Study Guide

The Art of Racing in the Rain Humanity

By Garth Stein


The dictionary defines humanity as "the quality or state of being human." Um, no surprise there.

But dictionary also defines humanity as "the quality and state of being humane." The Art of Racing in the Rain backs both of those definitions up: it shows that having humanity isn't just about being a person, it's about being a good person— which seems like it should be a no-brainer, but given how some of the people in this book behave, we guess it's not. Maybe Enzo, who wants to be human more than anything else, could take the place of some of our less-than-favorite humans here.

Questions About Humanity

  1. Who of the characters most embodies the trait of humanity?
  2. What key traits that Enzo decides are necessary aspects of human existence? What behaviors does he practice in order to prepare his soul for a human body?
  3. By the end of Enzo's life, has he learned all he needs to know to become a person? If you could give him one piece of advice about being human, what would it be?

Chew on This

If Enzo is waiting to possess his humanness, does he possess his "dogness" in the meantime?

If the dewclaw is considered an unformed opposable thumb, and if cats and dogs both have these "thumb" claws, then maybe cats are pretty close to humans on the tree of evolution, too.