Study Guide

The Art of Racing in the Rain Control

By Garth Stein


Control sounds like it could be a scary theme, but in The Art of Racing in the Rain, what we're talking about is maintaining power over the self. This book's all about having the ability to make your own decisions and choices—not to mention the ability to remain in control of a situation that isn't going your way.

The biggest metaphor for control in this book relates to Denny and his racing. Having control over a racecar in slippery conditions (or even in fair ones) is similar to maintaining control when your career, your marriage, and your life threaten to fly off the tracks.

Questions About Control

  1. What does it mean that Enzo, a dog who is dependent on his human caretaker for a lot of things, is the one who can most expertly talk about control?
  2. Does Denny's job as a racecar driver help him in the situations life throws at him? How might he have handled them if he were a lawyer, a dentist, or a schoolteacher?
  3. Do you think Eve's fear of doctors stemmed from a desire to have control over her own life or control over her health?

Chew on This

Denny lives his entire life by trying to predict what's going to happen keep control everything in his path. It's kind of ironic, then, that his entire life spirals out of control over the course of three years.

The novel shows that you never know what kinds of effects your actions will have, so you should be conscious of everything you do.