Water for Elephants Chapter 16 Summary
by Sara Gruen

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Chapter 16 Summary

Jacob has been talking out loud without realizing it, and he mistakenly calls Rosemary the nurse “Rosie.” Rosemary reminds him of her proper name, and Jacob is embarrassed because he had not been aware that he was speaking to her. Rosemary says he has been talking to her since they left the lunchroom, but Jacob feels like he has been in the past. He asks if he said anything inappropriate, and Rosemary says he has not. Rosemary tells Jacob he should tell the other residents about the time he spent in the circus, but Jacob still does not want to talk about the circus. Rosemary realizes that Jacob is embarrassed, so she says she is honored to know him and that he is a good man. Jacob is flattered. He then tells Rosemary that he knows this is the beginning of the end for him and that he has been hoping to at least keep his brains throughout his aging. Rosemary says that Jacob is “as sharp as a tack,” yet she asks him if he would like her to speak to Dr. Rashid about his mental state. Jacob nods.

He decides to rest for a while. Jacob admits to himself that he has already noticed himself slipping. The previous week, when his family came to visit, he did not know who they were. He tried to fake it, but he ended up saying something that gave him away. When he looked at the face of “this Isabelle,” he saw a resemblance to his wife and realized that the woman was someone in his family. The others exchanged glances and left, saying that Grandpa needs his rest. Jacob says he knows his children—five in total—but he cannot keep track of his grandchildren and great-grandchildren. There are so many people in his family that he cannot remember all their names. He also thinks it does not help that they take turns coming to visit each week. Once he figures out who they are, they may not come back for months, and this confuses him. But now he cannot even remember what he said to Isabelle to make her upset. Lying in his bed, Jacob closes his eyes and tries to scan his mind, but he just sees a haze, and he says it is like a universe that just gets thinner and thinner.