Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

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Chapter 21 Summary

Marlena wakes suddenly and looks at Jacob’s watch; it is noon, and she hurries to get dressed to go back to the circus grounds. Jacob stops her and confesses that he loves her and wants to be with her. She admits that she loves Jacob, but she reminds him that she is still married to August. Jacob tells her they can fix that problem, but Marlena knows this would mean leaving the circus. They agree to make plans to leave in Providence when Jacob is relieved of the burden of caring for Camel. Jacob tells Marlena that Uncle Al wants him to persuade Marlena to go back to August and that he has threatened to redlight Walter and Camel, but Marlena does not believe Uncle Al would redlight anyone. Jacob tells Marlena about men in the past who have been redlighted, and Marlena is upset that she has been so stupid as to believe in Uncle Al.

Jacob and Marlena return separately to the circus. When Jacob goes back to his car, he tells Walter about his meeting with Uncle Al and his plans to leave the circus. Walter is afraid that without Jacob, his future in the circus is doomed. Jacob tells Walter to come with him, but Walter knows that the prospects for a dwarf are limited. Later in the afternoon, Uncle Al calls for Jacob to see if he has been able to persuade Marlena to go back to August. Jacob tells Uncle Al that the best thing would be for August to keep his distance so Marlena feels safe again, and Uncle Al agrees to intervene.

That night at the show, Marlena and August use makeup to hide their bruises. Rosie does not perform, and the townspeople who have seen posters of her all over town are disappointed. For several shows, Rosie simply entertains people in the menagerie, and the circus receives many complaints. Meanwhile, Uncle Al tries to keep his end of the deal, but August will not stay away from Marlena. In...

(The entire section is 516 words.)