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Two descriptions of the stampede...

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Sawsee2 After reading this great book, I went back and re-read the stampede first described in the beginning of the book. I then compared it to the stampede as described in the end of the book. There are differences and I now think that Marlene killed August, not Rosie.

Any supporters out there?


Shannon While I think the idea of an elephant killing a human is outlandish, I remember reading that elephants are deemed to be as intelligent as dolphins. And if I remember correctly, elephants are also considered to have distinct problem solving abilities. I cringed when August would lay a hand on Rosie, a helpless animal tied to the chain; and therefore, my imagination let me believe that after all of the abuse, Rosie killed him.

But...knowing that Marlene suffered by the hands of August like Rosie...and realizing that she wanted a better life for herself with Jacob and the baby...it is easy to be persuaded into thinking that she did it.

And maybe that is why Jacob hid the disembodiment away from her so she didn't have to come face-to-face with her actions.




Elvia Nope. Not at all. The book says Rosie.


message 4: by Skylar (last edited Feb 08, 2008 09:04AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Skylar Burris The opening scene is intentionally written so that you THINK it is Marlena, so that you are inspired to read the whole book to find out why this woman killed this man, but, when the scene is retold at the end, it become quite clear that the "she" is the elephant and NOT the woman, and that you, the reader, were tricked into thinking it was the woman at the start by the omission of details and the vague reference to "she". A bit of a dissapointment, really. But there's no question it was Rosie--it says she did, she picked up the spike, and he never told Marlena so her attitude wouldn't harden toward Rosie and so Rosie wouldn't be put down. It's pretty clear. I'm not sure how you can read that any other way.


Colin Lane plus rosie was the one who enjoyed watermelons, "she lifted the stake high in the air and brought it down, splitting his head like a watermelon"


Tony The elephant killed the jerk. In the edition of the book I read, Gruen says that elephants were forgiven a couple of killings, as long as it wasn't rubes. During the depression, the lives of circus workers weren't worth much, certainly not enough to shut down a big draw like a performing pachyderm. From that, I think it's pretty clear the it was the elephant, in the circus tent, with the big spike. It's elementary, my dear Watson.


Dee Dee  Carter Yep, I have to agree that it was definitely Rosie. It was an amazing plot twist, because the entire time I'm reading the book, in the back of my mind I'm placing Marlena as the eventually killer-scrutinizing her every move and motivation "assuming" that she kills August.


Heather It was also clever that the pink sequins were referenced, also leading me to think of Marlena -- but Rosie had them, too.


B.J. Alexander I had the exact opposite experience. The first time I read the book, I gulped it down and didn't take the time to really read the last bits. I read it fast and was more interested in supporting my notion of Marlena as the killer. Second time through it was different. I knew what was coming so I slowed down and read it word-for-word. The spike is the give-away.

Truly, it never mattered who did it. Anyone performing that action would be a hero in my book. When I finally figured out it was Rosie, it made her even more special. I love elephants, and even fictional ones steal my heart. Rosie was no exception.


Marilyn Oh, no. Now I guess I have to read it again too!


message 11: by Kara (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kara in the beginning scene the author leads you to believe Marlena killed him - but no doubt in my mind that Rosie did it - which was a great twist. what an intriguing heroine!


message 12: by Lisa (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lisa Muniz Here is more food for thought (although I do believe Rosie is the killer), there is a conversation with Rosemary and old Jacob where she tells him that elderly people may picture something in their minds enough that they truely believe it happened. It is in reference to Jacob's "friend" stating he carried water for the elepahnts. Maybe, just maybe, he would rather picture events this way then to believe his wife/ mother of his children is a killer.


Amanda The elephant did it in the tent with the spike.


Linda Visser Exactly right Skylar..it was Rosie and you described it perfectly


Becky It was definatly Rosie, especially when you watch him save Rosie from the other circus, and how he hides what she did from Marlane! I did learn not to read these comment threads as I'm reading the book, I to was waiting for it to be Marlane, but when I saw this conversation thread my vision changed even though I hadn't actually reached that part of the book (I was only a dozen or so pages to the final description of the stampede and the end!)

Lesson learned!


message 16: by Maura (last edited Feb 25, 2009 03:44AM) (new)

Maura If you likes Water for elephants try
The Final Confession of Mabel Stark: A Novel by Robert Hough
Fiction based on the life of tiger trainer Mabel Stark. Gives plenty of insight to circus life in the 20's and 30's.





Michelle I really like Lisa's comment because I felt that there was a deeper reason to having the older Jacob retell/remember this story than just to add pages to the book. Maybe the author wanted us to question all of the memories that Jacob has. Did he actually get Marlena at the end, was he as brave as he remembered- jumping across tops of trains, was the real jacob more of the villain in this story- the august character and the real "nice guy" was tragically killed in the circus?
All in all, I like to think the story is written/remembered the way it happened (or we as readers are supposed to interpret it as so), but I wonder the purpose of this juxtoposition of young and older versions of Jacob...


Linda Visser I spent most of last summer with my 85 year old mother. She (for the first time ever) had to be hospitalized and then came home only to break her hip. She then spent time in a rehab center which was much like the place the old Jacob lived. I felt that one of the best things about Water For Elephants was the two Jacob's tellings of the story. Old age is so UNFAIR. Having everything taken from you and being stuck in an old ancient body is the worst injustice. The end of Water for Elephants was absolutely wonderful from that perspective. You can't discount that until you have lived it with someone.


Challis my thoughts exactly


message 20: by Lani (new) - rated it 3 stars

Lani Yes, I think that is an interesting point. I knew there was some sort of 'reveal' coming at the end, and really thought it was going to amount to Jacob making some of this stuff up - just like Rosemary ends up explaining to him about his table-partner.

I'm not sure that that is what the author intended though, and I do think she wants us to believe what Jacob says. But there is certainly some room for questioning.


Meaghan I really like your comments Lisa and Michelle because I was actually a little angered by how the author described the killing by the hands of Marlena (she didn't just allude to it and vaguely reference it like some of you said by saying "she", she actually says Marlena held the spike--read it again) and then described almost word-for-word the same scene except with Rosie. I didn't think it was a creative twist because there is a better way to make your readers think something then actually spelling it out one way and then changing it at the end. BUT your points about the older Jacob, Lisa and Michelle, really make sense to me and how in his old age he maybe just sees things a little differently and perhaps more like how he wants to see it...great read!!


message 22: by bup (last edited Jun 25, 2008 08:19AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

bup "All in all, I like to think the story is written/remembered the way it happened (or we as readers are supposed to interpret it as so), but I wonder the purpose of this juxtoposition of young and older versions of Jacob"

That's a great point, Michelle. Rosemary, the nurse, even excuses McGuinty (that bastard) talking about carrying water for elephants based on exactly that (memories aren't perfect), and I think that's why that's in there. We are supposed to question the story we're getting from Jacob now.

Still, interviews with Gruen make me pretty sure the elephant did it.


Miranda Actually, in my version, (maybe they are different??) it does say "she." "she reached for something...she lifted the stake high in the air and brought it down..." Nowhere did it explicitly say Marlena, just she. It made you think it was her, for sure, but it just said "she." So, really, it was just our minds that brought us to the conclusion that Marlena did it. I thought the author did a great job here, and found myself reading the two accounts of the ending events simultaneously, checking for differences. The events are the same, just the clarity of how they occurred is different.

Also, great point about Rosemary's comment. It really makes you think...Though I definitely want to believe the story as it was told; sometimes we need a happy ending.


message 24: by Bree (new) - rated it 4 stars

Bree When I read the book I never thought Marlena killed August. I always thought the Elephant did it. I don't know why I did but it was the whole reason why I continued reading the book. I wanted to know why the elephant killed someone like that.

of course if i had thought it the other way as many have stated I really like the idea that Marlena was really the one who did it and because of Jacob's old age he has convinced himself over the years that it was Rosie who killed August. Easier to live with the fact that an elephant killed someone than the mother of your child.

I read the book because so many people had given it bad reviews. It intrigues me when someone says something is so bad that I must find out for myself and I'm happy that I did. I enjoyed the book alot and found myself loving the circus background.


Helen I too was confused at the end of the book about who killed August and also went back to the beginning to see if I had read it right that Marlene was the one. In retrospect, I think it was Marlene, not Rosie, because Rosie had other opportunities to kill August and didn't.


Linda Visser I am sorry..but I will never understand how any of you can say it wasn't Rosie..it was so clearly Rosie..she replaced her stake..remember? The author made a point of setting up the skill she had of replacing her stake. That's the key..


CuriousSusan D I was a little confused by that as well, thinking I'd misremembered the first description of the stampede. In the end though, I was glad that Rosie killed him. It seemed more fitting of her personality than of Marlene!


Danielle Linda wrote: "I am sorry..but I will never understand how any of you can say it wasn't Rosie..it was so clearly Rosie..she replaced her stake..remember? The author made a point of setting up the skill she had of..."

I agree with you Linda, I think that is exactly why it was made clear that Rosie knew how to replace the stake, even thought I think it is a little ridiculous that it took so long for someone to notice an elephant stealing lemonade..
I don't think Marlene would have been capable of killing any one, not even August.
I had thought it was Marlene but only until the second chapter.


Selin So i went back to the prologue and when it said 'pink sequins' i was convinced it was Marlena cuz thats what she wears. But then i remembered that Rosie has a matching head garment, also in pink sequins. So 'she' can after all be Rosie. But i believe that the author left that up to the reader in the end.


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