Motorcycle Maintenance Loss

1870 Words8 Pages
The initial reaction to learning that a loved one has died is to deny the reality of the situation. In order to contain one’s overwhelming emotions, the person will oftentimes isolate themselves from the world, or deny that the loss has genuinely happened. Denial is only temporary and is present to cushion the initial shock of loss. In Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig, the narrator is in a stage of denial and isolation. In my research paper, I will interpret and discuss the narrator’s loss of identity before and after electroshock therapy by relating it to Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’ model of the five stages of grief and referring to the book, Coping with Workplace Change: Dealing with Loss and Grief by J. Shep Jeffreys.…show more content…
These stages of grief are prominently brought forth in the seventh chapter, where the reader finds out how Phaedrus and the Narrator are related. The narrator’s loss of his identity is comparable to the loss of a loved one, which is supported when the narrator states, “He was dead” (Pirsig 88) This disconnection from his previous personality causes him to go into denial about the fact that he and Phaedrus are the same person. The narrator refers to Phaedrus as “he” and “him” rather than “I”, which shows that although the narrator knows that Phaedrus is who he used to be, he is still not completely grasping reality. This stage of grief is caused not only by the gaps in his memory, it is also a result of the narrator’s unwanted association with Phaedrus’ traits. The narrator desires to rid of Phaedrus’ haunting presence permanently and admits to this motive when he states, “The purpose of the enlargement is not to argue for him, certainly not to praise him. The purpose is to bury him-- forever” (Pirsig…show more content…
Shep Jeffreys, the author refers to Doctor John Bowlby’s Basic Phases of Loss and Mourning. Bowlby’s first phase of loss and mourning is “Protest of the loss, and attempts to recover what was lost” (Jeffreys 45). The narrator in Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is recovering memories that belonged to Phaedrus and desires to remember more about him despite the fact that he is fearful, considering his knowledge of Phaedrus inflicting emotional pain on his family. It is possible that he does not speak about his regained memories due to the fact that he does not wish to hurt his family again, thus, he keeps these memories hidden. The narrator may feel as though he has no other choice but to isolate himself considering that although he desires to understand who he used to be, he knows that it is not in the best interest of his family. By not telling anyone that memories have come back to him, the narrator will complicate his grieving process. Rather than focusing on his present life, the narrator dedicates a substantial amount of his time to analyzing Phaedrus’ life, and beliefs that he had. Jeffreys states that “Old, unresolved loss will complicate the grieving process . . . . The learned personal style of dealing with life issues . . . will influence how much and how long the person grieves” (Jeffreys 42) The narrator isolates himself and attempts to deal with his issues mentally rather than
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