Water for Elephants Chapter 23 Summary
by Sara Gruen

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Chapter 23 Summary

After the stampede, the circus workers catch and retrieve all the animals they can, but the bear and most of the cats are missing. A local restaurant calls to say that Leo, one of the lions, is under the kitchen sink with the dishwasher. Uncle Al is also missing, and the circus lot is full of police officers investigating the scene. Word has it that Uncle Al is keeping out of sight to avoid being fined. On the second day following the stampede, many more animals are returned to the menagerie. The local sheriff arrives, claiming that the circus is breaking vagrancy laws. He orders that they move and wants to know who is in charge, but Uncle Al is still missing. The next day, the Nesci Brothers circus train arrives, and the manager meets with the sheriff and railroad officials. Then the Nesci Brothers workmen begin moving Benzini Brothers animals and equipment into their tents and onto their train. Uncle Al still cannot be found. Everyone realizes that all the staff members are now out of work. Jacob tries to think of what he is going to do. He goes into town and calls Dean Wilkins at Cornell University. The dean sounds relieved to hear from Jacob. After Jacob tells him the long story about what he has been doing for the past few months, the dean tells him that he may return to sit his final exams.

When Jacob returns to the circus lot, he sees Rosie standing next to the Nesci Brothers manager, the sheriff, and a railroad official. Jacob runs up to them, but the men do not want to talk to him because he is not in charge of the show. The men want to trade Rosie, but Jacob claims that she belongs to him. Greg is nearby and comes over to support Jacob. They tell the men that the elephant’s name is Gertrude and that she is stupid. When the men try to give her a command, Rosie simply looks at them and swings her trunk. The men leave Rosie to Jacob, and Jacob wonders what he is going...

(The entire section is 539 words.)