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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!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?
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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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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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.Little House wrote: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.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.
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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.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?
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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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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