What occurs between Marlena and Jacob in Water for Elephants?

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wannam eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Water for Elephants, the characters Marlena and Jacob are drawn together.  Marlena is married to August, but it is a bad marriage.  She met him and married him quickly.  By the time she realized who he really was, it was too late.  Her family abandoned her and refused to allow her to return home.  The young girl was forced to live with her violent and temperamental husband in the circus.  When Jacob joins the circus crew, he and Marlena are drawn to one another.  They are similar in age and share much in common.  Jacob is everything August is not.  He is even tempered, kind, and cares deeply for the animals Marlena cherishes.  Events push Marlena and Jacob closer and closer together.  They bond over the death of Marlena's horse and the training of the new bull elephant Rosie.  Eventually, the two give in to their feelings and an affair begins.  Marlena attempts to leave her husband, but both Jacob and Marlena know there is much danger in this decision.  Unaware of the relationship and the real reason for the disturbance between Marlena and August, Uncle Al attempts to enlist Jacob's help in reuniting the couple to save his star performance in the circus.  Jacob must play along because neither he nor Marlena have any money or means of sustaining themselves outside the circus life.  The troubles mount when Marlena discovers she is pregnant with Jacob's child.  The collapse of the circus occurs just in time to save Marlena from August's wrath.  With a little luck and a lot of hard work, Marlena and Jacob end up together.