Study Guide

The Art of Racing in the Rain Travel, Separation, and Distance

By Garth Stein

Travel, Separation, and Distance

Chapters 6-10

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.

Chapter 11-15
Dennis (Denny) Swift

"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.

Chapters 16-20

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.

Chapters 26-30

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.

Chapters 31-35
Dennis (Denny) Swift

"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.

Chapters 41-45

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.

Chapters 56-59

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.