The Zebra Incident!

Discuss the December 2014 book of the month, The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein.
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3chicnP
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Re: The Zebra Incident!

Post by 3chicnP »

Hahahah. It was brilliant.

Back to the topic,

I'm not too sure though.
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like mafia
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Post by freelancer101 »

Scott wrote:Following is a discussion question from the author for the December 2014 book of the month, "The Art of Racing in the Rain" by Garth Stein.

In the book's darkest moments, one of Zoe's stuffed animals—the zebra—comes to life and threatens Enzo. What does the zebra symbolize?

One of things I love about this book is how much the author leaves open to interpretation. I think the Zebra represents the fact that the darkness is inside everyone. It's not some external magical evil, even though imagining such things makes us feel better. It's in us. And that just goes back to the theme of the book, in taking self-responsibility and using self-control to win the race rather than just blaming it on the weather or counting on lucky weather. What do you think?
I concur with your outlook on the Zebra incidents Scott. I think the black and white stripes of Zebra symbolize the good and bad in us. It is us who have the power to either subdue our inner animal or unleash it. The choice is ours!
The Zebra incident could simply be construed as another example of the mantra ''Your car goes where your eyes go'' or ''That your manifest is before you'' like many other instances in the book.
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Post by Lilapo9 »

I think that potentially the zebra represented Enzo's lack of control over his situation. His character's angst if you will. When he is initially left alone because of Eve's headache he had no control over the situation, hence the zebra triumphing. The zebra was destroyed because Enzo tried to have some control over the situation. Later in the story Enzo is put yet again in a situation where he doesn't have control but he takes charge and in a small, smelly way he controls his destiny. He lashes back instead of merely "taking it" for the team. Then when he gets to the bed surrounded by all the stuffed animals with the zebra on top, his low growl is his voice against being without control. From then on he becomes more of a proactive character in control of his destiny.
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Post by Kappy »

I don't think that darkness invariably resides inside you, waiting to be unleashed. I believe that, with few exceptions, it is an effect of the accumulation of toxins in your body.

The great ancient philosopher Zarathustra implored us to engage in "good thoughts, good words, good deeds." Yes, but where do those "good thoughts" come from? I'm convinced they must derive from good health.

When I was a kid I ate a lot of meat, bread, milk, soft drinks, and all kinds of junk food; I had many headaches and angered easily. Negative thoughts often overwhelmed me. Now, 50 years later, nearly my entire diet consists of uncooked fruits, veggies, oils, and sprouted seeds; my negative thoughts are now miniscule compared to my positive thoughts.

Have you ever seen a gangbanger eating fresh fruit? I haven't. I lived in Los Angeles County for about 35 years, and saw many hundreds of gangbangers eating; invariably, they were eating junk food.
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Post by Cee-Jay Aurinko »

Enzo mentions a lot that the Zebra is a demon. Near the end of the book, he actually explains how we all our own demons. Our own zebras. Enzo never quite got over the zebra hallucination. I think the poor dog was traumatized. Every bad thing that followed was the zebra's fault.
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Post by MyThoughtsExactly »

Little House wrote:
librarydancer wrote:I think the Zebra episode was done as a way to make the narrator 'human' (as funny as that sounds). At no other point in the book that I recall does Enzo seemed flawed, or admit to making serious mistakes.

It would be difficult to write a character that does not have flaws; thus the importance of the zebra to the story.
I have to agree with you, and it would be very normal for a dog to tear up a stuffed animal. I think the zebra shows us the "normal" side of Enzo. Enzo says that he feels human, but then he does some very normal dog things.
I agree with this. I think it was also allowing the reader to be able to relate Enzo to their own pet or past pets, and put a reason behind why pets do what they do, such as tearing up a stuffed animal.
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Post by Mallory Whitaker »

Just a warning, there are spoilers in this!
Scott wrote: One of things I love about this book is how much the author leaves open to interpretation. I think the Zebra represents the fact that the darkness is inside everyone. It's not some external magical evil, even though imagining such things makes us feel better. It's in us. And that just goes back to the theme of the book, in taking self-responsibility and using self-control to win the race rather than just blaming it on the weather or counting on lucky weather. What do you think?
I agree. I think everyone is right because the author does leave so much open to interpretation. I don't think there's one right answer. I think your assessment is true. In order to "win" you have to be aware of everything, including yourself, and only then can you control yourself and take responsibility.

The zebra is, in some instances, a symbol of balance. However, in an interview the author noted that a zebra can't be trusted because you never know if it's white with black stripes or black with white stripes. So perhaps in this instance, it's a symbol of imbalance, of "black" overpowering "white". I also find it interesting towards the end when Enzo talks about the truth and how sometimes we see things as if we're in a hall of mirrors.

"Inside each of us resides the truth...the absolute truth. But sometimes the truth is hidden in a hall of mirrors. Sometimes we believe we are viewing the real thing, when in fact we are viewing a facsimile, a distortion...I am reminded of the climactic scene of a James Bond film, The Man with the Golden Gun. James Bond escapes his hall of mirrors by breaking the glass, shattering the illusions, until only the true villain stood before him. We, too, must shatter mirrors. We must look into ourselves and root out the distortions until that thing which we know in our hearts is perfect and true, stands before us. Only then will justice be served."

In dreams, the zebras symbolism is essentially seeing the other side of someone, whether that be positive or negative. In this book, it's obviously associated with the negative. I think Enzo has such high opinions of both himself and Denny, hence why they're the two plagued by the zebra. Their absolute truths are exposed. They both seek justice in different ways. Denny seeks his in court and Enzo in reincarnation. At the end he accepts that he took some things about being a dog for granted, just wanting one more lap.
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Post by kayla1080 »

Man, that zabra was scary! It's like a monster under your bed when you're young. I think maybe this gives us some insight on why dogs destroy things; it's their way of trying to show us their fears.
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Post by Alwhitbeck »

Personally, I think the zebra represents that moment where you are mentally telling yourself that you really shouldn't do something because it's bad, but you do it anyway. Almost like your body is compelled to do it against your will. Usually afterward when someone asks you why you did something, the only response is a lost "I have no idea why I did that."

I felt myself doing that a lot when I was recovering from abuse as a child. Maybe it signifies Enzo's loss of control to the things going on around him.
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Post by Taylor Razzani »

I agree that it symbolizes that there is darkness in everyone. Enzo's darkness was projected on to the zebra even if he didn't realize it. But he also showed that the darkness can be overcome.
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