Study Guide

The Art of Racing in the Rain Chapters 1-5

By Garth Stein

Chapters 1-5

  • Our main man—er, dog—Enzo assesses his life at the end of it. He wants to show Denny that it's time for him to let him go.
  • We recommend that page 1 is a great place to start crying.
  • Enzo's an old dog—he knows he is—and he doesn't want to prolong his life to the point of humiliation, even though he knows Denny would do anything to take care of him.
  • It would be a lot of care, though, because Enzo isn't a healthy dog. He has stiff joints that swell, and he has trouble walking. Still, he knows Denny would take care of him even until there's nothing left.
  • Enzo doesn't want that, because he knows he will become a human in his next life, a theory based on a documentary he saw about dogs in Mongolia who are buried in the side of a mountain so that they can be human in their next lives.
  • Enzo knows his soul is human, and he's waiting for the time when his body will also be human.
  • In fact, he has spent his entire life preparing for exactly that.
  • Enzo's resting at home when Denny returns. Denny finds that Enzo has peed on the floor.
  • Enzo has planned the scene this way—maybe he'll major in theater in his next life?—to show Denny that it's time for him to let him go.
  • If you haven't started crying on page 1, may we also recommend pages 2-8?
  • As Denny cleans up Enzo's mess, and Enzo realizes that he has miscommunicated his meaning to Denny.
  • Denny thinks that Enzo has had an accident because he was late, not because Enzo meant to show him how old he really is.
  • Enzo feels terrible for this, but he knows that it's hard for him to communicate when he can't speak.
  • Come on, the dog can't even write the words in his dog food? What a slacker.
  • Enzo thinks about how much he loves Denny, and about how sad he is that he's such an old dog. He hopes he won't hold Denny back from his future.
  • After Denny finishes cleaning up after Enzo, he puts on a tape of racing for him, which is one of Enzo's favorite things.
  • Denny has grown Enzo up on racing videos, and Enzo knows that Denny, who is a professional racer, could be as good as the professionals on the tapes if he were given the opportunity…And if Enzo weren't around to hold him back.
  • Again, any time during this chapter is a great time to cry. We mean that.
  • Denny takes Enzo for a walk and assesses whether he should put Enzo to sleep. Enzo worries that his plan may have worked a little too well.
  • But at least Denny is thinking about it. That means he's also preparing for the final goodbye.
  • Enzo knows that this is a step in the right direction, because humans really do have trouble letting go.
  • Are you crying yet? We definitely are.
  • Enzo talks about his birth, his parents, and his life on the farm in Spangle, Washington before Denny took him home.
  • Enzo's mother was a Labrador, and his father might have been a shepherd, but Enzo has his doubts.
  • For starters, Enzo's never seen a shepherd on the farm, and secondly, he thinks he's more of a terrier, because they're smart dogs.
  • And Enzo, bless his furry little heart, is a smart dog.
  • For example, Enzo knows the owner of the farm—the mean man he calls the Alpha—is going to try to cheat Denny by claiming Enzo's the best in the litter. (He is, of course, but we also might have a clear bias here.)
  • When Denny picks Enzo up out of the pack, we get a first look at him. Think of the claw scene in Toy Story, and we think it must have felt like that from Enzo's point of view.
  • Denny's not a bad looking guy, with his piercing blue eyes and his dark, unkempt hair.
  • Enzo suspects that Denny has a bit of terrier in him, too.
  • Which means the two will get along really well.
  • And, of course, they do.
  • It's the start of a dog's life.
  • So we've got the background on the dog. Now let's see some racing.
  • Denny talks to Enzo about racing and about all that it entails for a racer to be good.
  • Denny is a professional racer, so of course he knows what he's talking about.
  • Denny tells Enzo that things like balance, anticipation, and patience are vital for good drivers, and that they can't have any memory for what's happening in front of them. They must do, but they can't think about their own actions or remember them once they're done.
  • Denny begins showing racing videos to Enzo their very first day together.
  • Enzo thinks it's beyond wonderful that Denny takes the time to explain things to him about racing and about life.
  • Denny moves Enzo to Seattle to a neighborhood called Leschi, where Enzo enjoys the beginnings of bachelorhood with Denny.
  • Denny and Enzo develop a strong bond over racing videos, and Enzo is especially fond of the balcony overlooking the lake.
  • Enzo's part water dog on his mother's side, you know.
  • Then Denny brings Eve home.
  • Enzo feels protective of Denny and suspicious of this newcomer. He also feels a little surprised that Denny fell in love with Eve so quickly.
  • Enzo is especially jealous of Eve's opposable thumbs. He thinks that Eve is mocking him with them, because she can do things he can't.
  • Eve might have opposable thumbs, Enzo, but you're way cuter.
  • For a complete subject change, Enzo declares that monkeys don't deserve to have opposable thumbs.
  • Well, that's just one dog's opinion.
  • Enzo also admits that he's a bit of a TV junkie. Then he continues his tirade against monkeys, who he believes are less than fit to be genetically or evolutionarily linked to humans.
  • We blame it all on the fact that Enzo watches too much Discovery Channel.
  • Enzo also watches the History Channel and PBS—although that's mostly Zoë's preferred station—and says that watching these channels helps him think about his place in the world, the world in general, and what makes sense and what doesn't.
  • See, whoever said television couldn't be educational?
  • Enzo also shares that he believes dogs are more biologically linked to humans than monkeys. Case in point: the dewclaw and the wolf man.
  • We guess that might be believable, possibly?
  • We also think Enzo might just have an obsession with opposable thumbs.
  • But then again, opposable thumbs are pretty great: we wouldn't be able or write to text without them.