Water for Elephants Chapter 15 Summary
by Sara Gruen

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Chapter 15 Summary

Camel now hides behind the trunks on blankets set up by Walter and Jacob. Two days later, Camel’s paralysis worsens and his tremors have gotten so bad he can barely speak. Out of sympathy, Walter brings him a bottle of whiskey to ease his misery. A week passes, yet Marlena remains in her train car. Jacob is worried about her and feels compelled to peek in her window, but his good judgment compels him to do otherwise. As the train moves on to various cities, Walter manages to get Camel to tell him the name of his son and his last known address. At the next stop, Walter gets in touch with Camel’s son, who agrees to claim his father when they reach Providence.

Unexpectedly, the Lovely Lucinda, the circus’s fat lady, drops dead. Uncle Al organizes a farewell spectacle that is supposedly in honor of her death. Lucinda’s body is put into the hippopotamus car and is paraded around town by a team of black horses. Soon a large crowd of people follow the procession. Once back on the circus grounds, Uncle Al claims that Lucinda would want the show to continue. Jacob is in the menagerie during the show when Marlena comes into the tent. She rounds up the team of horses, and they follow her into the big top. Jacob has not yet seen Marlena’s act—he is usually busy attending the animals—but tonight, he cannot resist. The horses obey Marlena’s every command, and she in her pink sequined outfit is marvelous and graceful. During the act, Marlena calls for the lead horse, Midnight, and she commands him onto his hind legs for the length of the ring. He then bows on one knee, while the other horses pirouette. The crowd goes wild as they exit the ring. Jacob realizes that he is bursting with love for Marlena. That night in the ring stock car, Jacob goes in to see the horses, and he considers that they are extensions of Marlena. He now sees the horses in a new light.

The next morning, August and Marlena are at the breakfast table for the first time since her accident. Conversation between Jacob, August, and Marlena is stilted. When Jacob says that he enjoyed finally seeing Marlena’s show, August reminds Jacob that he once said he loved Marlena’s show. Jacob causes a scene, yelling that he lied and claiming that he has only seen the Ringling...

(The entire section is 633 words.)