In the novel Water for Elephants, several fictional things are visible. For example, the characters and their conversations are fictional as no one was there to hear them. The story is told by a 20 year old and a 90 year old man. This is a book of fiction and not a memoir, so the man is not real. The circus itself is fiction as well even though during the Depression there were many small circuses traveling the states trying to survive. The name of this particular circus is fiction also. While the book provides a good look at circus life and problems and how hard people had to work to survive, the people and their actions are all created characters. The idea of throwing people off the train in the middle of the night so that they will die before they identify the circus which abandoned them sounds fictional, but could be based on an actual incident as the Depression made people desperate.