Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

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Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance Chapter 19 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
During the night, the narrator dreams that a glass door separates him from his wife and two sons. In this recurring dream, Chris asks him to open the door but the narrator declines. The narrator understands it as signifying Chris’s fear of being unable to relate to his father. That morning, Chris informs the narrator that he had been talking worryingly in his sleep about meeting Chris upon a mountaintop and being able to see everything from there.
The glass door dream is a significant symbol that reappears throughout the book. It illustrates the division between the narrator and his family, and implies that some aspect of the narrator’s identity may be to blame for it.
Themes
Identity Theme Icon
Phaedrus is asked by the Bozeman English faculty whether Quality is a subjective or objective phenomenon. This dilemma preoccupies Phaedrus greatly, since there seems to be no fulfilling answer, so he decides to subject it to an exhaustive logical analysis. After extensive deliberation, he chooses to reject both possibilities: Quality is neither subjective nor objective, but together the three form a trinity that constitutes the world.
Phaedrus’s move is a break from the dualistic logic that governs academia. This step in defining Quality begins to show how radically it will depart from traditional western thought.
Themes
Quality Theme Icon
Rationality and Irrationality Theme Icon
Duality Theme Icon
Phaedrus is very excited by his tripartite model of reality, but he decides to revise it. He concludes that Quality is actually the phenomenon that allows for the separation of the world into subjective and objective realms in the first place. This makes subjectivity and objectivity subordinate to Quality.
By placing Quality above subjectivity and objectivity, Phaedrus repudiates this dualism. This is a very bold move: the subject/object move has been a defining characteristic—a foundation—of centuries of Western intellectual tradition.
Themes
Quality Theme Icon
Rationality and Irrationality Theme Icon
Duality Theme Icon
Just as Phaedrus’s breakthrough is recounted by the narrator, he and Chris break out of the tree line. Chris sprints to the summit and gloatingly declares himself the winner. The narrator seems upset by this egotistical behavior.
The travelers’ arrival at the summit coincides with the narrator’s description of Phaedrus’s success. Chris’s egotistical behavior suggests that Phaedrus, too, may have been egotistically motivated to reach his accomplishment.
Themes
Quality Theme Icon
Identity Theme Icon
Duality Theme Icon
Zen Theme Icon
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