Chapter 3 Summary

Jacob wakes as the train comes to a stop. Camel tells Jacob they must get moving before someone sees Jacob and that he will ask Crazy Joe, who is in charge of the horses, if there is work to be done. Meanwhile, the workmen begin to nail posts around the area to lay the lot. Camel gets in touch with Crazy Joe, and Joe agrees to let Jacob help shovel manure from the railcar. As they work, tents are put up quickly. Soon, a blue and orange flag is hoisted over the cookhouse to indicate lunch. Jacob is amazed at the large spread of food—he has not eaten in two days. After filling his plate, Jacob wants to sit at one of the nicely decorated tables; however, Camel tells him that those tables are not for his kind. They go to a set of plain tables and eat with the other workmen—the tables out front are reserved for the performers, whom Camel calls kinkers.

The men have little time to eat. The workers are struggling to put up the sideshow banners when a flock of people arrive, ready for the circus to begin. Another workman named Wade asks Jacob if he wants to see the menagerie—the tent in which all the animals are kept. The two walk over and peer inside. There is a large concession stand in the middle; all around are brightly painted and gilded animal cages containing lions, tigers, panthers, bears, and monkeys. While looking at the animals, Jacob suddenly sees a beautiful woman who reminds him of Catherine. She is standing in front of a row of horses, and she is wearing a pink sequined costume.

Jacob’s thoughts are interrupted by an announcement stating that the big show will start in twenty-five minutes. Before the show, the circus workers try to persuade the customers to visit the sideshows such as the fat lady and the human ostrich. Then a men’s-only sideshow is announced, and many men in the crowd leave their wives behind and pay a quarter to see the show. The women are taken to a more decent sideshow. One of the customers is unhappy with the sideshow and yells into the crowd that he wasted his money. He is quickly thrown out of the circus by two of the workers.

Cecil calls for Jacob and puts him in charge of the “cooch tent”—Jacob is to smack the sides of the tent to keep away men who are trying to peep at the show for free. Inside, the performer, Barbara, does an erotic dance while stripping away her clothing. The men watching are fully aroused, and Jacob cannot help but look. When the show is over, Cecil offers the men a private visit with Barbara for two dollars. Jacob attempts to keep his composure—this is the first time he has ever seen a woman naked.