Water for Elephants Chapter 22 Summary
by Sara Gruen

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Chapter 22 Summary

Jacob slowly regains consciousness. He feels a cold compress being put on his forehead and hears someone telling him not to move. Jacob does not remember what happened to him, and suddenly he thinks of Marlena and tries to sit up. Walter replaces the compress on Jacob’s head and tells him to rest and keep quiet. Jacob wants to go find Marlena, but Walter tells him there is nothing he can do for her now. Walter admits that if Camel were not there and if Jacob did not have a concussion, he would have never gotten back on the train and would have left the circus for good. The men agree that for the next three days, they will cope as best they can. Jacob tells Walter that Marlena is pregnant, and Walter tells him that is all the more reason why they have to be careful. Walter says Marlena can take care of herself and that Jacob needs to understand their dire situation.

When Camel and Walter fall asleep, Jacob takes Walter’s knife and climbs out of the ring stock car. He creeps across the top of the train until he gets to the performers’ car. He carefully climbs down from the roof, enters the car, and follows the corridor to August’s room. Jacob opens the door and enters, afraid that he will wake August if he shuts the door. He creeps toward the bedroom while holding the knife, imagining how he will attack August. On the bed, August looks peaceful in his sleep, yet Jacob raises the knife above August’s throat. Jacob’s hand shakes, and he ends up just leaving the knife on August’s pillow as a warning.

When Jacob gets back to the ring stock car, the door is open and Walter and Camel are not there. He finds Queenie alone shivering behind a row of trunks. Jacob immediately knows that Walter and Camel have been thrown from the train. He wants to believe that they survived and decides to go back to look for them in the morning when the train stops. Then Jacob realizes that the train went over a trestle, and he thinks that surely no one would throw an old man and a dwarf over a trestle. In the morning, Jacob goes to see Earl and blames him for what has happened to Walter and Camel, but Earl is shocked to hear the news—he was not involved. Earl says that performers never get redlighted, so he suspects the bouncers were really after Jacob.

At mealtime, Jacob and Marlena talk about the events of the night, and both understand they are in grave danger. Marlena wants to return to her room to get money, but Jacob thinks it is too dangerous. When she is late to arrive at...

(The entire section is 724 words.)