Water for Elephants Questions and Answers
by Sara Gruen

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What is the crisis, rising action, and falling action in Water for Elephants? I understand the climax, conflicts, and resolution in Water for Elephants but am having trouble determining the novel's rising action, falling action, and crisis. Can anyone explain it to me?

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linda-allen eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The answer to your question depends on what part of the story you're asking about. Water for Elephants is a novel, not a short story. It is the nature of short stories that their action builds to a point that we call a climax. Everything that happens before the climax is the rising action; that is, all of the events, everything the characters do, builds up to that fateful, climactic moment. Everything that takes place after the climax is called the falling action. We've hit that high point, and now we're coming down from it.

As I said, it is easier to trace rising action, climax, and falling action in a short story, but not so easy in a novel. Each chapter might have its own climax. With this novel, though, you might say that the major moment that might be considered the climax is the chaotic night when all of the animals escape their cages. That is the turning point after which every character's life is never the same. Even though the novel begins with event, the narrator's story has been building up to bring us back to it.

I'm not sure what you mean by crisis. Is that not the same as the climax? Click on the link for a helpful article about the elements of fiction.

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