ღ Carol jinx~☆~'s Reviews > Water for Elephants

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
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May 11, 11

Read from May 10 to 11, 2011

I loved this book. I hate cruelty to animals and I feel like Rosie the Elephant got her revenge!When I was a child I went to a circus but had no idea of all the shenanigans, etc. that goes on behind the Big Top. I think this is a very revealing story of a very hard time in America, the depression and hobos and people scrounging for a living.
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Quotes ღ Carol jinx~☆~ Liked

Sara Gruen
“When you are five, you know your age down to the month. Even in your twenties, you know how old you are. I'm twenty-three you say, or maybe twenty-seven. But then in your thirties, something strange starts to happen. It is a mere hiccup at first, an instant of hesitation. How old are you? Oh, I'm--you start confidently, but then you stop. You were going to say thirty-three, but you are not. You're thirty-five. And then you're bothered, because you wonder if this is the beginning of the end. It is, of course, but it's decades before you admit it.”
Sara Gruen, Water for Elephants

Sara Gruen
“With a secret like that, at some point the secret itself becomes irrelevant. The fact that you kept it does not.”
Sara Gruen, Water for Elephants


Reading Progress

05/10/2011 page 222
67.0%

Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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message 1: by Valerie (new)

Valerie If I'd even been considering reading this book, I'm now convinced not to. I don't 'hate cruelty' (which is an oxymoron, because hate ENJOINS cruelty), and I've always been at a loss as to why people accept an unending cycle of wrongs and revenges as remedial of anything.

If we can't find a less violent response to the hardships that life and others impose on us, I very much fear we'll end up like the gingham dog and the calico cat, with nothing left behind for alien archaeologists to examine but our teeth and whiskers.

I'd like to hope that elephants, as intelligent beings, would be able to find a more equitable solution than just another cycle of abuses. There's an episode of the show Kung Fu in which a man asks Caine "If I'm not entitled to revenge, who is?" "Nobody." says Caine, and walks away.


ღ Carol jinx~☆~ Very good observation. Kung Fu was very wise. I remember some of the things he said.
In Water for Elephants, the ringmaster was a paranoid schizophrenic and he abused the elephant. It made me so sad.


message 3: by Valerie (new)

Valerie Until very recently, elephants in captivity were kept in a form of solitary confinement, unable to form families such as they would have used to raise their offspring in the wild. This has resulted in elephants being unable to collectively act in their own interests, and becoming dependent on human understandings which were too often very imperfect.

There are some creatures which can adjust comfortably to a solitary, sedentary existence. Social, nomadic animals can't.

In the case of elephants, this is even more tragic, because they are people. The definition of intelligent life forms is extremely knotty. My own definition varies, but generally I regard any creatures with names, language, and the ability to recognize themselves in mirrors as sapient.

Elephants qualify on all these counts. The treatment of animals in general in zoos, circuses, etc is very bad. In the case of elephants, it's slavery.

Things have improved somewhat lately, but in the nineteenth century and early twentieth century, the plight of captive animals was truly awful (this is one of the main problems I see with Darwin's The Expression of Emotions in Humans And Animals. With no apparent compunction, Darwin reports routine beating of zoo animals).

One of the first captive elephants in the West was shot dead when he 'turned violent'. A necropsy revealed that he'd been suffering from an abcessed tooth. If you've ever had one, you know how painful those can be--it's not surprising he was driven to distraction.

And even with the improved conditions there are still problems. I recall seeing the story of a 'retired' circus elephant. Before she was released to roam (relatively) freely, she was placed in a pen next to the matriarch of the resident elephant group. The idea was to introduce them gradually--first in separate pens, then later to open the doors.

They had to abandon this plan, because the elephants were injuring themselves struggling to get together. It developed that when the younger elephant was a calf, she was adopted by the older elephant--and then one of them was sold away, and they hadn't seen each other for decades.

One would like to hope that this is becoming a thing of the past--but it's a slow passage, alas. And meantime, elephants are still dependent on the individual characters of their 'masters', and of the frankly inadequate protective laws implemented based on research on 'wild' elephants.


ღ Carol jinx~☆~ Very good. I think alot of research went into this book and in to your observation. This poor elephant could only understand Polish and so everyone said she was "dumb as a sack of hammers" when actually she was very intelligent and learned to adapt to her treatment. I love animals and it sounds like you do too. They really need to be protected.


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