Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

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Chapter 5 Summary

The story returns to the present, and Jacob reckons that he has fallen asleep. He wipes his tears and tries to pull himself together because the nurse in pink is back to see him. Jacob cannot get a handle on what day it is or what the nurse’s name is. She greets him and tells him he should be happy because he has lived to see another day and because he is going to the circus tomorrow. The nurse then begins her daily routine of checking Jacob. She sticks a thermometer in his ear, and Jacob feels like a piece of meat. He is resentful of this treatment. He tells her he does not want breakfast. As she continues her routine, Jacob catches sight of her nametag—Rosemary. Jacob is proud he can keep up the appearance of lucidity. Rosemary says that Jacob is “as strong as a horse” and claims that if he keeps up his health, he will live another ten years. Jacob is not thrilled at the prospect.

Rosemary parks Jacob in the hallway, and he asks to face the window so he can see what is going on in the park. Jacob thinks briefly about what it had been like working in the circus during bad weather, but he acknowledges that times have changed and that the equipment now is just not the same. Soon after lunch, Jacob sees the first resident being wheeled up the street by relatives toward the circus. Ten minutes later, many others follow. He then sees McGuinty going with his family, and Jacob thinks McGuinty is likely telling phony elephant stories. Jacob can see a line of white Percherons behind the big top, and he wonders what kind of acts will be used in the show. He thinks about Marlena’s act—there is nothing like it.

At five o’clock, a nurse comes to get Jacob for dinner. She tries to take him to his usual spot, but Jacob throws a tantrum and insists on sitting at a table by himself. He...

(The entire section is 518 words.)