The Art of Racing in the Rain

by Garth Stein
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In the novel The Art of Racing in the Rain, what is an opinion of the idea that the characters' (Denny and Enzo) response to difficult circumstances shapes who they become in the future?    

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The mantra of Enzo in the novel The Art of Racing in the Rain is “That which you manifest is before you.” In other words, we manifest our own destinies. The premise of the novel is that Enzo is preparing himself to follow the Mongolian belief that if chosen and...

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The mantra of Enzo in the novel The Art of Racing in the Rain is “That which you manifest is before you.” In other words, we manifest our own destinies. The premise of the novel is that Enzo is preparing himself to follow the Mongolian belief that if chosen and well educated a dog will be reincarnated as a human. In his quest to gain what it takes, he comes to realize the hardships humanity faces. His owner, Denny, is in the throws of a custody battle with his in-laws after his wife passes away. This plot line highlight how overcoming conflict is essential to determining our future.

In Enzo's quest to educate himself on human life, he watches television about race cars. Denny is an avid racer and Enzo wants to understand what his owner knows. As such, Enzo learns from his owner that “your car goes where your eyes go.” This ultimately comes to be an inspirational phrase as Enzo and Denny come across obstacle after obstacle. According to Enzo’s ideology, we have free will in the decisions we make. We choose our own destiny.

In Denny’s quest, he is in a custody battle with his in-laws, Maxwell and Trish. After his wife, Eve, passed, his in-laws felt that he was incapable of taking care of their daughter, Zoë. Maxwell and Trish pursue a lawsuit that consumes Denny’s life. He is forced to sell his home and stop racing. Concurrently, Denny is having to handle a false accusation of sexual assault hurled at him by Annika. Denny gets charged with sexual assault and is in court for this too. The metaphor of race car driving continues throughout the plot as Denny employs his ability to remain calm under stress. He “keeps his eyes on the road” and “hands on the wheel.” His ability to have faith and stay strong is what brings the lawsuit to an end as Annika admits her lie. Ultimately, this leads to his in-laws dropping their custody case. The reader comes to learn that better times come when we don’t give up.

At the very end of the novel, Denny is offered a dream job in Italy with his daughter. Enzo knows he is too old to travel all the way to Italy and accepts his destiny. He passes and the last scene is of Denny and his daughter in their new home. A boy name Enzo passes by and says to Denny, “your car goes where your eyes go.” The reader is left to believe that this must have been Enzo reincarnated as a human.

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