The Art of Racing in the Rain

The Art of Racing in the Rain

The Art of Racing in the Rain Chapter 11 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Returning to the narrative, Enzo takes stock of his situation, locked in the house alone. He thinks that Eve is ill and it's affecting her judgment, and Denny will be home after two nights. As a dog, Enzo says he knows how to fast, thanks to a cruel exchange in which humans got big brains in exchange for being susceptible to salmonella, and dogs gave up thumbs in exchange for being able to survive without food for long periods of time. For three days Enzo rations the toilet water, fantasizes about a bowl of kibble, and searches for errant food scraps. He defecates and urinates on a mat by the back door and tries not to panic.
Here the discussion from the previous chapter is put into play. Enzo takes stock of his situation and the skills and resources he has, and does his best to not panic and induce a real life “spin.” In the aside, we again get a taste of Enzo's conception of evolution and creation, as he sees his ability to fast as something he received in return for not being physically human.
Themes
What It Means to Be Human Theme Icon
Illness and Death Theme Icon
On the second night, Enzo says, he thinks he started hallucinating after eating some long-forgotten yogurt remnants on Zoë's high chair. He hears a noise coming from Zoë's bedroom and when he goes to investigate, Zoë's stuffed zebra is moving on its own. Enzo is surprised to see the zebra, since it's one of Zoë's favorites, but he reasons that Eve was in so much pain she overlooked it when she was packing.
Notice here that Enzo at least considers the fact that what he's seeing is possibly a creation of his mind and not actually real. Besides the fantastical nature of his story, this pushes the reader to assume that this is a hallucination.
Themes
Language and Storytelling Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Illness and Death Theme Icon
Destiny and Spirituality Theme Icon
Seeing Enzo, the zebra begins to dance and then starts sexually assaulting one of Zoë's Barbie dolls. Enzo growls, offended, but the zebra just smiles and moves on to Zoë's other toys, assaulting and humiliating them. When Enzo can take no more and moves to attack the zebra, it stops, stands on its hind legs in front of Enzo, and rips open its belly seam. It then proceeds to dismantle itself, pulling out handfuls of stuffing. When it has reduced itself to a pile of fabric and stuffing on the floor, Enzo leaves the room, traumatized. He hopes that what he witnessed was just a vision, but knows somehow that something true and terrible just occurred.
Enzo's belief that what he saw was somehow true, despite his earlier admission that he was probably hallucinating, turns him into an unreliable narrator in this situation. It also creates questions about the truth of the rest of Enzo's narration. Notice too that the zebra's antics are ones of sexual power. The idea of the zebra as being linked to taking sexual advantages will be recurring.
Themes
Language and Storytelling Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Illness and Death Theme Icon
Destiny and Spirituality Theme Icon
The next afternoon, Enzo hears Denny's taxi pull up outside. As Denny enters the house, he steps right onto the squishy doormat. Surprised, he hops off the mat and calls for Eve, but Enzo is the only one home. Denny picks up the phone, and after a minute says into it that Enzo is home. Realizing that Enzo has been home alone the entire time, he curses and hangs up. Denny shouts in frustration, cleans up the doormat, and fills Enzo's food and water bowls. Eve and Zoë arrive minutes later. Zoë hides behind Eve as Eve tries to explain how sick she was. Denny's anger doesn't recede, and Eve breaks down and says she can't deal with Denny's absences anymore.
The reader and Enzo are aware of the events of the situation while Denny and Eve are forced to piece together what happened. Denny's intense show of anger at Eve is indicative of how much he cares for Enzo, but we also see just how ill Eve is and how seriously affected she is by Denny's absences.
Themes
Language and Storytelling Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Illness and Death Theme Icon
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Hearing crying, Enzo and Eve look over and see Zoë weeping in the hallway and Eve rushes to comfort her. Zoë cries, "my animals," and Eve, Denny, and Zoë go down the hall to Zoë's room. Enzo doesn't follow, as he doesn't want to be anywhere near where the evil zebra had been. Suddenly, Enzo hears loud footsteps and Denny calls Enzo stupid, grabbing him by the scruff of his neck. Denny drags him into Zoë's room, which is a mess of eviscerated animals and dolls. Enzo thinks that the zebra must have put itself back together and destroyed the other animals after Enzo left the room, and that he should've eaten the zebra when he had the chance.
Enzo's moment of righteousness is short lived as he's forced to confront what happened in Zoë's room. The reader here can piece together what actually happened with the zebra (Enzo was so hungry—and probably hallucinating—that he destroyed Zoë's toys), but Enzo's inability to come to this conclusion shows the limits of his perception.
Themes
Language and Storytelling Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Illness and Death Theme Icon
Destiny and Spirituality Theme Icon
Denny's towering anger fills the room, and he rises up and strikes Enzo on the head, yelling "bad dog!" When he moves to hit Enzo again, Eve protects Enzo. Denny stops, and Enzo knows that he won't hit Eve. Enzo says Denny didn't actually hit him, even though he can feel the pain—Denny had hit the zebra and believed the evil demon was inside Enzo. Enzo believes he was framed by the demon that had possessed the zebra.
Enzo begins to grasp an understanding of how the zebra works and possesses individuals. Further, Enzo can't quite conceptualize that Denny would hit him, hence the belief that Denny hit the zebra instead. Eve and Enzo's growing relationship is also evident.
Themes
Language and Storytelling Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Illness and Death Theme Icon
Destiny and Spirituality Theme Icon
Enzo slinks towards Zoë, understanding her pain since he knows so much about her fantasy world. He says that she allows him to play with her, and her games have significant meaning. Through her games, he learns that Zoë worships her father and tries hard to please her mother. Lying on the floor next to her, Enzo raises his eyebrows to ask for forgiveness for not protecting her animals. After a long wait, Zoë reaches out and puts her hand on Enzo's head.
The stories that Zoë tells through her fantasy games are powerful in that they show how she truly sees herself and the world around her. Because of this, Enzo understands that her grief is not just for silly stuffed animals, but an entire world of her creation that reflects her intimately.
Themes
What It Means to Be Human Theme Icon
Language and Storytelling Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Illness and Death Theme Icon
Later that evening, Enzo finds Denny on the porch drinking hard liquor. Enzo approaches cautiously, but Denny pats the step next to him and Enzo approaches. Denny apologizes and finishes his drink, pouring himself another. Speaking candidly to Enzo, Denny says his team got first place, and asks if Enzo knows what that means. Enzo does—it means that Denny was the champion. Denny answers and says it means he got an offer for a seat in a touring car next year.
Enzo understands Denny's win, but the true meaning of getting first place actually means more than Enzo thought. These early wins build up a sense of how good of a driver Denny is. His candid tone with Enzo is indicative of their close relationship and makes Enzo feel appreciated and more equal.
Themes
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Love and Family Theme Icon
Enzo, brimming with anticipation, says he loves when Denny talks like this, dragging out the drama. Enzo loves the narrative tease, since he's a dramatist, and that telling a good story means setting expectations and then delivering them in exciting ways.
The drama and storytelling devices are thrilling to Enzo. This idea can be applied to the novel as a whole, as Enzo, the dramatist, gets to use these devices to tell his own story.
Themes
Language and Storytelling Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Denny continues, saying that the offer means coming up with sponsorship money and then spending most of six months away from home. He asks if he's willing to do that. Enzo is torn. He thinks about how much Denny loves racing, but he notes the pit he gets in his stomach when he thinks about Denny leaving. Denny finishes his drink and says he doesn't think he can leave like that.
Denny leads Enzo to believe that he's prioritizing his family over his racing career in this situation. Enzo cares deeply for Denny as a racer, however, and knows what a sacrifice it is for Denny to make this decision.
Themes
Love and Family Theme Icon
Denny says he can't believe Eve left Enzo for days, even if she did have a virus that made her unable to think. Enzo wonders if Denny truly believes this or if he's lying to himself, thinking that if he were a person he could tell him the truth. Enzo experiences a moment of questioning though, and thinks that if he were a person, he's not sure Denny would want to hear what Enzo had to say.
Note Enzo's questioning of humanity as he wonders whether Denny would want to hear or listen to Enzo's knowledge of Eve's illness. Also, Enzo's conception of his own humanity includes his dog-specific abilities, which he would presumably lose were he human.
Themes
What It Means to Be Human Theme Icon
Language and Storytelling Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Illness and Death Theme Icon
Blathering and drunk, Denny tells Enzo he loves him. Enzo feels the love and feels proud for surviving, laying his head on Denny's leg. Denny says he thinks sometimes Enzo truly understands him, and Enzo think to himself that he does.
This poignant moment highlights the communication disconnect between Denny and Enzo, but their love for each other transcends their inability to speak to each other.
Themes
What It Means to Be Human Theme Icon
Language and Storytelling Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon