The Art of Racing in the Rain

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 Ayrton Senna  Symbol Icon

Senna is Enzo's favorite driver, who died tragically and mysteriously during a race in 1995. Enzo says that Senna was charismatic and daring, and Senna is often conflated with Denny. Both Senna and Denny are exceptional drivers in the rain, which speaks to their intellectual capabilities and unflappable attitudes. Despite this conflation with Denny, however, Enzo remarks that he himself is often more like Senna than Denny is, as Enzo wants to be more spontaneous and carefree than Denny often is willing to be. Senna provides Enzo with something to idolize and look up to and is a huge player in Enzo's conception of spirituality, as he acts like a positive counterpoint for the evil of the zebra. Senna's persona also informs Enzo's idea of what he'd like to be when he's finally human.

Ayrton Senna Quotes in The Art of Racing in the Rain

The The Art of Racing in the Rain quotes below all refer to the symbol of Ayrton Senna . For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
 What It Means to Be Human  Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the HarperCollins edition of The Art of Racing in the Rain published in 2009.
Chapter 1 Quotes

After the 1993 Grand Prix, the best thing I've ever seen on TV is a documentary that explained everything to me, made it all clear, told the whole truth: when a dog is finished living his lifetimes as a dog, his next incarnation will be as a man.

Related Characters: Enzo (speaker)
Related Symbols: Television , Ayrton Senna
Page Number: 2
Explanation and Analysis:

Enzo is lying on the floor in a puddle of his own urine, waiting for Denny to come home. The purpose of this staged spectacle is for Enzo to impress upon Denny that he can let Enzo go and put him down. Enzo is addressing the reader and explaining why he's okay with dying: he'll be reincarnated as a man.

Throughout the text, Enzo offers ranked lists of things, whether it be the relative intelligence of other animals or his favorite actors. In this very short list, he offers several important ideas that make up his understanding of spirituality and destiny. Ayrton Senna, Enzo's favorite racecar driver, won the 1993 Grand Prix, and is notable in that Enzo idolizes him and would like to be as much like Senna as possible. Then we're provided with the genesis of Enzo's belief in reincarnation, and why it is so important to him. Enzo is very upfront about the fact that he feels very human and he tries to behave in ways that he feels are more human-like, and he has this documentary to thank for giving him this idea.

Also important, however, is the fact that Enzo's relationship with Senna and his belief in reincarnation come from television. Television is often referred to as Enzo's method of education, and we see here how fully he embraces the ideas he comes across during his hours of viewing.

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Chapter 30 Quotes

Racing is about discipline and intelligence, not about who has the heavier foot. The one who drives smart will always win in the end.

Related Characters: Enzo (speaker), Denny
Related Symbols: Ayrton Senna
Page Number: 178
Explanation and Analysis:

This is part of one of Enzo's deviations from the narrative to discuss racing strategy. These asides serve the purpose of providing a way for the reader to connect racing and racing strategy to the overarching narrative. Here, Maxwell and Trish have just sued Denny for Zoë's custody. This aside, then, sets the stage for the ensuing battle between Denny and Trish and Maxwell. By stating that a smart driver will always win, and making it clear that the fight of a race is about discipline rather than just speed, Enzo makes it clear that the fight for Zoë is going to be fought with intelligence rather than brute strength. Further, the reader is also encouraged to see Denny as the disciplined, smart driver, essentially alluding to his ultimate “win.”

Chapter 47 Quotes

He died that day because his body had served its purpose. His soul had done what it came to do, learned what it came to learn, and then was free to leave. And I knew, as Denny sped me toward the doctor who would fix me, that if I had already accomplished what I set out to accomplish here on earth, if I had already learned what I was meant to learn, I would have left the curb one second later than I had, and I would have been killed instantly by that car.

Related Characters: Enzo (speaker), Denny
Related Symbols: Ayrton Senna
Page Number: 257
Explanation and Analysis:

Enzo is in the back of Denny's car heading for the vet after being hit by a car. While he lies there, he tells the reader about the mystery surrounding Ayrton Senna's death. Enzo's belief in destiny and the idea that things and events are meant to be is apparent. Rather than simply believing in chance or accidents, he tries to make sense of events by relating them to racing and the mysterious lives of those he admires. Essentially, Enzo uses what he knows about Senna's death to inform his own beliefs about how death, and the timing of death, works in his own life. While Enzo doesn't say specifically what he still has to learn before he can die, the suggestion that he still has more to do or learn makes the reader look for that lesson throughout the rest of the novel.

Chapter 49 Quotes

When it rained, it never rained on Senna.

Related Characters: Enzo (speaker)
Related Symbols: Rain , Ayrton Senna
Page Number: 268
Explanation and Analysis:

After Enzo keeps Denny from signing a sub-par legal settlement, the two later watch the 1984 Grand Prix of Monaco race tape. It was a rainy day and Senna was doing very well, but the race was canceled due to the rain. Remember that rain symbolizes struggle and challenges, while Senna is explored as a mythical figure and conflated with Denny.

At this point in the text, Denny is nearing the end of his legal battles, and he's come away from not signing the settlement renewed and reinvigorated. When Enzo's statement is applied to Denny's situation, it creates a sense that Denny is of course going to be victorious, because he's so much like Senna and the rain, or his challenges, can't truly touch him. Enzo, the dramatist, plays these moments of true hope and certainty of Denny's success off of descriptions of the extremely low points that Denny experiences. This serves to create drama, as Enzo certainly knows, as well as leading the reader to question the power of Enzo's belief system. Will Denny truly come out victorious, when his challenges are as great as they are?

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Ayrton Senna Symbol Timeline in The Art of Racing in the Rain

The timeline below shows where the symbol Ayrton Senna appears in The Art of Racing in the Rain. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
 What It Means to Be Human  Theme Icon
 Language and Storytelling  Theme Icon
 Illness and Death  Theme Icon
 Destiny and Spirituality  Theme Icon
...saw on television, he says, was the 1993 Grand Prix of Europe, in which Ayrton Senna drove like a genius in the rain. Enzo continues, saying that he's always felt almost... (full context)
 Language and Storytelling  Theme Icon
 Love and Family  Theme Icon
 Destiny and Spirituality  Theme Icon
...affect him at all, just like the 1993 Grand Prix of Europe, in which Ayrton Senna passed four champion cars on the first lap like he was magic. (full context)
 Love and Family  Theme Icon
 Illness and Death  Theme Icon
Enzo says that Denny is as good as Senna, but nobody notices Denny because he has responsibilities: his daughter, Zoë, and Enzo, and until... (full context)
Chapter 25
 What It Means to Be Human  Theme Icon
 Language and Storytelling  Theme Icon
 Destiny and Spirituality  Theme Icon
...driver, but not a fan favorite because he's remote and unapproachable, unlike the charismatic Ayrton Senna. Similarly, nobody applauds the sun just for rising, since it hasn't overcome adversity to do... (full context)
Chapter 38
 Language and Storytelling  Theme Icon
 Love and Family  Theme Icon
 Destiny and Spirituality  Theme Icon
...drivers, who never took unnecessary risks. Enzo, in contrast, says he'd like to be like Senna and pack their things, pick up Zoë unannounced from school, and escape to Canada. (full context)
Chapter 47
 Language and Storytelling  Theme Icon
 Illness and Death  Theme Icon
 Destiny and Spirituality  Theme Icon
...car on the way to the vet that night, it occurs to him that Ayrton Senna didn't have to die; he could've walked away. He tells the reader that the day... (full context)
 What It Means to Be Human  Theme Icon
 Language and Storytelling  Theme Icon
 Illness and Death  Theme Icon
 Destiny and Spirituality  Theme Icon
In the extremely dangerous Tamburello corner, Senna's car left the track at 190mph and he was killed instantly when suspension pierced his... (full context)
Chapter 49
 Language and Storytelling  Theme Icon
 Love and Family  Theme Icon
 Destiny and Spirituality  Theme Icon
...on one of Enzo's favorite races, the 1984 Grand Prix of Monaco, in which Ayrton Senna drives in the rain. Enzo tells the reader that Senna would've won, but they canceled... (full context)
Chapter 58
 Love and Family  Theme Icon
 Illness and Death  Theme Icon
 Destiny and Spirituality  Theme Icon
...Denny will experience success on the track and become a Formula One driver like Ayrton Senna. Enzo says he'd like to see this happen, but his soul has learned what it... (full context)
Imola, Italy
 What It Means to Be Human  Theme Icon
 Language and Storytelling  Theme Icon
 Destiny and Spirituality  Theme Icon
...man thanks Denny profusely and tells him that Enzo says that Denny is better than Senna. Denny ruffles the boy's hair and says he's a racer at heart. Enzo says, in... (full context)