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message 1: by Meghan (last edited Feb 25, 2009 03:43AM) (new)

Meghan | 423 comments Mod
Please discuss Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen.


message 2: by Robbie (new)

Robbie Bashore | 141 comments Mod
Did anybody figure out how this was supposed to related to the biblical story (of Jacob, I think)? My copy had discussion questions in the back, and I was surprised to find that this relation was intended to exist. I'm no biblical scholar, and I tend to be a very "concrete" reader, so I appreciate any help here.


message 3: by Sarah (new)

Sarah (songgirl7) | 284 comments Mod
Other than his name being Jacob and working for the circus for 7 years, I didn't see any parallels.


message 4: by Meghan (last edited Jan 22, 2008 08:21AM) (new)

Meghan | 423 comments Mod
I haven't read this book so I can't answer, but is there a ladder involved? Or did he "steal" something from a brother (or rightful owner)? Or did he father many, many children? (I think it's said that Jacob started the Jewish line and his brother Esau started the Arab line and hence the bad blood that still exists today.)

(I think those are the major characteristics of biblical Jacob.)


message 5: by Sarah (last edited Jan 22, 2008 08:55AM) (new)

Sarah (songgirl7) | 284 comments Mod
Well, I guess you could say he "steals" something from August. Can't say what it is in a spoiler-free thread though. I never really related it to Esau's birthright until now. The only ladder, I believe, is the one to get up on top of the train. He fathered a few kids, one named Simon (biblical Jacob had a Simeon)...

Meghan... please tell me you'll read it! It's so good.


message 6: by Arctic (new)

Arctic | 25 comments Just started this last Saturday, so this is great timing. :)


message 7: by Robbie (new)

Robbie Bashore | 141 comments Mod
Sort-of spoiler





Jacob walks in on someone masturbating. Isn't that like when Jacob walked in on his father in the tent? Or was it Esau? Somewhere around the time that Jacob stole Esau's blessing or the other way around.


message 8: by Meghan (new)

Meghan | 423 comments Mod
So I'm finally getting around to reading Entertainment Weekly's Year End Review (of 2007) and in Stephen King's Top 10 Books, this book made it on the list at #6. I thought that was kind of cool.


message 9: by Mandy (new)

Mandy Did anyone else despise August as much as I did? Whilst reading this book I'd wake up angry and mad and all because of this man - a book has never affected me this way before and I put that down to brilliant writing so that I had a very clear picture of what was going on. Even thinking about him now makes me mad.


message 10: by Sarah (new)

Sarah (songgirl7) | 284 comments Mod
Oh yeah, I despised him.


message 11: by Arctic (new)

Arctic | 25 comments Yes, August is a pretty despicable piece of work. can't disagree with you there. He's described as mercurial at one point, but he seems just plain evil to me, and sadistically so at that.


message 12: by Sarah (new)

Sarah (songgirl7) | 284 comments Mod
How far into it are you, Heather?


message 13: by Arctic (new)

Arctic | 25 comments just started Chapter 13. for all i know he could turn out to be a really nice guy i guess.


message 14: by Mandy (new)

Mandy How are you enjoying it, Arctic?


message 15: by Arctic (new)

Arctic | 25 comments I like it. It's very evocative of that time period.


message 16: by Mandy (new)

Mandy Yes, it certainly gives a look into how the circus ran in those days and though it may be a fiction book I wouldn't be surprised that a lot of those things really happened.

Hope you enjoy the rest of it.


message 17: by Arctic (new)

Arctic | 25 comments Thanks. Sounds like you liked it yourself, no?

I read that Gruen did a lot of research on Depression era circuses and incorporated several parts of interviews she did into her book.


message 18: by Robbie (new)

Robbie Bashore | 141 comments Mod
One of the things I loved about the book was the escape. A wonderful portrait of a very different life in a different time and place.


message 19: by Mandy (new)

Mandy Yes, I did enjoy it and also read she did quite a bit of research. I think it's fascinating to read of such a time and place and probably wouldn't have been something I would have looked up myself. The beauty of books, being able to read of many different settings and escaping.


message 20: by Mandy (new)

Mandy Robbie: I asked the same question in another group and this is the answer someone gave -

NOTE: Although this doesn't directly describe the book there could be a SPOILER in the below paragraph. Personally I don't think it gives anything away but just warning.





"The story of Jacob in a nutshell as it applies to this book is that Jacob travels away from his familty and falls in love with a woman named Rachel. Her father, Laban, requires him to work seven years as a shepherd before allowing him to marry her. Then, since the bride is veiled at the wedding, Laban substitutes his older daughter Leah under the auspices that it is not customary for a younger sister to be married before an older one. Jacob then promise to work another seven years so that he can also marry Rachel. Laban doesn’t make him wait the seven years, but he does stay and fulfill the agreement before gathering up his household and taking them away from manipulative Laban. There is a lot of backstory with Jacob's family and Jacob later changes his name to Israel and has a passel of sons from whom the twelve tribes of Israel descend.

I guess the correlation is falling in love and delaying consummation, not so much the bigamy."



message 21: by Arctic (new)

Arctic | 25 comments read this in another group discussion:

"In an interview, Sara Gruen said that she made anagrams of some character last names to match up with the Biblical story.

Catherine HALE, Jacob's girlfriend.
HALE is an anagram for LEAH.

Marlena L'ARCHE.
Her last name is an anagram for RACHEL."


message 22: by Sarah (new)

Sarah (songgirl7) | 284 comments Mod
The sermon at church today was about Jacob, specifically the scene in Genesis 32:22-31 when Jacob wrestles with God.

I can't remember from the book, does Jacob ever walk with a limp or injure his hip?


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Water for Elephants (other topics)

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