Jacob is lost.
The most clear reason for Jacob's decision to join the circus is based on his parents death. After living the life they sacrificed everything for him to have, he did not know what to do with his life. Joining the circus was an act of desperation to try something new and maybe even discover part of his identity. His whole life he followed the path his parents had laid out for him, so he took a chance and did something completely out of character. Therefore Jacob ran away to the circus, not to run away but to find himself.
The reason for Jacob running away was mainly because of his parents. Following their death, he had learned that they had taken out a mortgage on their house to pay for his veterinary schooling. He had also learned that if he finished school there would be no family practice to take over. Everything in his life had crashed around him and he decided that finishing school and staying in this world alone wasn't worth it. Jacob didn't intentionally run away to join the circus, he ran away to become free of his burdens.
Jacob decides to run away to the circus because he has nothing else in his life to turn to. His parents dying has a big impact on him. Not only had they taken out a mortgage so that Jacob could go to this Ivy League school, but he also found out that it would be extremely difficult for him to take over his father veterinarian business since he had no money, and instead owed. Not only did his terrible event led to him failing his veterinarian exam because he was still in a state of shock. All he could do was walk out and and keep walking until he was able to somewhat clear his head. He realized that he didn't want to be alone, he had barely any friends, no family, no nothing. It just wasn't worth it for him. In doing this he found the train and last minute decided to hop upon it, where his adventure began.This is what led Jacob to the circus. Not by choice, but upon chance. In hopes of freeing his life and starting fresh where no one would know him.
Jacob runs away to the circus to escape. He is escaping his guilt of his parents paying his tuition, giving everything they had to him. He is escaping a life of following in his fathers footsteps. Jacob wants to be as far away as he can from anything to do with his parents so as to avoid his emotions and his grief.
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