"Take it easy, kid," he says, pressing down on my chest to calm me. "I've got you." (1.15)
The language Denny uses here to describe Enzo, emphasizes how much he thinks of Enzo as not only a part of his family, but as a child. Denny, more than anyone else, raised Enzo. He's Denny's doggy son.
The life that Eve had inside her was something she had made, She and Denny had made it together. I wished, at the time, that the baby would look like me. (6.9)
By saying that he wishes that the baby looked more like him, Enzo reveals his wish to integrate himself into the family better, to connect to the family that Denny and Eve are building together—and that Enzo might fear they are building without him.
Soon after [Eve] moved into our apartment, they were married in a small wedding ceremony, which I attended along with a group of their closest friends and Eve's immediate family. (6.3)
Denny's idea of family is something small and close-knit. There are some complicated reasons for Denny's thinking—his idea of family is certainly different from Eve's—but is there one right definition of family?
It was loud and crazy and all the children let me play with them and wrestle on the rug, and I let them dress me up with a hat and a sweat jacket and Zoë called me her big brother. (7.19)
The turning point here is that Zoë, the cause of Enzo's initial worry that he might never be loved as much as the unborn child, already loves Enzo so much that it's clear he never even needed to worry about anything in the first place. Enzo probably makes a fantastic big brother.
And while I greatly resented the attention Eve lavished on her unborn baby, I realized I had never given her a reason to lavish that same attention on me. Perhaps that is my regret: I loved how she was when she was pregnant, and yet I knew I could never be the source of her affection in that way because I could never be her child. (6.6)
Enzo desires to connect to Eve as she connects to her unborn baby. Well, okay, but unless he can figure out how to reverse-engineer the miracle of life, he's going to have to be content with being her pet.
But many others were, all of whom were relatives of some kind or another. We were only there, I overheard, because Eve had thought it was very important for Zoë to spend time with these people, since she, Eve, someone said, would die very soon. (25.1)
Zoë doesn't seem to have any connection to these people, but because of social conventions and blood relations, she's mandated to at least meet them before her mother dies. Sure, if that's necessary. But does that really make them family?
I could see that Denny was stuck. He had agreed to have Eve stay with Maxwell and Trish, and now they wanted Zoë, too. If he objected, he would be keeping a mother and a daughter apart. If he accepted their proposal, he would be pushed to the periphery; he would become an outsider in his own family. (23.45)
Just as Denny's conception of family is small, so is Maxwell and Trish's, and we've seen time and again that they don't believe he has a place in what they consider their family. As we've said before, it's because they're jerks.
The barking of coyotes, my brethren, calling each other to the hunt. (25.4)
Even though Enzo knows he is part of the Swift family, he also acknowledges that the he is still a canine, and as such, he is related to the wilder animals of the night and the forest.
Always pushing the extremes. Finding himself broke. And finding himself on the telephone with his blind mother, asking her for some kind of help, any kind of help, so that he could keep his daughter; and her response that she would give him everything if only she could meet her grandchild. (55.3)
Sometimes families are estranged: just look at Denny and his parents, for example. But real family, the family that is dependable and steadfast despite differences and time, will drop everything to help if they're able. Where his parents were when Denny stubbed his toe that one time, we'll never know, but they pulled through in the end.
I can hear Denny in the kitchen. I can smell what he's doing; he's cooking breakfast, something he used to all the time when we were a family, when Eve was with us and Zoë. For a long time they have been gone, and Denny has eaten cereal. (58.2)
Just as family can give you everything you ever needed or wanted, the absence of family can also take everything away from you and leave you without the will to take care of yourself or even muster up enough strength to care about anything. Or maybe Denny's just been reverting to bachelor status?
"You don't mind if I love him too, do you? I won't come between you." I respected her for asking, but I knew that she would come between us, so I found her preemptive denial to be disingenuous. (4.4-5)
This is the first time we see Enzo grappling with the fact that his life is going to change—and the fact that he has no way of controlling how other people's decisions impact him. It's also the beginning of a clear, albeit brief, turf war between Eve and Enzo. (Don't tell, but our money was on the dog.)
"Will you promise to always protect her?" [Eve] asked. She wasn't asking me. She was asking Denny, and I was merely Denny's surrogate. Still, I felt the obligation. I understood that, as a dog, I could never be as interactive with humanity as I truly desired. Yet, I realized at that moment, I could be something else. I could comfort Eve when Denny was away. I could protect Eve's baby. (6.20-1)
This moment between Eve and Enzo is about two things. First, Eve might be suggesting that she won't always be around to protect her daughter, so she's asking Enzo, and by proxy, Denny, to do it for her. Second, Enzo steps up to the plate here, realizing that while he can't take control of being human, he can take control of his own life, in whatever small way he can, and do what Eve asks of him.
From the moment they arrived, the Twins had been admonishing Eve for having her baby at home. They told her she was endangering her baby's welfare and that in these modern times, it was irresponsible to have a baby anywhere but in the most prestigious of all hospitals with the most expensive of all doctors. (6.26)
Here Eve's parents, in a dynamic feat of time travelling, try to control a situation that has already transpired. They fail because they can't time travel, but they certainly want Eve to know how they would have done things differently and how her decision, which ended up working out in the end, anyway, was completely wrong.
"[Zoë] came early. You can't know what's going to happen before it happens."
"Yes I can," Denny said, "If I am any good, I can." (6.34-5)
If you think this is a little Yoda-trippy, that's because it is. Denny is trying to apply the rules by which he lives his racing career to his life, which is all very well and good when it makes him a prepared, focused person, but not good when he beats himself up for missing his daughter's birth or feels responsible for his wife's death. There are some things we can't control, Denny. Like whether they'll ever make a live-action reboot of The Lion King.
"My daughter, with a mechanic—no, with a customer service technician. Where did we go wrong?"
"She's always made her own choices," Trish said.
"But at least her choices made sense. She majored in art history…She ends up with him?" (15.21-3)
Aside from showing how judgmental Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Jerk Face are, this also indicates how much they want to push their own perspective of what is "good" for their daughter onto her. Maybe they just need to butt out, eat some demon peppers, and leave Eve alone.
Your car goes where your eyes go. (17.1)
This is the most repeated quote in the book, next to "That which you manifest is before you"—and they basically mean the same thing. You are in control of where you go, even if you don't know it, and you take yourself toward what you set out for yourself. Maybe it's not the most optimistic way to look at the world—but in some cases it may be. If you see yourself into a bad situation, you can see yourself out of it.
"Get me through tonight," she said. "That's all I need. Protect me. Don't let it happen tonight. Enzo, please. You're the only one who can help." (23.109)
This is another instance when Eve relinquishes control of her own life to someone else, once again Enzo. She asks him to watch over her because she's too afraid to fall asleep and succumb to the terror that's lurking for her in the night. Fortunately, Enzo makes an excellent guard dog, just not against demon zebras.
"Sometimes bad things happen," [Zoë] said to herself. "Sometimes things change. And we have to change too." (27.9)
This seems like a pretty deep to be coming out of the mouth of a five-year-old, and like Enzo, we suspect that someone told Zoë this to help her grapple with the terrible news of her mother's illness and its aftermath.
Denny looked at me and held his hands out in front of himself. They were shaking. Denny didn't say anything, but he looked at his hands trembling and then he looked at me and I knew what he was thinking. He was thinking that if he just had a steering wheel to hold onto, his hands wouldn't shake. If he had a steering wheel to hold onto, everything would be alright. (31.80)
We think a steering wheel is Denny's solution to a security blanket, mostly because it represents a sense of control over his direction and destination. Who could blame the guy for wanting a little bit of control in a situation like this?
"No one could force Eve to do anything Eve didn't want to do," Denny said. "I certainly couldn't." (29.104)
This interaction that Denny has with Maxwell and Trish after Eve's death shows that Eve has always been in charge of making her own decisions, especially those decisions related to her health. We see her time and again realizing that something's wrong with her but refusing to seek help. This decision was a way for her to take control of her life, even if that decision leads to her death.
I also believe man's continued domestication (if you care to use that silly euphemism) of dogs is motivated by fear; fear that dogs, left to evolve on their own, would in fact, develop thumbs and smaller tongues, and therefore would be superior to men, who are slow and cumbersome, standing erect as they do. (5.10)
Conspiracy theories about the domestication of dogs aside, Enzo does touch on a good, if embarrassing, point about humanity: on the whole, we tend to be a little leery of things we don't understand. As history will tell us, our track record for embracing new things isn't stellar. Unless it's food, because you can slap a new recipe on Pinterest, and we'll love it on principle.
I am very ready to be a man now, though I realize I will lose all that I have been. All of my memories, all of my experiences. I would like to take them with me into my next life—there is so much I have gone through with the Swift family—but I have little to say in the matter. What can I do but force myself to remember? Try to imprint what I know on my soul, a thing that has no surface, no sides, no pages, no form of any kind. Carry it so deeply in the pockets of my existence that when I open my eyes and look down at my new hands with their thumbs that are able to close tightly around their fingers, I will already know. I will already see. (1.4)
Enzo's belief that humanity isn't just about being human, but also knowing what it means to be a good human, is apparent here, and it's a topic that he comes back to throughout his story. In our opinion, some people could learn from this dog about how to be people.
I work at my human gait, for instance. I practice chewing my food slowly like people do. I study the television for clues on behavior and to learn how to react to certain situations. In my next life, when I am born again as a person, I will practically be an adult the moment I am plucked from the womb, with all the preparation I have done. (12.4)
This notion that being a human is something you can prepare for is repeated often, but it seems like when Enzo says he prepares, he's focusing more on what he thinks humans are, rather than what they actually are.
Here is why I would be a good person. Because I listen. I cannot speak, so I listen very well. I never interrupt, I never deflect the course of conversation with a comment of my own…Learn to listen! I beg of you. (19.12)
Okay, he's got us here. Listening is a good skill to have, and it does make for better communication. In fact, that reminds us of a story when we were—oops, never mind.
So much of language is unspoken. So much of language is comprised of looks and gestures and sounds that are not words. People are ignorant of the vast complexity of their own communication. (23.37)
Enzo makes another valid point here: being a human is one thing, but understanding how to converse as a human is another. There are so many variables: the words themselves, tones, gestures, facial expressions, all of which work together to convey a message. And don't even get us started on shared inside jokes, references, or sound effects, because we'd be here all night trying to explain it.
I marveled at them both; how difficult it must be to be a person. To constantly subvert your desires. To worry about doing the right thing, rather than doing what you is most expedient. (23.68)
Enzo realizes that sometimes being a human means needing to put other people's needs before your own, and he wonders whether he can handle it. That is one big thing that makes humans human—and not all humans are able to do it.
I missed Eve so much I couldn't be a human anymore and feel the pain that humans feel. I had to be an animal again. (28.10)
To Enzo's mind, humanity also comes at a cost. When he learns of Eve's death, the price is too high for him, and he reverts back to what he calls his baser animal instincts to escape it. Turning off bad feelings sounds like a pretty sweet deal, but do you have to eat a squirrel to do it?
We are all afforded our physical existence so we can learn about ourselves. (38.25)
Enzo's right: self-exploration, self-identification, and understanding are keys to what it means to be human, to think like a human. If Enzo can trot out philosophical stuff like this, he's well on his way to being a human himself.
And I wonder: have I squandered my dogness? Have I forsaken my nature for my desires? Have I made a mistake by anticipating my future and shunning my present? (58.42)
This is how, it seems, we can tell Enzo is ready to be a person: self-doubt and the fear of wasting time, or of losing or missing out, are common human insecurities. He's nailing them here.
When I return to this world, I will be a man. I will walk among you; I will lick my lips with my small, dexterous tongue. I will shake hands with other men, grasping firmly with my opposable thumbs. And I will teach people all that I know. And when I see a man or a woman or a child in trouble, I will extend my hand, both metaphorically and physically. I will offer my hand. To him. To her. To you. To the world. I will be a good citizen, a good partner in the endeavor of life we all share. (58.13)
If Enzo has learned anything about being a human, it's that humans, while sometimes capable of selfishness and cruelty, are also capable of incredible compassion, understanding, and love. We'd like to think we taught him everything he knows.
He is so brilliant. He shines. He's beautiful with his hands that grab things and his tongue that says things and the way he stands and chews his food for so long, mashing it into a paste before he swallows. I will miss him and little Zoë, and I know they will miss me. (1.20)
Enzo's reflection on Denny is full of the purest, most selfless love that it basically makes us want to cry. We can hear how much he loves Denny just from the way he describes him, and he wants Denny to let him go so Denny can live his life.
"I love you," she said. "I love all of you, even your racing. And I know on some level that you are completely right about all of this. I just don't think I could ever do it myself." (8.38)
This is why Eve and Denny's relationship works. They love and understand each other without trying to change each other. And sometimes, when they don't understand each other, they accept that without trying to force an explanation from the other. #relationshipgoals
I had always wanted to love Eve as Denny loved her, but I never had because was afraid. (8.49)
Enzo's desire to protect Denny and keep him for himself made him both envious and afraid of Eve, but all it took was Enzo to show Eve a bit of love for her to love him back.
Denny did not stop loving Eve, he merely delegated his love-giving to me. I became the provider of love and comfort by proxy. (12.9)
Denny is sensitive of Eve's needs, and he knows that in some ways he is helpless when her illness takes her, so he asks Enzo to act as intermediary, because it's all he can do. It's back to that theme of control: understanding when you can and can't act, and doing what you can in the meantime.
"I don't care what you look like," [Denny] said. "I see you. I see who you really are."
"I care what I look like," she said, trying to muster her old Eve smile. "When I look at you, I see my reflection in your eyes. I don't want to be ugly in front of you." (23.82-83)
This is another moment where it's Denny's turn to respect Eve's wishes, even though he doesn't understand them. So he goes home, leaving Enzo and Zoë with Eve, because he loves her.
"You!" [Annika] wailed, and started crying. "You flirted with me all week. You teased me. You kissed me."
"I kissed you on the cheek," Denny said. "It's normal for relatives to kiss on the cheek. It's called affection, not love." (25.73-74)
It's clear that Annika and Denny have very different interpretations of what's going on here, but that's understandable, given their age difference and their different perspectives on love. Denny, who has a wife and a daughter and has experienced adult love, knows that he doesn't love Annika and probably didn't intentionally egg her on. Annika, who's fifteen and presumably hasn't been in a serious relationship before, is experiencing what she believes to be love for the first time. Sparks certainly aren't flying here.
"I made them love me too much," Zoë said softly, looking into her bowl of melted ice cream. "I should have been bad. I should have made them not want to keep me." (40.29)
Although Zoë doesn't understand the entirety of the situation, she does know that her grandparents and father are fighting over her, and she's able to pull from that, to some degree, that the situation is her fault, even though Denny has done his best to protect her from the reality of the situation. Poor kid.
They stayed with us for three days, and they hardly left the apartment. For the afternoon on one of those days, Denny retrieved Zoë, who was so pretty with her hair in ribbons and a nice dress, and who had obviously been coached by Denny, as she willingly sat for quite a long time on the couch and allowed Denny's mother to explore the terrain of her face with her hands. Tears ran down Denny's mother's cheeks during the entire encounter, raindrops spotting Zoë's flower-print dress. (53.2)
This is an intimate moment for the Swift family. Denny's parents, who haven't met Zoë before this, fall in love with her instantly—and unlike Eve's parents, they offer Denny anything they can to help him keep her. Because they're nice people.
"We never did right by you," his father said. "We never did right. This makes it right." (53.20)
Even though Denny's parents weren't present for a lot of his life, it's clear that they didn't stop caring about him and clearly regret their absence from his life. We're sure he appreciates the boon to his finances, but sending him a birthday card or something once a year wouldn't have hurt, either.
"I love you, boy." (58.56)
This is one of the last things that Denny says to Enzo during his last minutes on earth, before he lets Enzo know that it's okay for him to go, to be free from his life and his dog body and his pain. It's the simplest proclamation of love in the book, and the most bittersweet. No, we're not crying. You're crying. Now hand us that tissue box.
And she roused Zoë and stuffed her little kid feet into her little-kid sneakers and—bang—the door slammed shut and—snick snick—the deadbolt was thrown and they were gone. And I wasn't gone. I was there. I was still there. (9.20)
This is the sense of loss that you feel when you leave a loved one behind. Enough said.
"I promise I'll come back in one piece," Denny said. She shook her head, which was still pressed against his body. "I don't care how many pieces," she said. "Just promise you'll come back." (14.15-17)
In this instance, it's not the distance that Denny is traveling that Eve is worried about—she's worried that she won't be able to keep the illness at bay when he's gone, and that she doesn't know how to fend for herself, taking care of a child and a dog alone, while also suffering this sporadic, crippling pain. She needs Denny, but she also promised she would be oaky if he left. So she has to keep that promise.
It all felt wrong. The absence of Eve and Zoë was wrong. There was something missing to everything we did. (20.5)
Here Denny and Enzo notice the absence of Eve and Zoë in everything they do, so much so that their entire lives feel off balance, since the space and distance between them is overwhelming.
Some belief that the center of our family could not be fractured by a chance occurrence, an accidental washing, an unexpected illness. Deep in the kernel of our family existed a bond; Denny, Zoë, Eve, me, and even my stuffed dog. However things might change around us, we would always be together. (19.54)
Enzo's uplifting and positive attitude is admirable here and also hits upon that emotional closeness we were talking about, something that can be used to combat physical distance. Basically, family > distance.
Six months came and six months went and Eve was still alive. Then seven months. Then eight. (27.1)
In this instance, space and time constrict to show overlapping months when Eve's absence passes in a blur of distilled time that doesn't need to be detailed. The glossing over of the six months without Eve hints at the fact that they either barely need mentioning, from Enzo's perspective. They're monotonous. There's no need to describe the lonely, angry pain any more than he already has.
Oh the joy! Denny and me and our BMW, driving all day and into the evening like a couple of banditos running from the law, like partners in crime. It had to be a crime to lead such a life as we led, a life in which one could escape one's troubles by racing cars! (26.3)
Enzo toys with the idea that you can outrun your problems, that distance and the speed of movement itself is a kind of freedom. Well, that's all very well and good, but no matter how much we've tried, we've never outrun our problems for very long.
I am not a dog who runs away from things. I had never run away from Denny before that moment, and I have never run away since. But in that moment, I had to run. (28.7)
Right after hearing news of Eve's death, Enzo takes to his doggy paws and bolts, running as far and as fast as he can. His decision to run creates the dual impression that he's running to do something and also trying to out-run his pain.
"No," Denny replied, and then, aware of his abruptness, attempted to explain. "I don't feel like company right now." (35.9)
Sometimes loneliness can be inflicted upon us, and sometimes we inflict it on ourselves, even if it's the last thing we want at the moment. Denny seems to use his self-imposed loneliness to think through things, to come to grips with his reality, and to form a plan for moving forward.
How did Denny sustain himself for the duration of his ordeal? Here's how: He had a secret. His daughter was better and quicker and smarter than he was. And while the Evil Twins may have restricted his ability to see her, when he was allowed to see her, he received all the energy he needed to maintain his focus. (42.24)
Even though distance keep Denny and Zoë apart, the time that they spend together is enough to rejuvenate them both; the novel stresses the importance of the time, however small, we spend together.
Faster, the wind presses against my face as I run, faster. I feel my heart beating wildly and I bark twice to tell him, to tell everyone in the world, to say faster! I bark twice so he knows, so he remembers. What I want now is what I've always wanted. One more lap, Denny! One more lap! Faster! (58.63-64)
Enzo visualizes distance as a metaphor for death, which he runs to, as quickly and freely as he can. Huh, and we thought we'd be all out of tears by now.
When Denny was away and Eve fed me and she leaned down to give me my bowl of food and my nose was near her head, I had detected a bad odor, like rotting wood, mushrooms, decay. Wet, soggy, decay. It came from her ears and her sinuses. There was something inside Eve's head that didn't belong. (7.24)
This is some clear-cut foreshadowing, right? Usually, "decay" isn't a word that comes up naturally when describing someone's odor. Unless this smell is just a new perfume Eve bought that Enzo really hates? Yeah, probably not.
But, as with all things, there were repercussions: since that time, my nightmares have always contained angry crows. A murder of them. (13.15-16)
As an omen, the fact that Enzo brings up crows right after talking about Eve's worsening conditioning also seems like some pretty obvious foreshadowing to us. We also wonder whether it's a coincidence that angry crows and ravens, omens of death, are specifically mentioned in Chapter 13? Not that we're superstitious, or anything.
[Zoë] unfolded a dishcloth that she'd brought from the house. In the dishcloth were scissors, a Sharpie pen, and masking tape. She pulled off the doll's head. She took the kitchen scissors and cut off Barbie's hair, down to the plastic nub. She then drew a line on the doll's skull, all the while whispering softy, "Everything's going to be okay."
When she was done, she tore off a piece of masking tape and put in on the doll's head. She pressed the head back onto the neck stub and laid the doll down. We both stared at it. A moment of silence.
"Now she can go to heaven," Zoë said to me. "And I'll live with Grandma and Grandpa." (21.5-7)
As far as grappling with the illness of a parent goes, maybe this isn't the healthiest way to do it. But it does allow us a peek into Zoë's mindset and see how her grandparents seem to be teaching her to start accepting and even coping with her mother's death.
"Until what?" Denny demanded. I could hear the irritation in his voice. "How do you know what's going to happen? You're condemning her to something before you even know."
"Please, Denny. We have to face the reality of it. The doctor said six to eight months. He was quite definite." (23.38-40)
This interaction shows Trish and Maxwell's opinion of Eve's diagnosis, as opposed to Denny's. Denny, who doesn't give up for anything, isn't willing to sell Eve out to her diagnosis, while Maxwell and Trish are preparing for the reality of it.
"Today is the first day I am not dead," Eve said, "And we're having a party." (27.12)
It's important that Eve says that she "is not dead," not that "she doesn't feel dead." It could mean that she has felt dead up until this point, and now that she knows she will die, she isn't dead, because death isn't the end. That seems ironic—and really sad.
I was on that squirrel and it had no chance. I was ruthless. My jaws slapped down on it, cracking its back, my teeth ripped into its fur and I shook it to death after that, for good measure, I shook it until I heard its neck snap in two. (28.10)
Obligatory yuck aside, this is a scene of death that's meant to alleviate the pain of another death. Enzo doesn't know how to react to the news of Eve's death, so he does the first thing that comes to mind, which is apparently to kill and eat a squirrel.
I thought of Eve and how quickly she embraced her death once the people around her agreed to it; I considered the foretelling of my own end, which was to be full of suffering and pain, as death is believed to be by most of the world, and I tried to look away. (37.16)
The parallels Enzo draws between his own impending death and Eve's death brings together ideas about death and control. After receiving his diagnosis, Enzo wonders if he's strong enough to choose a different path for himself, to take control despite this news. Since he can't drive, taking a different path might be a problem. It's not like they're going to give a dog a driver's license, right?
When they were all gone, we walked down the hill and we stood before the mound of dirt and we cried. We kneeled and we cried and we grabbed handfuls of the dirt, the mound, and we felt the last bit of her, the last part of her that we could feel, and we cried. (36.63)
This is a cathartic moment for Denny and Enzo, because up until this moment, they've been so caught up in the custody battle and the rape charges and the entanglement with lawyers that Eve's death has faded to the background. Here, they get to cry out with their pain, their frustration, and their loss.
I don't want Denny to worry about me. I don't want to force him to take me on a one-way visit to the vet. He loves me so much. The worst thing I could possibly do to Denny is make him hurt me. (58.11)
Enzo is proving his own selflessness here by indicating his desire to make his own death as easy as possible for Denny, since he's already been through so much.
"Don't you see?" [Eve] asked. "I'm not afraid of it anymore. I wanted you with me before because I wanted you to protect me, but I'm not afraid of it anymore. Because it's not the end." (27.22)
This is Eve coming to terms with the final stages of her illness. She's accepting her death and looking ahead to it with a clear conscience and a brave face. Enzo remembers this and thinks Eve's incredibly brave for being able to go through it this way.
When it was just Denny and me, he used to make up to ten thousand dollars a month just by calling people on the telephone, like the commercial said. But after Eve became pregnant, he took his job behind the counter of the auto shop that serviced only expensive German cars. (7.1)
It sounds like Denny's old job was clearly raking in the big bucks. Coupled with his personality and his cute dog, it's no wonder Eve thought he was a keeper.
"What is he contributing to your family? You make all the money!"
"He's my husband and he's Zoë's father, and I love him. What else does he need to contribute to our family?" (15.11-12)
Great burn, Eve. You tell 'em. We would like to be more analytical here, but really, we're just impressed that Eve is so levelheaded even though her parents are callous jerks.
Maxwell and Trish, the Twins, lived in a very fancy house on a large parcel of wooded land on Mercer Island, with an amazing view of Lake Washington and Seattle. And for having such a beautiful place to live, they were among the most unhappy people I've ever met. (15.2)
It's not surprising that despite the Twins flaunting their social status and financial stability, they're unhappy, since they find fault in everything. They live in a McMansion, and they're still unhappy. What do they want? Oh, wait, we know this. They want custody of Zoë.
Denny looked down at his shoes, the same old three-quarter boots he liked to hike in; he wanted a new pair, I knew because he told me, but he didn't want to spend the money he said, and I think he held out hope that someone would get him a pair for his birthday or Christmas or something. But no one ever did. (19.34)
Denny's frugality regarding himself translates to generosity for his family. It indicates a certain amount of selflessness, because he doesn't want to go out of his way to spend money on himself when what he has is fine, though he also knows that new boots aren't as necessary as groceries.
"Do I have a lawyer?" [Denny] said to himself. "I work at the most prestigious BMW and Mercedes service center in Seattle. Who does he think he's dealing with? I have a good relationship with all the best lawyers in this town. And I have their home phone numbers." (29.121)
Sometimes money isn't as important as social standing, and in this case, Denny can use his job to his advantage by maintaining a good relationship with the lawyers who have the fancy cars he maintains. Sneaky move, Denny, but we like it. Sometimes connections can get you everywhere.
I understood, ultimately, that the court case earlier in the day was not Denny's criminal trial, but a custody hearing, a hearing that had been delayed over and over, put off for months because the lawyers were going to their houses on Lopez Island with their own families and the judge was going to Cle Elum to his ranch. I felt betrayed; I knew that those people, those officials of the court, had no clue as to the feelings I had witnessed that night at the dinner table. (40.43)
This serves as both an emotional disconnect and a financial one. It shows us that while Denny and Zoë and Enzo are down in the trenches dealing with their problems, the ones making the decisions about their lives are so far removed from the situation that, to Enzo's mind, they seem totally oblivious to it. It's okay, Enzo. We hear Lopez Island doesn't even have Jennifer Lopez living on it, so it's clearly overrated.
"Denny paid his account with Mark Fein. Shortly afterward, Mark Fein was appointed to be a circuit judge, something about which I know little, except that it is a lifetime appointment, it is very prestigious, and it is not refusable." (45.1)
So long, Mark Fein. We hardly knew you. There may be honor among thieves, but there's no honor among lawyers—at least this lawyer.
"You would be provided with an apartment for you and your daughter. And of course, a company car—a Fiat—as part of your compensation package." (50.59)
When Luca shows up, it's like Christmas. It's also interesting to note that for all the financial trouble he's in, Denny doesn't even ask about the salary when Luca first tells him about the job, even though with all the benefits, the money has to be good. The job is what interests him the most because he'll be getting paid to do what he was born to do.
I learned that his parents had not paid for his testing program in France, as Denny had claimed; he paid for that with a home equity loan I learned that his parents had not contributed to the sponsorship of the touring car season, as Denny had said; he paid for that with a second mortgage, which Eve had encouraged. (55.2)
Although Denny's social standing and financial stability is evident throughout the book, he always presents himself as someone who has everything under control. Enzo, for one, never knew where some of this money came from, which show us that Denny is more of a private person than we thought—and that his parents had been less of an influence in his life than we'd imagined. Seriously, we thought they weren't even real until we got to Chapter 52.
[Mike and Tony] didn't live far from us. Their house was small but represented a different level of income; Tony had stood in the right place at the right time, Denny said, and would never have to worry about money again. Such is life. Such is manifesting. (49.2)
Mike and Tony—unlike the Twins, who seem to throw their money around and invest in grand expenditures—live comfortably and securely. This also makes them seem like nicer people, since they don't rub their financial status in anyone's face.
"She likes the nuggets, she's just doing this because you're here. I'm not making her a new dinner every time she decides she doesn't like something." (14.54)
Eve's anger toward Denny and Zoë is less about Zoë's behavior toward her dinner and more about her anger toward Denny. Even's begun to feel ill here, and her fear of taking care of Zoë by herself makes her feel like Denny is undermining her parenting decisions. Simply asking Zoë why she didn't want her dinner would have probably made this whole thing avoidable, but hey, hindsight is 20/20.
Since that time I have been wary of trying new foods that might upset my system, and I have never accepted food from someone I didn't fully trust. (15.30)
Enzo's distrust of taking food from strangers stems from his experience with Maxwell's hot peppers. We don't blame him—those things sound really unpleasant to eat.
[Denny] opened a package of peanut butter sandwich crackers he must have gotten from a vending machine. I love those crackers the best. It's the salt and the butter in the crackers mixed with the fat in the peanuts. I tried to eat slowly, savoring each bite, but I was too hungry and swallowed them so quickly I barely got to taste them. What a shame to waste something so wonderful on a dog. Sometimes I hate what I am so much. (19.3)
Enzo's love of people food helps him feel like more of a person here, but it's in this moment of enjoyment that he has to step back and assess what he really is—and it upsets him. We're reminded that Enzo sometimes feels trapped in his own skin, and he wants more than anything to be what he can't become. On that note, is anyone else craving peanut butter sandwich crackers now?
[Denny] took such care with [Zoë's] peanut butter and banana sandwiches, slicing the banana so that each slice was exactly the same thickness. (24.6)
Again, here we see Denny catering to his daughter's needs and making sure that the food he makes her matches her preferences. His attention to small details like this shows how much he loves his daughter and how he'll always go the extra mile for her. It also explains his tenacity with the lawsuit: if Denny is focused and driven enough to painstakingly cut a banana, he's also focused and driven enough to slog through a three-year custody battle. A+ parenting, Denny.
The group meal was convivial, and though I was determined to remain aloof, one of the cousins was always willing to slip me a treat at mealtime. And no one ever kicked me out from under the very large dining table where I lingered during dinner, even though I was breaking my own personal code; a certain sense of lawlessness pervaded the house…Why shouldn't I have partaken in the debauchery? (25.3)
When Denny, Enzo, and Zoë visit Eve's extended family up in Methow Valley, it seems like everyone's personal codes are on hiatus, not just Enzo's. We're looking at you, Annika.
I devoured the squirrel. I had to do it. I missed Eve so much I couldn't be a human anymore and feel the pain that humans feel. I had to be an animal again…I ate the squirrel for Eve. (28.10)
Enzo's disconnect from his "human" thoughts and actions indicates that his pain has engulfed him so thoroughly he can't think straight.
I followed him into the kitchen, for a moment concerned that he had lied to Mike and Tony and that perhaps we did have a gas oven after all. But he didn't go to the oven, he went to the cupboard and took out a glass. Then he reached into where he kept the liquor and took out a bottle. He poured a drink. It was absurd. Depressed, stresses, hands shaking, and now he was going to get himself drunk? I couldn't stand for it. I barked sharply at him. (35.27-8)
This is the first time we see Denny actually hit rock bottom and resort to something drastic as a sign of his grief. Really, who could blame him? He's lost his wife, he's embroiled in a custody battle for his daughter, and now he's just had a rape charge slapped on him. It's a lot to deal with. Even so, Enzo's right. It's too much of a pathetic cliché for us, too.
They were now the Evil Twins. Evil, horrible, dastardly people who stuffed themselves with burning hot peppers in order to fuel the bile in their stomachs. (39.32)
Enzo's assessment of Maxwell and Trish made us picture them with twirling mustaches in a kitchen full of flames. Maybe the zebra they bought Zoë really was demonic, after all…
"Your wife cooked a delightful dinner," Luca said. "I remember it still. Please accept my sincere and heartfelt condolences." (50.11)
During Luca's first interaction with Denny, he tells him that he remembers Eve's cooking. It's a small gesture, but it's part of a bigger picture. Later, Luca reaches out to Denny because he also lost his wife and was given the opportunity that he now wants to present to Denny. So it's the small act of honoring Eve's memory through this comment that gives us a hint into Luca's thinking: it's a big reason why he has chosen Denny as his mentee. It also shows that Luca's just an all-around nice guy. We knew we liked him.
[Denny] was baking cookies last night in anticipation of Zoë's return, making the batter from scratch like he used to do, when the phone rang. (57.3)
Finally, someone in this book is happy, and there's a moment of light, uninterrupted joy. We thought we'd never see that again. Plus, there's reference to cookies, which is bound to make anyone happy.