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Water for Elephants Quotes

23 of the best book quotes from Water for Elephants
01
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“If they had any respect for me at all they would have at least made sure I had the facts straight. I felt like a toddler whose tantrum was being allowed to run its course. As the enormity of my helplessness dawned on me, my position began to slip.”
Sara Gruen
author
Water for Elephants
book
Jacob Jancowski
character
elders
feeling helpless
abandonment
disrespect
concepts
02
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“I give up on rage, which at this point has become a formality, and make a mental note to get angry again in the morning. Then I let myself drift, because there’s really no fighting it.”
03
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“I cling to my anger with every ounce of humanity left in my ruined body, but it’s no use. It slips away, like a wave from shore. I am pondering this sad fact when I realize the blackness of sleep is circling my head. It’s been there awhile, biding its time and growing closer with each revolution”
04
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“Although there are times I’d give anything to have her back, I’m glad she went first. Losing her was like being cleft down the middle. It was the moment it all ended for me, and I wouldn’t have wanted her to go through that. Being the survivor stinks.”
05
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“My heart pounds so hard that, despite the roaring of the crowd, I am aware of blood whooshing through my ears. I am filled to overflowing, bursting with love.”
06
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“I called my parents and asked if I could come home, but they wouldn’t even speak to me. It was bad enough that I’d married a Jew, but now I wanted a divorce as well? My father made Mother tell me that in his eyes I had died the day I eloped.”
07
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“One of the greatest indignities about being old is that people insist on helping you with things like bathing and going to the washroom. I don’t in fact require help with either, but they’re all so afraid I’m going to slip and break my hip again that I get a chaperone whether I like it or not.”
08
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“I try to brush the hairs flat with my hand and freeze at the sight of my old hand on my old head. I lean close and open my eyes very wide, trying to see beyond the sagging flesh. It’s no good. Even when I look straight into the milky blue eyes, I can’t find myself anymore. When did I stop being me?”
09
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“Last night you said, ‘I need you.’ You never said the word ‘love,’ so I only know how I feel.” I swallow hard, blinking at the part in her hair. “I love you, Marlena. I love you with my heart and soul, and I want to be with you.”
10
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“No. About… Oh hell, don’t you understand? I didn’t even realize I was talking. It’s the beginning of the end. It’s all downhill from here, and I didn’t have very far to go. But I was really hoping to hang on to my brains. I really was.”
11
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“I hate him. I hate him for being so brutal. I hate that I’m beholden to him. I hate that I’m in love with his wife and something damned close to that with the elephant. And most of all, I hate that I’ve let them both down.”
12
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“But it all zipped by. One minute Marlena and I were in it up to our eyeballs, and next thing we knew the kids were borrowing the car and fleeing the coop for college. And now, here I am. In my nineties and alone.”
13
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“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’s 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’re 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.”
14
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“August is not the only one consumed by thoughts of Marlena. I lie on my horse blanket at night wanting her so badly I ache. A part of me wishes she would come to me – but not really, because it’s too dangerous. I also can’t go to her, because she’s sharing a bunk in the virgin car with one of the bally broads.”
15
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“And then I laugh, because it’s so ridiculous and so gorgeous and it’s all I can do to not melt into a fit of giggles. So what if I’m ninety-three? So what if I’m ancient and cranky and my body’s a wreck? If they’re willing to accept me and my guilty conscience, why the hell shouldn’t I run away with the circus?”
16
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“Sometimes, when I’m in bed, I close my eyes and remember the look – and especially the feel – of a woman’s naked body. Usually it’s my wife’s, but not always. I was completely faithful to her. Not once in more than sixty years did I stray, except in my imagination, and I have a feeling she wouldn’t have minded that. She was a woman of extraordinary understanding.”
17
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“She talks of the pain, grief, and horror of the past four years; of learning to cope with being the wife of a man so violent and unpredictable his touch made her skin crawl and of thinking, until quite recently, that she’d finally managed to do that. And then, finally, of how my appearance had forced her to realize she hadn’t learned to cope at all.”
18
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“But there’s nothing to be done about it. All I can do is put in time waiting for the inevitable, observing as the ghosts of my past rattle around my vacuous present. They crash and bang and make themselves at home, mostly because there’s no competition. I’ve stopped fighting them.”
19
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“I scotch to the edge of my seat and reach for my walker. By my estimation, I’m only eighteen feet from freedom. Well, there’s an entire city block to traverse after that, but if I hoof it I bet I can catch the last few acts. […] I may be in my nineties, but who says I’m helpless?”
20
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“Sometimes when you get older – and I’m not talking about you, I’m talking generally, because everyone ages differently – things you think on and wish on start to seem real. And then you believe them, and before you know it they’re a part of your history, and if someone challenges you on them and says they’re not true – why, then you get offended. Because you don’t remember the first part. All you know is that you’ve been called a liar. […]”
21
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“I weave on my knees trying to figure out who and what and where but now the ground comes screaming toward me. I’m powerless to stop it so I brace myself, but in the end it isn’t necessary because the blackness swallows me before it hits.”
22
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“By the time she returns, I have managed to undo three buttons on my other shirt. Not bad for gnarled fingers. I’m rather pleased with myself. Brain and body, both in working order.”
23
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“I’m not going to sit here and listen to you tell me that it’s okay for August to hit her because she’s his wife. Or that it’s not his fault because he’s insane. If he’s insane, that’s all the more reason she should stay away.”

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