Star.
  • First they have to wait while the other horses are led away. August goes to tell Al and be with Marlena.
  • Jacob takes his time, trying to be respectful and considerate, and then he kills the poor horse with one shot.
  • Everyone is devastated as the horse is taken away.
  • August comes back and says he's fixed things with Al. He tells Jacob to take credit for being a vet, and he explains that the circus is full of exaggerations and fakery. What a world.
  • And as if the horse's death weren't enough, August implies that they used Silver Star's body to feed other animals in the menagerie.

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