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Top Ten List

January 18, 2008

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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Week 7 blog

January 16, 2008

Note to Mr. Hatten; I mistakenly split the book up into six parts instead of seven. For this blog, I’ll summarize the book, like you said. Thanks for understanding p.s; this blog was finished Tuesday night, but it probably says Wednesday because I posted it right after midnight. Sorry about that.To me, a good novel is more than just a decent story printed on page. It is gripping, suspenseful, and something that should take the reader deep into his or her imagination, all while being plausible enough for the reader to feel as if the story could be taking place right in front of them. I felt like Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen was this kind of novel, and probably more. The book was extremely hard to put down the whole way through. The story, which somewhat bored me until I began reading the book, was about a college student who at Cornell. He is almost done with his veterinarian degree when his parents die in a car crash. Stricken with grief and left without a home, Jacob runs away and jumps on a quite random train. To Jacob’s Surprise, he landed on the train hauling The Benzini Bros Most Spectacular Show on Earth circus. He is able to find minimal to nothing jobs for a couple days until Uncle Al, the owner of the circus, finds out that he was becoming a veterinarian at Cornell. He soon becomes the official vet of the circus. Jacob’s two best friends on the show are Walter, a dog-training midget, and camel, an elderly worker. The main conflict of the book is obviously that Jacob falls in love with a woman he can’t have, and worse, she loves him back. Marlena, a talented and beautiful horse performer, is married to August, A fight-happy man who is in charge of all the animals on the show and, unfortunately, Jacob’s boss. August’s temper soon flares as he begins to catch on to this secret love connection between Jacob and Marlena and ignites when he learns that his speculation isn’t speculation at all. The only way for this good plot to become magnificent would be a strong dialogue, and Water for Elephants does not disappoint. Told back and forth through the eyes of Jacob from the 1930’s and Jacob now, the dialogue keeps the reader on edge and unable to put down their book. Throughout the entire book, it keeps a Davinchi Code-like style, in which you have to know what’s going to happen next. I would recommend this book to anyone, for it’s able to grab the imagination and not let go until the final words are read.

Water for Elephants, post B, week 6

December 27, 2007

The final section of Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen ended the book quite happily, which was very unexpected.  The whole book was leading up to the final confrontation between August and Jacob.  It was the main conflict throughout the book and supplied some of the greatest parts of suspense.  The author only made this more traumatic when she announces that Marlena becomes pregnant with Jacobs baby just days before they are about to leave the show, on page 284.  This only teased the reader more about how climatic this confrontation was going to be.  It was widely known that August had a temper and was very protective about Marlena, even after he hit her and she was obviously done with their marriage.  So if August found out about the pregnancy, his main goal would be to either Jacob or have him killed.  But instead of putting this duel of rivals in the book, the author ended the greatest conflict in the book pretty easily.  On page 309, August is laughing by Rosie the elephant while the infamous stampede is taking place when suddenly Rosie takes a giant stake out from the  ground, puts it clean through August’s head, and puts it nonchalantly back into the earth, as if nothing were to have just taken place.  Do to the stampede, the police ruled August’s death to be caused by trampling. Only Jacob knew what really happened.  The reason I’m not to angry that the author took the easy way out is simple; she gave me the ending I was hoping for, which made me a lot happier than the alternative. 

Water for Elephants, post A, week 6

December 27, 2007

            In the final section of Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen, I was able to find two vocabulary words; Precedence (314) which means the order to be observed in ceremonies by persons of different ranks, as by diplomatic protocol and forlornly (316) which means lonely or sad.  I also found three examples of figurative language that I found interesting, like this example in the book of personification; “The engine’s whistle blows mournfully, a distant sound that somehow cuts through the insistent buzzing in my ears” (291).  This is an example of a personification because the engine’s whistle, something that is not human, is doing something human-like.  I also found this example of onomatopoeia; “Shh, don’t move” (291).  This is an example of onomatopoeia because “Shh” is supposed to represent the sound that the character is making.  I also found another example of onomatopoeia in the book; “And you should be grateful we do, because what the hell do you think would happen to you if we took off right now? Hmmm?” (293). This is also an example of onomatopoeia because “Hmmm” is supposed to represent the sound that the character makes with his mouth, not an actual word.  I also found this quote in the book that I think is significant; “Mr. Jankowski, I’m going to get you into the show now before there’s nothing left to see, but it would be an honor and a privilege if you would join me for a drink in my trailer after the show.  You’re a living piece of history, and I’d surely love to hear about that collapse firsthand. I’d be happy to see you home afterward” (325).  This quote is significant because it is really one of the first times in a while that Jacob has gotten the respect he deserves from someone other than Rosemary.  An occurring theme in this last part of the book was long lasting  happiness, especially the long lasting happiness that Jacob and Marlena have after they no longer have to conceal their relationship.   

Water for Elephants, post B, week 5

December 24, 2007

In week five of Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen, the reader is exposed to probably the biggest climax of the book so far.  From pages 243 to 247, August confronts Marlena and Jacob, right when they are surprising him with champagne, about his suspicions that they are having an affair.  No matter what Marlena and Jacob try to tell August, he has become so convinced by rage and jealousy that Jacob and Marlena are having an affair that he won’t listen to reason.  He soon becomes aggressive and gets into a brawl with Jacob.  During this part, Jacob and August basically pound each other’s faces into pulpy things until Jacob is dragged away by Earl.  August also becomes quite aggressive with Marlena and gives her a black eye, which becomes the reason that she leaves him.  During this whole part, the reader has to watch as a completely inevitable seen enfolds in front of them.  For the majority of the book, Jacob has been obsessed with Marlena, and despite the warnings of his fellow workers, like Walter, he continues to pursue her and lets lust get the best of him.  Unfortunately for Jacob, it seems he could not have found a worse spouse to do this to, mostly because of August.  The man is known for his streaks of violence and aggression, and yet Jacob looks past all of this in order to try to win the heart of a Girl he knows he can’t have.  We’ll see if this leaves Jacob happy or heartbroken in the final section of the book.

Note to Mr. Hatten-both these blogs we’re written Sunday night, but it might say Monday.  Sorry about that.  Happy Holidays!          

Water for Elephants, post B, week 5

December 24, 2007

In week five of Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen, the reader is exposed to probably the biggest climax of the book so far.  From pages 243 to 247, August confronts Marlena and Jacob, right when they are surprising him with champagne, about his suspicions that they are having an affair.  No matter what Marlena and Jacob try to tell August, he has become so convinced by rage and jealousy that Jacob and Marlena are having an affair that he won’t listen to reason.  He soon becomes aggressive and gets into a brawl with Jacob.  During this part, Jacob and August basically pound each other’s faces into pulpy things until Jacob is dragged away by Earl.  August also becomes quite aggressive with Marlena and gives her a black eye, which becomes the reason that she leaves him.  During this whole part, the reader has to watch as a completely inevitable seen enfolds in front of them.  For the majority of the book, Jacob has been obsessed with Marlena, and despite the warnings of his fellow workers, like Walter, he continues to pursue her and lets lust get the best of him.  Unfortunately for Jacob, it seems he could not have found a worse spouse to do this to, mostly because of August.  The man is known for his streaks of violence and aggression, and yet Jacob looks past all of this in order to try to win the heart of a Girl he knows he can’t have.  We’ll see if this leaves Jacob happy or heartbroken in the final section of the book.

Note to Mr. Hatten-both these blogs we’re written Sunday night, but it might say Monday.  Sorry about that.  Happy Holidays!          

Water for Elephants, post A, week 5

December 24, 2007

In this part of Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen, I was able to find two vocabulary words that stood out to me.  Pachyderm (236) which is an elephant and grimace (241) which means a facial expression, often ugly or contorted, that indicates disapproval or pain.  I was also able to find some figurative language in this part of the book, like this example of a simile; “’Did I catch you at a bad moment?’ he says, looking up at us.  He sounds as though he’s just asked someone to pass the salt” (244).  I know that this is a simile because it is comparing the two unlike sentences of passing the salt and intruding on a couple by using like or as.  I also found this example of a metaphor; “And then the shower of money starts-the sweet, sweet shower of money” (237).  This is an example of a metaphor because it is comparing two unlike things, in this case showers, which are usually put together with water, and money.  I also found this example of a simile; “She straightens her knee slowly, her other leg pointing to the side, toes extended like a ballerina’s” (236).  This is an example of a simile because it uses like or as to compare two unlike things, in this case Marlena, a circus performer, to a ballerina.  I also find a quote that I thought was significant.  After about an hour she falls asleep, sliding down until her head rests on my shoulder.  I remain awake, every fiber of my body aware of her proximity” (253).  This quote is significant because it is really the closest Jacob and Marlena have ever consensually been to each other.  One theme emerging in the book right now is heartbrokenness, especially when Marlena leaves August.             

Water for Elephants, post B, week 4

December 12, 2007

It seemed that in the fourth part of Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen, the author is beginning to emphasize the tension that is building up between August and Jacob.  It is now very much clear to the reader that Jacob is seriously interested in Marlena, through the author’s portrayal of his thought’s, words, and dreams.  If this were a simple, juvenile crush, there would be no problems.  Jacob could go on daydreaming about Marlena while she could pretend to be oblivious to it all.  But it soon becomes clear to the reader that Marlena has great feelings for Jacob as well, as the author shows us on page 195.  Marlena has become greatly confused by what she wants, for she yearns to be the  with kind, understanding Jacob, but she knows that if August were to ever find out, there’s no telling what that brute force might do.  Marlena obviously knows that because of this, she and Jacob she restrain from being seen with each other alone, like when she asks Jacob to leaver her dressing tent after telling him about how she ended up with August on page 222.  So it seems that the relationship and tension between August Jacob is really changing drastically throughout the book.  There are times when the reader is led to believe that August knows everything about his wife and Jacob, Through is anger and rage, but there are other times where August acts as if he and Jacob are the best of friends.  It’ll be interesting to see what happens next.

Water for Elephants, post A, week 4

December 12, 2007

After reading the fourth part of Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen, I was able to find two vocabulary words; inconsolable (p. 207), which means one that can not be comforted, and pirouette (p. 202), which means a whirling about on one foot or on the points of the toes, as in ballet dancing.  I was also able to find a number of examples of figurative language, like this example of a simile; “I turn my head slowly, chin raised like an Egyptian pharaoh, training my gaze on the magenta and white striped big top” (p. 175).  This is an example of a simile because Jacob isn’t really an Egyptian pharaoh, so he’s comparing two unlike things using like or as.  I was able to find another simile in the reading as well; “My brain is like a universe whose gases get thinner and thinner at the edges” (p. 219).  This is a simile because Jacob’s brain isn’t really a universe, he is merely comparing these two unlike things using like or as in order to explain the complexity of his elderly mind.  I was able, once again, to find another simile as well; “I scoop Walter up like a sack of flour and toss him inside” (p. 207).  This is a simile because Walter is not a sack of flour, but Jacob is comparing these two unlike things using like or as in order to explain how he picked up Walter.  In the reading, I was also able to find a quote that I found significant. “’I…I’m not really sure,’ she says. “I hardly know what to think anymore.  I haven’t been able to stop thinking about you.  I know what I’m feeling is wrong, but I just…Well, I guess I just wondered…’” (p. 195).  This quote, which is said by Marlena to Jacob, is significant because it’s the first time Marlena really admits she has an infatuation towards Jacob.  One emerging theme in the book right now is suspense, especially about what is going to happen between August and Jacob, if anything.    

   

Water for Elephants, post B, week 3

December 5, 2007

A letter to Jacob, the protagonist of Water for Elephants

 

Dear Jacob,

            In the part of the book that I have just read, you appear to be getting into a tricky situation.  By now, it is obvious to the reader that you are interested in Marlena.  In any other situation, this would not be a problem, but Marlena’s partner, August, are very much romantically involved.  In the book, august has quite a temper, and it obvious that he’s very protective of Marlena.  The Problem that you now face Jacob is that you are letting your lust for Marlena get the best of you, like when you kissed her in that alleyway behind the club on page 153.  There is a reason that Marlena did not kiss you back, and left you in the alleyway on page 154, and it’s not because she doesn’t have any interest in you.  It’s because she is worried about the consequences that will follow if you both became secretly involved. The Biggest concern she is thing about is what would happen if August ever found out, what he would do to her, and more importantly, what he would do to you. This is basically what Walter was trying to tell you on page 158.  August is known for his temper, and while you’re at least somewhat on his good side, you should do nothing to change that.  My  advise for you is take any idea of you and Marlena being together out of your head before you do something stupid again that could threaten your life.  

                                                                                                Sincerely,

                                                                                                            The Reader