The Art of Racing in the Rain

The Art of Racing in the Rain

The Art of Racing in the Rain Chapter 23 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
One evening at the hospital, Enzo listens to Denny, Maxwell, and Trish talk while Zoë works on a book of mazes. Trish and Maxwell do all the talking, and say simply that it's best, although what "it" is is left unsaid. In the car on the way home, Zoë asks when Eve is coming home, and Denny replies that she's going to stay with Trish and Maxwell for a while until she feels better. When Zoë asks why, Denny replies that it'll be easier.
Again, Enzo's narration as a dog influences our reading of the text and the questions we're encouraged to ask. Enzo takes note of the power dynamic during Denny's conversation with Trish and Maxwell. They do all the speaking, and Denny is forced to listen and agree.
Themes
Language and Storytelling Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Illness and Death Theme Icon
The following Saturday, Denny, Zoë, and Enzo go to Trish and Maxwell's house. The living room now has a fancy moveable bed and a nurse who doesn't care for Enzo. The nurse puts Enzo outside, but Zoë joins him and they play. Enzo remarks that it was a wonderful day with the family all together again.
Here, consider what Enzo's expectations for Eve's homecoming might be compared to what the reader's are. The reader is probably more aware of what Eve has been going through in the hospital than Enzo is.
Themes
Love and Family Theme Icon
Denny calls from the back door that Eve is here, and Zoë and Enzo come inside. Trish and an unknown man help a “mannequin” with dead eyes into the bed, Zoë calls the figure Mommy, and Enzo realizes the figure is Eve. Eve is wearing a stocking cap and looks sunken and ill. She remarks that she feels like a Christmas tree, and then calls Enzo. Enzo thinks that she looks sicker now than when she went into the hospital. He doesn't like any of this, so despite his audience, he hides behind Zoë and looks out the window. Eve remarks that she offended him by being sick, which Enzo denies to the reader. He says his feelings were just too complicated, and he lies down beside her.
Eve's homecoming is very much a spectacle for all involved, which likely contributes to Enzo's discomfort. The fact that Eve looks more ill now than when she went into the hospital will provide further evidence for Enzo's distrust of medicine and medical professionals.
Themes
Language and Storytelling Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Illness and Death Theme Icon
As dinnertime rolls around, the mood lifts. Eve showers and shows everyone her scars, and, wearing her own dress rather than the hospital gown, Enzo says she looks almost normal. Eve tries to read a book to Zoë but can't concentrate, so Zoë reads to Eve instead and reads very well.
We see how Zoë is growing up despite the tragedy taking place all around her. She's now able to read fairly well. This underscores the fact that life indeed continues to go on.
Themes
What It Means to Be Human Theme Icon
Language and Storytelling Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Illness and Death Theme Icon
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Wandering into the kitchen, Enzo finds Denny conferencing again with Trish and Maxwell. The Twins say that they think Zoë should stay with them, "until." Enzo remarks to the reader that language is mostly unspoken, comprised of gestures and looks, and Trish repeating "until" revealed everything about the situation. Denny is irritated and accuses Trish of condemning Eve before they even know, and Trish begins to sob. Maxwell says the doctor said six to eight months, and that this is going to be the only time that Zoë will get to spend with Eve. Enzo sees Denny's dilemma—deprive his daughter of her mother, or be pushed to the periphery of his family-- and Denny says that he'll talk to Zoë.
Enzo, unable to speak or truly participate in the conversation, is able to instead see all of it as though he's watching a play. He's able to read the gestures and read meaning into "until," even though it's unclear if he fully understands the conversation. The reader, on the other hand, knows very well that Eve is terminally ill and has been given six to eight months to live. We again see how Zoë is growing up and becoming her own person as Denny feels the need to consult her about Trish and Maxwell's desire to keep her.
Themes
What It Means to Be Human Theme Icon
Language and Storytelling Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Illness and Death Theme Icon
After dinner, Denny takes Zoë outside to talk and tells her that Eve would like it if she stayed with her. Zoë is concerned about being able to take the bus to school, and remarks that Grandma and Grandpa really want her to stay. Denny is upset, and Enzo notes that Zoë seems to understand what's going on despite the situation being far too mature for her. But Zoë agrees and tells Denny she knows he won't leave her there forever. Enzo marvels at them worrying about doing the right thing and subverting their true desires, and doubts his ability to ever be a human like that.
Here, as concepts of what is right or not get more nuanced, Enzo begins to consider humanity more in terms of these more emotional decisions and in terms of managing one's desires to in turn manage the desires of others. Keep Zoë's comment that Denny won't leave her forever in mind; the idea that Zoë doesn't necessarily want to stay with her grandparents will be important later.
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 night, Enzo finds Denny sitting with Eve, saying that he wants to stay too. Eve says no, and Denny asks what he's done to be sent away. Eve replies that she doesn't want Denny to see her in this way, and when Denny says he doesn't care, Eve says she does. Denny finally agrees. He kisses Eve, tucks Zoë in, and leaves. Enzo understands that Eve wants Denny to remember her as she was, but says that Eve doesn't understand that Denny was capable of looking beyond her physical condition. He says that maybe if Eve had that ability, things might have turned out differently for her.
Here, we get some really important information regarding Enzo's sense of destiny and Eve and Denny's characters. Denny and Enzo are able to look at the big picture, look forward, and see the positive. Eve, on the other hand, is only able to see what's in front of her, presumably her six to eight months to live and her poor physical form right now. Enzo alludes to Eve's future when he says that things may have turned out differently had she been more like Denny.
Themes
What It Means to Be Human Theme Icon
Language and Storytelling Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Illness and Death Theme Icon
Destiny and Spirituality Theme Icon
Everyone goes to sleep except for the nurse, who soon wakes Enzo and leads him to the garage. Enzo is puzzled, thinking that he wouldn't disturb Eve, but she locks him in anyway. Enzo says his prison is dark, the only light coming from an electric clock, and he watches it tick and daydreams about his favorite movies. Enzo lists his favorite actors for the reader. Many are favorites because of their relationships to cars or racing.
Even when Enzo isn't actively watching television, he engages with aspects of television. Besides providing roadmaps for how he views the world, it gives him a mental escape route from his "prison." Additionally, unlike the nurse, we see how much Enzo cares for Eve, as he has no intention to disturb her.
Themes
Language and Storytelling Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Illness and Death Theme Icon
Hours later, Eve appears and calls Enzo back into the living room. She tells him she needs him and not to go away again. She says she's afraid, and asks him to get her through the night. Enzo promises and stays awake all night, guarding Eve from the demon (zebra). In the morning, Enzo relinquishes his guard duties to Trish and Maxwell, and Eve quietly thanks Enzo for his protection.
Eve is afraid of dying and takes comfort in Enzo. We see the fruits of Enzo's manifesting—Eve is finally willing to call on him, and Enzo is more than willing to oblige. Enzo sees Eve's fear as caused by the demon zebra, thus creating a concrete enemy he can “guard” against.
Themes
Love and Family Theme Icon
Illness and Death Theme Icon
Destiny and Spirituality Theme Icon