Study Guide

Water for Elephants Courage

By Sara Gruen

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You might say that every act in this book is one of courage. It takes courage to join the circus. It takes courage to fall in love. It takes courage to stand up for what you believe in, for what you know to be morally right. It takes courage to commit murder, and it takes courage to walk away from it. What else takes courage? Leaving your husband. Keeping a huge secret. Telling someone he's a liar. Walking out of your home at the age of 93. The list goes on. Water for Elephants teaches us that courage is everywhere, everyday. You just have to be on the lookout.

Questions About Courage

  1. Was it braver to kill August or to refrain from doing so?
  2. At his core, is Uncle Al a coward?
  3. In your opinion, what is the most courageous act in the book and why?
  4. Is it gutsier to run away from home or stay there and face what's coming? Was Jacob's choice at the end of the book a courageous one?

Chew on This

Jacob does a lot of brave things in the book, but his most courageous moment comes at the end, when he decides to rejoin the circus at the ripe-old age of ninety-three.

If Jacob were really courageous, he would have called out August the second he knew something was fishy. He definitely let that situation go on too long.

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