The Art of Racing in the Rain

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The Art of Racing in the Rain Chapter 19 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Hours later, Denny returns and lets Enzo out of the car. Denny apologizes for leaving Enzo and pulls out a package of peanut butter sandwich crackers—Enzo's favorite. Enzo tries to eat slowly but is too hungry. He remarks at what a shame it is to waste something so wonderful on a dog, and that he hates what he is sometimes.
Here, Enzo doesn't hold dogs in very high regard when he considers how good this particular snack is. His disdain for his current state of being coincides with his desire to be human, or essentially a being that can fully enjoy these crackers.
Themes
 What It Means to Be Human  Theme Icon
 Love and Family  Theme Icon
Denny and Enzo sit on the curb. Enzo knows Denny is upset and sits with him quietly. Enzo remarks to the reader that parking lots are weird places, where people hurry away from the cars they seem to love so much when they're moving. Enzo says the only people who sit in parked cars are police and stalkers, but Enzo can sit in a car for hours and nobody thinks anything of it. He questions what would happen if he were a stalker dog. A short while later, Mike pulls up and sits down next to Denny. Denny says that Zoë is with her grandparents, and they sit quietly for a few minutes.
It's quiet musings like this one that show how Enzo really conceptualizes his place in the world and humanity. Enzo understands Denny's need for comfort and tries to comfort him as best he can. Further, in his musing, Enzo obviously sees his own potential for errant human behavior, despite still being a dog, and recognizes this instance of a double standard between dogs and humans.
Themes
 What It Means to Be Human  Theme Icon
 Language and Storytelling  Theme Icon
 Love and Family  Theme Icon
Enzo then tells the reader why he'll be a good person: he listens. He never interrupts or changes the subject. He says that people speaking to each other is like having a passenger in your car grab your steering wheel and turn you down a side street suddenly. Enzo gives an example of trying to tell a simple story and the twisting avenues the conversation takes away from the original subject, and the story Enzo originally wanted to tell is then lost and unimportant. He implores the reader to learn to listen and not steal other people's stories.
In this address to the reader, Enzo crystallizes what and how he believes humanity should be. Throughout the novel, we see that Enzo's idea of the kind of person he'll be is very much a marriage of the dog he is and an idealized version of the humans around him. Also, notice that Enzo makes this plea to the reader using a driving metaphor, further showing how important driving is to how he sees the world.
Themes
 What It Means to Be Human  Theme Icon
 Language and Storytelling  Theme Icon
Mike asks how bad it is, and Denny says the doctors might just go in and get the “mass” because it's causing Eve's problems whether it's malignant or not. Mike jokes that maybe his wife has a tumor, since she too experiences mood swings, but Denny doesn’t laugh and corrects him that it's just a mass until it's tested. Mike apologizes and says he'd be freaking out if he were Denny. Denny says he is freaking out, and both Mike and Enzo say that they can't tell, which is probably what makes Denny such a good driver.
Consider how the non-human narration works in this moment. Enzo never says outright that Eve has brain cancer; the reader has to imply that from Enzo's dog perception of what's wrong with Eve. This forces the reader to read into the language of the text and make inferences; essentially, to listen carefully, as Enzo just asked us to.
Themes
 Language and Storytelling  Theme Icon
 Love and Family  Theme Icon
 Illness and Death  Theme Icon
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Denny gives Mike the keys to his house, telling him where Enzo's food is and how to ask Enzo to find his dog, his favorite toy. After a moment of silence, Mike tells Denny he doesn't have to keep his emotions inside. Denny just looks down at his shoes, and Enzo thinks about how Denny always wanted a new pair of hiking boots for Christmas, but everyone insists on buying him driving gloves. Enzo quips that he listens.
We again see how Enzo, as a dog, has no choice but to listen in the way he wishes humans would. As this scene plays out, the relationship between Denny and Mike is also fleshed out more, indicating the importance of platonic love and friendship in addition to familial love.
Themes
 What It Means to Be Human  Theme Icon
 Language and Storytelling  Theme Icon
 Love and Family  Theme Icon
 Illness and Death  Theme Icon
Denny looks up at Mike and says this is why Eve didn't want to go to the hospital. Mike doesn't understand but agrees. He asks about his next race, and Denny says that he's going to call and tell them he's out for the season.
Denny here prioritizes his family over racing. Finally, too late, he understands what Eve and Enzo have known for a long time.
Themes
 Love and Family  Theme Icon
 Illness and Death  Theme Icon
Mike takes Enzo to the house to get Enzo's things. He asks, "where's your dog?" as instructed, which humiliates Enzo. Enzo doesn't want to admit that he sleeps with a stuffed animal, but he does admit that he hides it for several reasons. Mostly, he's afraid of the virus that possessed the zebra. He retrieves his dog and they get back in the car to go to Mike's house.
Enzo here suggests that the zebra is not a physical being, but an illness, and notably a virus, which can't be cured—it can only run its course. Enzo's sense of humanity is also apparent with his embarrassment regarding his dog toy.
Themes
 Language and Storytelling  Theme Icon
 Love and Family  Theme Icon
 Illness and Death  Theme Icon
 Destiny and Spirituality  Theme Icon
Mike's wife, who isn't a wife but "a man who is wife-like," asks how it was, and Mike pours a drink in response. Mike's wife picks up Enzo's dog and asks if they have to keep it, and Mike sighs that everyone needs a security blanket. Mike's wife declares that it stinks and puts it in the washing machine. Enzo is stunned, as nobody had ever washed his dog before. He sits and watches it in the washing machine as Mike and his wife, whose name is Tony, watch and laugh at him. Tony dries it when the washer is done, and when it's dry, offers it to Enzo.
Consider how Enzo's upbringing and the people around him influence his description of Tony. Enzo is unable to move beyond his idea that a couple is made up of a husband and a wife, regardless of the gender dynamics within a relationship. This illustrates an extent of his understanding of the intricacies of humanity and human relationships.
Themes
 What It Means to Be Human  Theme Icon
 Language and Storytelling  Theme Icon
 Love and Family  Theme Icon
Enzo wants to hate Tony and everyone else for splitting up his family and washing his dog. He wishes he could go to Mongolia and live by himself and guard the sheep. Enzo takes his dog from Tony and takes it to his bed. Ironically, he finds he likes his dog better clean, something he'd never imagined would be the case, but this realization gives him something to hold onto. Enzo realizes that his family can't be broken by a chance occurrence, an accidental washing, or illness. The familial bond is deep, and however things may change, the family will always be together.
By having his expectation completely turned upside down, Enzo is able to come to terms with the tragedy that is happening to his family. Notice as well how the documentary on Mongolia is integrated into his anger here, as he wishes he could escape his life in Seattle in favor of this fantasy spirit land. Essentially, he wishes for divine intervention to make this situation right again.
Themes
 Love and Family  Theme Icon
 Illness and Death  Theme Icon
 Destiny and Spirituality  Theme Icon