The Art of Racing in The Rain : Questions for Critical Reading Journal


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E4AP: The Art of Racing in The Rain: Questions for Critical Reading Journal

Before Reading briefly write down your thoughts and feelings about the following topics:

    1. To what extent do dogs and cats have feelings and thoughts?

    2. Automobile Racing

    3. Reincarnation

After Reading the book answer any 5 of the following questions:

1 . Some early readers of the novel have observed that viewing the world through a dog's eyes makes for a greater appreciation of being human. Why do you think this is?

2. Choose one of Enzo's philosophical observations and apply it to real life.

3. In the book's darkest moments, Enzo tells us about how one of Zoe's stuffed animals—the zebra—came to life and threatened him. What does the zebra symbolize?

5. In the first chapter, Enzo says: "It's what's inside that's important. The soul. And my soul is very human." How does Enzo's situation—a human soul trapped in a dog's body—influence his opinions about what he sees around him? How do you feel about the ideas of reincarnation and karma as Enzo defines them?

6. Compare and contrast Enzo with any real or imagined dog you know of—for example, your own dog or “Dug”—the dog in the movie “Up”.

7. In the book, we get glimpses into the mindset and mentality of a race car driver. What was your reaction to the parallels Enzo draws between the art of racing and the art of living?

8. The character of Ayrton Senna, as he is presented in the book, is heroic, almost a mythic figure. Why do you think this character resonates so strongly for Denny?


. The figure to the left is the Japanese Zen symbol known as an “Enso”. Ensō (円相) is a Japanese word meaning "circle" and a concept strongly associated with Zen. Ensō is one of the most common subjects of Japanese calligraphy even though it is a symbol and not a character. It symbolizes enlightenment, strength, elegance, the Universe, and the void; it can also symbolize the Japanese aesthetic itself. As an "expression of the moment" it is often considered a form of minimalist expressionist art.

In Zen Buddhist painting, ensō symbolizes a moment when the mind is free to simply let the body/spirit create. The brushed ink of the circle is usually done on silk or rice paper in one movement (but the great Bankei used two strokes sometimes) and there is no possibility of modification: it shows the expressive movement of the spirit at that time. Zen Buddhists "believe that the character of the artist is fully exposed in how she or he draws an ensō. Only a person who is mentally and spiritually complete can draw a true ensō. Some artists will practice drawing an ensō daily, as a kind of spiritual exercise."

Some readers have noticed a connection between Enzo’s name and the Enso, which represents , philosophy, and life story all suggest that he is like this symbol. Based on your impressions of the picture and on additional research you may wish to do, how would you say that Enzo the dog is like the Enso?
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