In Garth Stein's The Art of Racing in the Rain, what is the metaphoric meaning of the second paragraph in Chapter 3 as to what is vital to a racecar driver? What are the implications of Enzo's...

In Garth Stein's The Art of Racing in the Rain, what is the metaphoric meaning of the second paragraph in Chapter 3 as to what is vital to a racecar driver? What are the implications of Enzo's insights into life as he talks about driving?

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Tamara K. H. | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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In the second paragraph of Chapter 3 in Garth Stein's The Art of Racing in the Rain, the extended metaphor that relays advice about driving directly parallels Enzo's own view of a dog's afterlife and of steps needed to take to achieve the afterlife.

One of the most important details in the metaphor is Denny's explanation that racecar drivers must drive "having no memory" of even things done only a second prior regardless of whether or not the thing done was good or bad. The reason why is because "to remember is to disengage from the present." A racecar driver must be completely focused on the here and now in order to avoid fatal mistakes and achieve successes.

Denny's advice about driving with no memory directly parallels Enzo's earlier stated thoughts on the afterlife. After watching a television documentary about Mongolia, Enzo developed a firm belief that after a dog dies, he is reincarnated as a man. He looks forward to the transformation because he sees himself as already having a very human soul regardless of his canine exterior. But he has one hesitation in undergoing the transformation: He realizes that he "will lose all that [he] has been," including all of his past memories and experiences. He hopes he can imprint his memories of being himself and being with the Swift family so deeply that even in his new form, he will have some memory of who he was. Yet, at the same time, he knows that the transformation makes a loss of memory inevitable.

Therefore, just like when driving a racecar the driver must let go of all memories and focus on the present, Enzo knows that living in the afterlife will require letting go of memories and focusing on the new present.

For similar reasons, Enzo is eager to speed up the inevitable process of his death through euthanasia because he feels that doing so will release Denny of his memories, of his past, enabling Denny to focus on the present.

Hence, the metaphor of driving with no memories to focus on the absolute present represents progressing through life in a way that focuses on the here and now, without clinging to memories.

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