Enzo describes Eve's condition as elusive and unpredictable: one day headaches, the next nausea, another dizziness and anger, with weeks or days of normalcy in between. The nature of her illness is beyond Denny. Enzo says the screaming fits and anguish are things only dogs and women understand, because they connect directly to the pain and can enjoy the beauty of it while taking the pain straight in the face. Enzo says men treat pain like athlete's foot, where the spray does nothing to treat the actual cause, which may be something seemingly unrelated to foot fungus. This causes the actual problem to express itself later in a deeper way.
Enzo conceptualizes illness as a living, breathing thing, something that you can see and can be considered beautiful despite the pain it causes. Also note that gender here works to equalize dogs and women, much as it did for Enzo when Eve was pregnant. Consider Enzo's analysis of how men handle pain, as it foreshadows Denny's later reactions to pain and tragedy.
Denny begs Eve to see a doctor and get medication, but she refuses. Denny doesn't understand, as Eve and Enzo do, that a doctor couldn't actually explain or treat the true cause of her illness.
Both Eve and Enzo experience a deep distrust of the medical community, although the reason for Eve's feelings on this are never shared.
Enzo understands Denny's frustration at his inability to do anything, likening it to being locked in a soundproof box where you can see and hear everything but can never speak. Enzo says it's driven many dogs mad, citing dogs found eating their owner's face after he or she fell asleep. Enzo says you see it on TV regularly, where the dog's mind just finally snapped. Enzo, however, says he's found ways around the madness, like watching television to learn about human behavior. Denny, however, avoids the madness by driving through it, making a commitment to do everything else since he can't help Eve feel better.
Enzo sees the inability to truly communicate as the path to madness, and he sees it happening with Denny and Eve through Eve's inability to communicate her fear of seeing a doctor. Both Enzo and Denny have to come up with ways around their inability to understand or communicate. Note that Denny's method is discussed in terms of driving, further developing his character as one intrinsically linked to racing.
Enzo notes that sometimes, bad things happen to racecars in the middle of races, like losing gears or brakes overheating. He says bad drivers crash, average drivers give up, and great drivers drive through it, like one driver in 1989 who drove the final 20 laps of a race with only two gears.
Again, the discussion about racing serves as a roadmap for the reader to use to understand the actions and thought processes of characters in the novel, Denny in this case.
Denny cuts back hours at work so he can take over the running of the household, with the intent of relieving Eve of any burden or stress. This does not, however, allow him to continue to engage Eve in physical affection. Enzo believes that Denny's prioritization was appropriate.
Here, Denny is "driving through it" by taking over the household, although he still can't have it all. Using Enzo's racing metaphor, the lack of physical intimacy between Denny and Eve is the real-life “missing gear.”
Enzo addresses the reader and says he sees green as gray and red as black, but does that make him a bad potential person? He continues, saying that if he had a computer system like Stephen Hawking's, he would write great books. But humans don't give him that, and he asks whose fault it is then that he is what he is.
Enzo blames humans, evolution, and the aforementioned sinister White House plot for being a mute dog who can only do so much.
Enzo says that Denny simply delegated his love-giving of Eve to Enzo. When Eve experienced episodes, Denny would take Zoë to movies or to the zoo and tell Enzo to take care of Eve. Enzo would curl up by the bed or next to Eve on the floor if she collapsed, and Eve would hold Enzo close and tell him about the pain. She'd say that she screams because if she's silent the pain will find her.
For Eve, Enzo has been a surrogate for Denny since Zoë's birth, and they develop a degree of closeness through this surrogacy. Language plays a huge part in this, as their relationship improves when Eve speaks candidly to Enzo.
Enzo discusses demons, ghosts, phantoms, and spirits. He says people are afraid of them and therefore keep them in stories that can be put on shelves and left behind. Enzo implores the reader, then, to trust him that the zebra is real, and somewhere, it is dancing.
Here, pain is equated with demons and the zebra. Eve's pain is so great that it haunts her and can't be left behind in a book—it's a real live thing that follows her everywhere.
Through the winter, Eve loses weight and becomes drawn and pale. Despite Denny's concern, Eve continues to refuse to see a doctor. One evening after dinner, Enzo notes the odd occurrence that Denny and Eve both appeared naked in their bedroom. They hadn't “played” in a long time. Eve says, "the field is fertile," and Denny questions if she really is. Eve asks him to say it anyway, her eyes dimmed. Denny says he embraces the fertility, but Enzo thinks they seem unenthusiastic. He can tell Eve is pretending when she waves Enzo off. Enzo goes to another room, falls asleep, and dreams of crows.
Eve is trying to hold onto some sense of normalcy despite her illness. Their sex here is treated as an attempted indicator that life is normal more than anything else, as it's clear that neither Eve nor Denny is getting much out of the experience. As such, their language follows the course that it usually does, which further adds to the normalcy, while their attitudes about the language admit that nothing about the situation is normal.