Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance


Robert Pirsig

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on Zen and the Art of... can help.

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: Chapter 20 Summary & Analysis

The narrator and Chris take a nap on the summit. When he wakes, the narrator hears some rockslides and dwells more on the mysterious and concerning things he said to Chris in his sleep. Chris awakes, and the two listen to ominous rockslides and talk more about the narrator’s sleep-talking. The narrator decides that ascending to the top of the mountain is unwise. Chris is disappointed, but the two begin trekking down the mountain.
The rockslides symbolize the threatening lack of control that the narrator’s sleep-talking betrays. Because the narrator fears what his unconscious is capable of, he backs down from his goal.
Quality Theme Icon
Identity Theme Icon
Rationality and Irrationality Theme Icon
Duality Theme Icon
Phaedrus conceptualizes Quality as a “preintellectual reality.” He explains that some people view it differently because they approach it with different experiences. He then realizes that his conception of Quality treats it as an absolute monism much more than as the trinity he had previously envisioned. Phaedrus pulls out the Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu and realizes that his Quality corresponds to the Tao exactly. He is overwhelmed by this sudden epiphany.
Phaedrus’s discovery that Quality equates to the Tao makes it seem as though he has broken into a plane of eternal wisdom.
Quality Theme Icon
Duality Theme Icon
Related Quotes