The Art of Racing in the Rain

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The Art of Racing in the Rain Chapter 8 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
One summer weekend, Denny and Enzo sit down in front of the TV to study a tape of an enduro race that Denny drove in Portland a few weeks prior. The team finished first in class thanks to Denny's heroics. Enzo shares with the reader that watching a race from in-car video is quite the experience, as it gives a perspective on the driver that is lost when one watches a race on a television broadcast. Denny starts the tape near the end of the race. The track is wet and it looks as though it's going to rain again, and Denny's team decided to switch to rain tires, putting Denny far behind the other competitors.
Watching races together is one way that Denny and Enzo express their love and affection for each other. It also ties in with Enzo's education, as Denny explains things to Enzo while they watch—again treating him like a human. Here we see Denny's ability to plan and control his surroundings through his choice to put on rain tires before the rain even started.
Themes
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As the rain begins, Denny starts passing other cars that aren't using rain tires and are therefore struggling. Eve, standing in the doorway watching, asks why Denny can take turns so fast. Denny replies that many of them aren't using rain tires. As they watch, Denny strategically passes a Camaro, and Denny translates his strategy for Eve and Enzo. Eve remarks that Denny is driving as though the track isn't wet.
Denny is an excellent driver in the rain because of his ability to predict. Throughout this scene, the idea of rain as an obstacle or a challenge is developed, as well as the idea that Denny isn't hindered by the rain or challenges as much as others are.
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Denny softly says, "that which you manifest is before you." Noting Eve's confusion at the phrase, Denny describes learning to drive in the rain when he was first in driving school. All the students were extremely confused after the instructors shared all their secrets, and Denny looked at the guy sitting next to him, who smiled and said, "that which you manifest is before you." Denny says that drivers are afraid of the rain because it amplifies mistakes and can make a car handle unpredictably, which then necessitates reacting at speed. Reacting at speed is reacting too late.
"That which you manifest is before you" will become the guiding phrase of the novel itself, and will especially influence Enzo's belief system and how he interacts with the world. Denny's description of why rain is such a scary element for drivers essentially comes down to it being dangerous to be in a situation where one might have to make sudden decisions that may not end well.
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Denny continues, saying that if he makes the car do something, he can predict what will happen next. Eve asks if that means spinning the car before the car spins itself, and Denny replies affirmatively. Still watching the tape, they watch Denny nearly start to spin, but he corrects before the spin fully starts. Denny says that all drivers spin because all drivers must test the limits. Eve watches for another minute before standing up and leaving for the kitchen while Denny and Enzo continue to watch.
Denny's advocating here for being entirely aware of one's surroundings and the events taking place around you. Denny indicates that everyone has to test their own limits in order to learn, but by being aware and in control, you can better understand where the limits are and not have to make potentially dangerous, rash decisions.
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Denny says nothing more as he and Enzo keep watching, but Enzo mulls over what Denny just said. It's a simple concept, he thinks, but so true that individuals bring on success or failure through their own intention or ignorance. Enzo considers his relationship with Eve, thinking that his resentment of her is mirrored by her aloof nature with him, and there is still a great deal of distance between them. Enzo gets up from the TV and lays down by the refrigerator in the kitchen to be with Eve, manifesting something.
This is the first time we see Enzo explicitly take a piece of racing wisdom and apply it directly to his life or the lives of those around him. He understands that he in some sense "manifested" and created his rocky relationship with Eve, but he also understands that he has the opportunity to fix it through manifesting a different way.
Themes
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Eve is self-conscious about Enzo's presence, but Enzo believes she simply doesn't understand his intentions. As she gets caught up in dinner preparations, she forgets Enzo, who drifts off to the smell of food. He awakens later to find Eve scratching his belly. She returns to making dinner, rubbing him occasionally with her foot as she passes by. Enzo tells the reader that he always wanted to love Eve like Denny loves her, but never did out of fear. Enzo believes that Eve is his fear, his unpredictable entity: his rain. At this moment, Enzo decides a racer should embrace the rain rather than be afraid of it, and Enzo says he believes he can manifest a change.
Whether Eve is aware of Enzo's intentions or not, she shows herself to be open to his “manifesting.” For Enzo, by considering Eve a challenge to be overcome rather than criticizing her and seeing her as a one-dimensional, negative entity, he's able to see his path forward with her.
Themes
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 Love and Family  Theme Icon
 Destiny and Spirituality  Theme Icon