The Art of Racing in the Rain

The Art of Racing in the Rain Chapter 38 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Due to the criminal charges against Denny, Trish and Maxwell are granted a temporary restraining order that means Denny isn't allowed to see Zoë for several months. Denny and Enzo are wracked with grief. Mark Fein negotiates a letter exchange between Denny and Zoë, and he and Denny concoct a story that Denny is driving racecars in Europe to explain his absence. Enzo tells the reader that he admires Denny's restraint and likens him to one of Denny's favorite 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.
Notice the differences here between Denny and Enzo. Denny is cool, calculated, and doesn't take risks, while Enzo would rather be like the charismatic Ayrton Senna and take the biggest risk of all. It's unclear whether Enzo understands what the consequences of embodying Senna in this situation would be, which adds a degree of mystery and questioning to Enzo's understanding. Remember too that Enzo has said that it's the disciplined driver that wins. Essentially, he knows Denny is right.
Themes
Language and Storytelling Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Destiny and Spirituality Theme Icon
The made up story, while successful, forgot to account for Enzo's whereabouts, leading Trish and Maxwell to panic when Zoë asks to see him. Denny tells Mark that for the story, Enzo is staying with Mike and Tony, and Mike can take Enzo to visit on Saturday.
The power of storytelling is strong, but not infallible.
Themes
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Love and Family Theme Icon
When Mike brings Enzo back to Denny on Saturday evening, Denny eagerly pesters Mike for updates on Zoë. Mike tells Denny she's doing well, and Enzo wonders if Mike didn't see Zoë's sadness and loneliness, or hear her whispered plans to Enzo that they'd escape to Europe to find Denny.
Enzo, as a dog, sees how unhappy Zoë is in a way that Mike either can't see or doesn't want to tell Denny he sees. We see how powerful storytelling can be, but also must consider how the power changes depending on the narrator.
Themes
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Enzo addresses the reader and says that Denny was offered several jobs throughout the summer that he was unable to accept since he was unable to leave the state. Enzo says he understands, though, that Denny allowed this situation to befall him to test his endurance and stamina. He comes to realize as well that he himself is integral to the drama, as Denny quizzes Enzo in the evenings after Enzo returns from visiting Zoë. Enzo tries to form words and communicate telepathically, with no success, but Denny smiles and accepts Enzo's gestures.
The reader is reminded that parts of Enzo's story are a fiction. Despite the fact that his family is in very real danger of being forever changed for the worse, Enzo still considers the events partly in terms of their dramatic qualities. Enzo also once again considers Denny in terms of the driver he is and in terms of destiny.
Themes
What It Means to Be Human Theme Icon
Language and Storytelling Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Destiny and Spirituality Theme Icon
Get the entire Racing in the Rain LitChart as a printable PDF.
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