Top Ten List

Matt Huppert                                                                                                          Huppert 1 Mr. Hatten

English 10

17 January 2008

Top 10 List

            In the book Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen, There is, like all books, a lot of information to take in.  In this way, it would be quite necessary to know the most important things about the book.  So, in no particular order at all, I have compiled what I believe to be the top ten most important things in the book.

  1. The plotObviously, this is probably the most important part of the book.  The plot consists of Jacob Jankowski, a Cornell student who, after the death of his parents, jumps a train that ends up being a train for the Benzini Bros Most Spectacular Show on Earth circus. once Uncle Al, the owner of the circus, finds out that Jacob was studying to be a veterinarian at Cornell, he becomes the head vet for the animals.   
  2. The Book is told through two different time periods-The story in the book is either told by Jacob during the 1930’s during his circus days or Jacob as a ninety some year old.  It seems that the 1930’s pieces, which take up the majority of the book, are supposed to be the older Jacob’s flashbacks.  For instance, on pages 216 and 217, Jacob can be heard saying stuff about the circus to Rosemary, a worker at his nursing home.
  3. The Setting-The book, because it is told in these two parts, has two major settings.  One would be the nursing home Jacob lives in and the other is a little more difficult to define.  Broadly a 1930’s setting on a circus troupe, the setting changes frequently, due to the traveling they do by train.  They do spend a good amount of time on the train, so that could also be considered one of the settings.
  4. Jacob Jankowski is complex-As the main character of the book, Jacob serves as the outside view of this 1930’s circus, but he is also surprisingly three dimensional.  He is flawed in many ways, and he many times acts on instinct or emotion instead of reason, which gets him into trouble.  This only causes us to like Jacob even more for being so human. 
  5. Marlena is the love interest-A beautiful horse trainer/performer, Marlena is bright, beautiful, and seemingly the perfect match for Jacob.  The problem is that she’s married to Jacob’s boss, August.  For the first half of the book, the reader’s pretty sure Jacob just has a crush on Marlena, but it becomes apparent that she cannot help but be with him.  “I haven’t been able to stop thinking about you . . .” (195).
  6. August is the antagonist-August is probably the most complex character in the book.  At times he is enthusiastic and jolly and other times he becomes angered by just about anything.  This is not the reason he is the antagonist though.   His biggest fault in the book is that he is the one thing keeping Marlena and Jacob apart, something he really can’t help. 
  7. The main conflict: forbidden love-when it becomes obvious that Marlena and Jacob want to be together, Jacob begins to put his emotions over reason.  Eventually, August catches on to this secret love, even though Jacob and Marlena at the time weren’t doing anything sexual.  Probably the biggest climax of the book arises when August fist fights Jacob on pages 246 and 247. 
  8. Jacobs parents die-This one event sets up the entire plot for the book.  Jacob was going to be a veterinarian with his father and have a very normal life, but because his parents died, he is stricken with grief and jumps some random train that ends up being for a circus, where he meets the love of his life.  Without this event, Jacob never even makes it to the circus.
  9. Main Theme: Jealousy-Whenever Jacob talks about August, he is always angered by one thing; His marriage to Marlena.  How could such an awful, pigheaded man be with such a perfect woman?  Jacob yearns, throughout the book, to take Marlena away from August, and when he finds out that they (Jacob and Marlena) are both in love with each other, he only becomes more jealous of what he can’t have.
  10. It’s brilliantly written-Few books have great writing and a great story, like Water for Elephants.  The dialogue is written realistically and the events are given well enough descriptions that you can picture them happening in your mind.  Also, the characters are given certain traits that pertain only to them, which makes it very easy to put a face on the faceless.  Also, it is written with a great amount of suspense and becomes hard to put down. 
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