Study Guide

Water for Elephants Chapter 9

By Sara Gruen

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Chapter 9

  • Back to the past. Jacob is on the circus train. It's three days later and the circus has arrived in Joliet.
  • Everyone is weirded out by the empty, abandoned circus they discover there. It makes them super uncomfortable.
  • Al swings into action mode while August leads Jacob into town to find some food. It seems like everyone's going to be hungry for a while.
  • Marlena meets them and they have breakfast, but the lady is upset and leaves in a huff. Turns out she's upset about how they disposed of Silver Star.
  • To top it off, August is rude to the people at the restaurant.
  • Jacob goes back to the train and watches the sad spectacle of people from the other circus trying to audition for Al. Most of them don't make it.
  • Then Al instructs his men to take whatever they can from the other circus. The law seems to be looking the other way.
  • Jacob is worried about some of the horses not having enough food or water. August is unreasonable about what they're expected to do, and the two of them, along with horse handler Pete, have an argument. Seriously, what's with all the fighting?
  • Finally, the Benzini circus's food arrives, and everyone is relieved. Jacob is glad they can feed the animals some real food.
  • In a really cool moment, Jacob has an amazing encounter with an orangutan – he's actually able to communicate with it.
  • Later, August invites Jacob for a drink and forbids him from checking on the animals from the other circus. This really upsets Jacob, who thinks it's inhumane. August explains that he has to obey, because that's how Benzini does business. If Jacob interferes, he'll get into trouble with Al. Jacob is upset but eventually follows orders, even though he feels terrible about it.
  • That night, they have dinner. A few more people have joined the circus – all big top talent, not behind-the-scenes folk. While they eat, they're surrounded by hungry people from the other circus, who can't have any of their food. Well, that's not very nice.
  • Marlena and August actually have a huge fight (surprise, surprise) because she wants to share her food with them. Finally, she just does it and then leaves in anger. August is too angry to eat after that, and Jacob loses his appetite, too.
  • The next day, Jacob tries to help Kinko by telling him what's wrong with his little dog, Queenie, and how to fix it.
  • It's super hot and Jacob is worried about the animals, both the Benzinis' and the others'. He can't do anything about the others', so he visits the Benzini animals. They're all in bad shape. Then, he realizes that the big cats haven't eaten yet.
  • Jacob heads off to find August and ask him about it. Marlena's there, too, and they're arguing. Wow, this is getting a little too predictable.
  • Then Al arrives with some big news. Instead of the guy with the twin attached to his body, they've scored an elephant of their very own. He thinks Marlena should ride the elephant, which would be a huge hit. The elephant is named Rosie and is fifty-six years old.
  • Other people are there, too, and Al leads everyone in a toast. He couldn't be happier.
  • August, Marlena, and Jacob are dazed. When Al and his train of folk leave, the other three gear themselves up to see what they've gotten into.
  • They go visit the other animals. Jacob is overwhelmed by Rosie: she's huge and beautiful. She waves her trunk at them. This must be an amazing sight.
  • Her former caretaker appears and announces that Rosie is terrible to work with and barely has any training. He uses a torturous tool called a bull hook to make her obey. Then the caretaker departs, leaving them with their new animal. Let the adventure begin.

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