August Rosenbluth: an awefully wonderfull jerk Being a Paragon Schizophrenic, it should come as no surprise, that the character August Rosenbluth in Sara Gruen’s novel “Water for Elephants” is an unpredictably round character. He portrays the full gammut of emotions, moods and character traits throughout the story, making it hard, at least in the beginning for Jacob to know how he feels about him. More than once, August puts Joacobs life in danger.
Wether it is forcing him to feed a toothless Lion as a prank or to walk across the roof of the train August shows very poor judgement when it comes to the safety of Jacob and his other workers. When he needs to, he can be the most generous person in the whole circus, temporariyly fooling Jacob into believing that he good person deep down: “August is gracious, charming and mischevious- so much so that as the evening wears on I begin to think the incident with Rex was just a joke gone awry. “(P. 93) As the story progresses and Jacob learns both first hand and from people like Joe the true nature of Mr.
Rosenbluth, that “he’s a funny one, and [.. ] not funny ha-ha. He doesnt like [any] one questioning his authority. And he has his moments [… ]. “(p. 87). Whether he is clothing, wining and dining his “best friend” or presenting him with a gold pocket watch (p. 233) Jacob, having very different values sees right past August’s fake genourosity. He is an opportunist with very little moral fiber. Ironically, August is the equestrian director but has very little love and respect for animals, much like Al and much to the disgust of Jacob.
For financial reasons he neglects the needs of his animals when the benzini brothers are trying to pick up new acts and he is incredibly rough on Rosie, the “pride” of the Benzini Brothers circus. More than once August takes out is uncontrolable rage on the poor Pachyerm, not understanding that it is an animal away from its habitat and will naturally act out of line from time to time, like when it stole lemonade or ran out of the big top during a performance. These instances largely contribute to why Jacob “[.. ] hate[s] the bastard. ” (p. 71): ” I return to the ring stock car and lie on my bedroll, sickened beyond belief by the thought of what is going on in the menagerie and even more sickened that I’m doing nothing to prevent it. ” (p170). Another reason for Jacob’s ever-growing hate for August is jealousy; August is married to the love of Jacob’s life Marlene and does’nt deserve her. Even the way woed her is evidence of his brutish and manipulating ways. “Before the end of [ther first] date, he had proposed [(to a married woman)]. He was charming and relentless. He refused to budge untile she married him. ” (p. 222).
In the end August ruins his own happiness by bursting into a frenzy with a “purple face and eyes buldging” (p244) caused by jealousy and the suspision of an affair between Marlene and Jacob. Arguably the climax of the book Jacob and August pound each other mercilessly after August hits Marlene. This is the final straw for Jacob and Marlene who, despite knowing how dangerous a situation they have put themselves in, very cautiously begin to see each other and fall madly in love. They manage, with the help of Rosie and a stampede to leave the circus, work for Ringling and have large, happy family.