Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance


Robert Pirsig

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Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance Symbols

Motorcycle Maintenance

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 analysis of Motorcycle Maintenance


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 analysis of Mu

The Glass Door

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 analysis of The Glass Door

Chris’s Stomachaches

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 analysis of Chris’s Stomachaches

Seed Crystal

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 analysis of Seed Crystal

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