Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

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Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance Symbols

Motorcycle maintenance is, not surprisingly, the central symbol of the text. It is used as a real-life practice that can serve as a conduit for an individual’s awareness of Quality. Across his Chautauquas, the narrator… (read full symbol analysis)


Mu is a Japanese word that the narrator explains as meaning “no thing.” It is used when a question cannot be adequately answered with a yes/no response. Mu represents a refusal to conceptualize issues in… (read full symbol analysis)
The glass door is the dominant image in a recurring nightmare the narrator experiences. In this dream, the narrator is separated from Chris and the rest of his family by a glass door. While his… (read full symbol analysis)
Throughout the motorcycle trip, Chris repeatedly complains of stomachaches. The narrator reveals that these stomachaches have no physiological basis, and that they have been diagnosed as indicators of a predisposition to mental illness. These… (read full symbol analysis)
A seed crystal is a small particle used to induce crystallization in a liquid. It is a metaphor that the narrator borrows from Phaedrus’s background in biochemistry to express the insight-based processes that allowed Phaedrus’s… (read full symbol analysis)
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