Water for Elephants Questions and Answers
by Sara Gruen

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Uncle Al surrounds himself with thugs and they will do anything even murder.  What were the circumstances surrounding the murders? Water for Elephants by Susan Gruen

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With the setting of the Great Depression, Gruen writes a narrative that portrays the desperate lives of circus performers and workers who try to survive as best they can.  Because of the economic hardships of the time, they tolerate the cruelties of Alan J. Bunkel, known as Uncle Al, because they have no other place to go for work outside the circus. 

Knowing the workers' desperate situation, Uncle Al exerts his cruelty with impunity.  In Chapter 14, for example, after having purchased the elephant Rosie and her trailer car, Uncle Al is short of payroll money and several men are not paid, including Jacob. ...

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