Study Guide

The Art of Racing in the Rain Family

By Garth Stein

Family

The saying goes that when the going gets tough, you learn who your friends are, but you also learn who your real family is. Family is part of the human condition. When it comes right down to it, humans are as bonded and territorial as a pack of wolves—maybe even more so, since we can bond over dessert, too. It seems that all the characters in The Art of Racing in the Rain have different perspectives on what makes a good family, and when those differing perspectives play off each other, things can get messy.

Questions About Family

  1. Why does it take so long for Denny to connect with his parents again?
  2. Why do Maxwell and Trish feel so protective of Zoë, and why do they blame Denny for Eve's death?
  3. Why does Denny take Zoë to visit Eve's extended family in Methow Valley?

Chew on This

Think about Denny and Eve's backgrounds and the way their parents treat them. They come from completely different families, and they interact with their parents differently. Eve loves her parents and visits them often, since they live close by, while Denny hasn't seen his parents since high school. These relationships influence how each of them sees the world and underlie their conceptions of responsibility and independence.

Enzo thinks of family as a small and closed-off thing, which he probably learned from Denny. He doesn't trust Eve's parents or her extended family, he instantly dislikes Annika, and he sees his immediate family—Denny, Eve, and Zoë—as the only family he needs. He doesn't even like Eve at first; he has to learn to be open to her.