University of California
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
“The Art of Racing in the Rain” by Garth Stein
The novel, “The Art of Racing in the Rain” by Garth Stein is a tale that takes you on an unforgettable journey through another kind of mind, through the eyes and nose of a dog. The novel features many plot twists, references to natural and supernatural, interesting characters and is set in Whidbey Island, United States. This story is about a dog, Enzo, who is different from other dogs; he is a philosopher and an observer of humans. The major themes that have been discussed thoroughly in this novel include, facing the dark fears, a non-human’s perspective of human and society, and being optimistic towards death and dying.
Firstly, one very important and recurrent theme that has been discussed in the book is facing our darkest fears in order to overcome them. For Enzo, it is a stuffed zebra that personifies evil intent. Also, in the book Don said, “there is no dishonor in losing the race, there is only dishonor in not racing because you are afraid to lose.” The significance of this quote is that it makes an individual realize that one fails when the task is not begun. If an individual is afraid of failure and continues on this detrimental path, nothing would be accomplished. Hence conveying the message that facing your fear and giving everything a try is very important to succeed in life.
In addition, a dog, Enzo, who is aware of the fact that he is different from other dogs, narrates the story. Enzo is a philosopher with a virtually human soul, he has educated himself enough by watching television extensively, and by listening very attentively to the words of his master, Denny Swift, a race car driver. Enzo has always felt humanly. As it is quoted in the book “I’ve always felt almost human. I’ve always known that there’s something about me that’s different than other dogs. Sure, I’m … the shell. It’s what’s inside that’s important. The soul. And my soul is very human”. (Garth Stein, 2008). This quote describes the significance of Enzo’s character in the story. It is a simple story of a family seen through the eyes of their dog, but Enzo’s insight into the human condition is what turns this simple story into something special.
Lastly, death and dying, a major plot, underlines the entirety of The Art of Racing in the Rain. Enzo, the narrator of this novel and a dog looking back on his life and collecting those moments again made the most significant impact. Enzo eventually dies but Enzo’s attitude towards death is very optimistic. While he has enjoyed his life as Denny’s friends, Enzo is nevertheless overjoyed at the prospect of reincarnation. Enzo looks forward to death because of what comes after death and not because he finds his present life to be boring. Enzo is old and his physical condition is just evil for Enzo but his wonderful character and view of life, and ultimately death, is tender and moving.
In conclusion, The Art of Racing in the Rain is a beautiful novel. The three most recurrent themes discussed in the novel include, facing the dark fears, a non-human’s perspective of individuals and society, and being optimistic towards death and dying. This is a novel about family, love, loyalty and spirituality. It is about overcoming obstacles and moving forward through tragedy. But mostly it is about one’s connection towards others, whether they are humans or non-humans.