Literary Setting Influences On The Novel Water For Elephants Essay

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Literary Setting Influences on Water for Elephants Sara Gruen’s third novel, Water for Elephants, was set in a second-rate traveling circus during the height of the America’s Great Depression, in 1931. However, Gruen was not born until the mid 1970s and therefore, unlike most authors, her childhood had little influence on her novel. In fact, Gruen admitted that she herself had never visited the circus as a child. Nevertheless, Sara Gruen engaged herself in extensive research, and was able to describe the events of the novel not only accurately, but also in a very simple, yet detailed and colourful manner. Gruen was able to draw influence from not only her research, but from her love for animals, as well as crediting the works The Stone Angel by Margaret Laurence and Sophie’s Choice by William Styron. Together, these influences aided Gruen in the creation of her most successful novel to date, Water for Elephants. Typical of many authors, Gruen was heavily influenced by her greatest interest. Along with her family, Sara Gruen lives with three cats, two dogs, two goats, and a horse, therefore it is no surprise that all three of her novels revolve around the relationship between humans and animals. Her first two novels, Riding Lessons and Flying Changes were both about horseback riding, and her current work in progress, Ape House will be about her love for the bonobo apes. In Water for Elephants, it is evident that Gruen’s love for animals was a heavy influence on the novel and on Jacob’s character as a veterinarian. She put much emphasis on the cruelty of the treatment of the animals in the circus, such as Rosie the elephant being fed a lit cigarette and being beaten severly by August, the circus’ animal trainer. During her research, Gruen was also given a chance to meet and interact with several elephants in captivity at the

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