The Art of Racing in the Rain Literary Elements

The Art of Racing in the Rain Literary Elements



Setting and Context

The action begins at the beginning of the 1990s and lasts for a period of ten years. The action is set in Settle mainly but some of the chapters are situated in Washington.

Narrator and Point of View

The events are presented from a first person subjective point of view and the narrator is Enzo.

Tone and Mood

Tragic, regretful, sad, and lighthearted

Protagonist and Antagonist

The protagonist is Denny and Enzo and the antagonists are Eve’s parents.

Major Conflict

The major conflict is an internal one and it is given by Denny's inability to choose what he desires most: to stay home with his family or to race and be on the road permanently.


The story reaches its climax when Eve is diagnosed with cancer.


The bad events that will happen in the novel are foreshadowed by Eve’s father who comes to Eve after giving birth and tells her that giving birth at home is bad luck.


When Enzo says that the only thing that makes him different form a human is his lack of thumbs is an understatement because it is also revealed that Enzo has problems grasping certain abstract concepts and ideas and is sometimes unable to make connections between a picture for example and an action. The latter is clearly seen during Zoe’s second birthday when Denny shows Eve a picture with a house and Eve starts crying. Enzo is however unable to link the idea of moving into another house with the picture of a house.


In a comic way, the narrator suggests that one should not trust entirely the government. In the fifth chapter, Enzo thinks that maybe the reason why he doesn’t have thumbs is because the government conspired against the dog species and impaired their development. Through this, it is alluded that in some cases, the government may not be working for the public’s best interest.


One of the most important images in the novel is presented in the first chapter, when Denny comes home to find Enzo on the floor. Denny then takes Enzo in his arms and takes him to the bathroom where he cleans gently the old dog. The idea transmitted through that image is that of love and friendship between the dog and the man. Just like Enzo doesn’t want to be a burden for Denny, Denny is willing to do anything to make his dog confortable and happy. The care with which Denny takes care of Enzo portrays the love between them in a perfect way.


Enzo is presented as having paradoxical ideas about death, life and his role in Denny’s life. It becomes clear that Enzo loves Denny dearly but despite this, he wishes he could die. The reason behind this is that Enzo believes that Denny’s life would be better if he were to die and then Denny would have not be forced to take care of an elderly dog. What Enzo fails to understand is that Denny loves him even if he has to take care of him constantly.


A parallel can be drawn between the experience of racing and the idea of going through life capable of maneuvering around problems without getting destroyed. In racing, it is stressed the importance of knowing when to push the limits and when to take it slow in order to avoid getting into a serious accident. In life as well, it is important to know one’s limits and to be careful when pushing them as to not get involved into a situation hard to get out from.

Metonymy and Synecdoche

When the narrator describes driving in the rain, he usually refers to the idea of going through life and learning how to avoid accidents.


“I have no words I can rely on because, much to my dismay, my tongue was designed long and flat and loose, and therefore, is a horribly ineffective tool for pushing food around my mouth”

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