Water for Elephants Chapter 13 Summary
by Sara Gruen

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Chapter 13 Summary

In the nursing home, Jacob is awakened by the sound of a tray of food being dropped by a skinny nurse. He does not like her because she routinely tries to keep him from walking on his own. He is parked in his wheelchair in the hallway outside his room, and he attempts to get up using his walker. The nurse rushes over to him. She offers to wheel him over to the window; Jacob allows her to help. The nurse looks stunned by Jacob’s compliance and comments that she is surprised because he is normally adamant about walking on his own. He says that he wants to look out the window. The nurse reminds him that normally it is just an empty lot and that it is only special lately because the circus is in town. Jacob says he should be able to go the window at any time to just look at the lot, and the nurse, to Jacob’s surprise, does not argue with him. She walks away. Jacob yells that he wants his walker, but she tells him that she will return for him when he is ready to leave. Jacob begins to have a fit, and Rosemary appears. Rosemary tells the other nurse to honor Jacob’s request, and the nurse appears outraged. Jacob does not even say thank you to Rosemary; instead, he turns to look out the window at the circus tents.

Jacob recalls that in his day, the tents were plain white, not striped like they are now. But some things never change, like the sale of cotton candy, popcorn, and balloons. Also, performers and workers are still on opposite ends of the spectrum. Rosemary returns and asks Jacob if he is ready for lunch; Jacob has not realized that he has passed the morning away looking out the window.

Rosemary attempts to take Jacob to his usual table, but he insists on sitting alone because he does not want to be near McGuinty. Jacob still claims that McGuinty is a liar. Rosemary reminds Jacob that to some elderly people, the truth is no longer apparent. Jacob is not used to the nurses treating him like a normal person. Rosemary asks him to do her the favor of sitting at his usual table. Jacob submits, and he hopes that Rosemary appreciates his good behavior. After lunch, Rosemary asks him if having company was better than sitting alone, and Jacob grudgingly agrees.