Symbolism In The Art Of Racing In The Rain

1280 Words6 Pages

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein features the use of symbolism in the form of a zebra. Symbolism is the application of a concrete object to represent an abstract idea or feeling, in this case being a zebra (whether it be plush or within a pen) representing the worst in all of us in our worst of times. This is shown throughout the story, all the way from the hallucination that Enzo experiences from food deprivation, to Annika’s assault on Denny, to Denny’s reluctant agreement to Trish and Maxwell’s custody settlement. To begin, the zebra is introduced as a beloved stuffed animal of Denny’s daughter, Zoё, which was given to her by her paternal grandparents. Despite its seemingly strange inclusion at first glance, this striped playmate …show more content…

After more than ten hours of strenuous, blizzard-filled driving, Denny, Zoё, Enzo, and Annika finally arrive at Denny’s home in Seattle from the north-central Washington cabin owned by Eve’s relatives. Having invited herself to stay the night at Denny’s house (much to Denny’s bewilderment), Annika takes a shower while Denny puts Zoё to bed, changes his clothes, grabs a beer, and eventually succumbs to his exhaustion with Enzo deciding to join him. However, mere moments later, Enzo awakes to find Annika wearing a bathrobe while standing over and watching Denny as he sleeps. Advancing herself onto him, she unclothes herself and attempts to do the same for Denny, as he is still more than half-asleep and unable to grasp what is truly happening. As she continues, she tries to drive Enzo away and enraged, he claims that “the zebra keeps dancing”. This is of course a reference to the stuffed zebra incident mentioned earlier and how the plush sexually assaulted the helpless toys of Zoё and, much like the zebra, Annika decides to take advantage of a vulnerable Denny when he is barely even conscious enough to realize the gravity of the situation (much less defend himself from it). The zebra symbolism goes even further when one thinks about Annika as a character. She’s only fifteen, and as stated by Enzo, is a “girl-not-yet-a-woman”. This girl is unable to …show more content…

After having his financial situation reduced to almost nothing through the child support payments and other legal court fees, Denny now finds that there’s no way that he could possibly win the custody case. Almost giving up his fight for his daughter, he is presented with a settlement that provides an increased visitation schedule, an end to the child support payments, the opportunity for Zoë to receive a private education and have her college paid for, as well as having Annika's suit be settled with only harassment and probation charges. Despite meaning that he’ll lose custody of his daughter, it’s a tempting and “smart” compromise that he’s prepared to sign, and with a nice souvenir pen from the Woodland Park Zoo to boot. However, this pen has, as expected, a zebra on it, and noticing this, Enzo has an epiphany over the striped animal’s actual meaning.“The worst part of us when we are face-to-face with our worst times”. This especially rings true for this moment as, much like Enzo exclaims, it isn’t Denny who is signing the settlement, but the zebra. The Denny who is endlessly persistent on the track as well as in life and who would do anything for his family would “never give up his daughter for a few weeks of summer vacation and an exemption from child support payments”.

More about Symbolism In The Art Of Racing In The Rain

Open Document