The book begins at the end of Enzo's life when he is lying on the floor waiting for Denny to come home and help him. Memory forces individuals to reflect and this is exactly what Enzo is doing at the end of his life. He is reflecting on all the lessons and experiences he has gone through with his family while he was here on earth.
Memory and Identity
Memory and identity are closely related. This is proven through other class material such as The Complete Persepolis. Marjane Stratapi being impacted by the memory of her grandmother years after her death proves this point. In the story, Marjane remembers the night before she was departing for Austria and the advice her grandmother gave her. The advice to Marjane was to always keep your dignity and be true to yourself, even though there are going to be a lot of people who are going to hurt you in life (Stratapi, 2013). This advice stayed with Marjane years after her grandma passed away. Marjane's grandmother helped shaped her into the person she is today and her memory is the core reason why she remembers her grandmother's advice. It shaped her identity and allows Marjane to be herself after trying to be someone she was not in a confusing period in her life.
The Complete Persepolis p. 150
Enzo's identity is also affected by his memory as well. He remembers not being able to talk to Denny and comforting him in a human way when bad experiences occur. Enzo cannot comfort Denny when Eve passes away, when there are sexual harassment charges against Denny, or when his daughter is taken from his home (Stein, 2009). The lessons he learned throughout his life impacted him and at the end of his life was ready to be reincarnated as a human.
Memory and Theology
Memory is not always reliable. For example, the first time the zebra appeared in the story Enzo claims that the zebra destroyed all of Zoe's stuffed animals when he was left home alone for a long period of time. As readers, we can infer that Enzo was the one to destroy the toys, but his memory was altered, and he did not remember committing this act. Motivated forgetting is an explanation for this and it is a psychological defense mechanism used to cope with unwanted memories by suppressing them into the unconscious (Dalton & Liu, 2014).
Trying to remember memories as they happened is important because as Mirasolf Volf explains untruthful memories is an unjust memory (Smith, 2015). This is important when it comes to relationships because remembering a memory wrong can be detrimental especially when there are two different sides to one story. Mirasof Volf explains that it is important to remember because justice without memory is unjust and we live "under the obligation to remember because we live under the cross" (Smith, 2015). Memory is important when it comes to justice because if there is no memory connected with justice then the injustice is going to keep occurring because the memory is not there. If individuals remember their injustice, then they can purify themselves and begin to heal (Smith, 2015). If Enzo had realized he was the one to destroy the toys he could have come to terms with this sooner rather than years after the act was committed.
The idea of memory is a concept that is beyond the human's realm of understanding. Augustine mentions memory in his book Confessions. A quote that is written by Augustine and translated by Sarah Ruden in Book X says, "The power of memory that I'm writing about is tremendous, my God--intimidatingly great: an extensive, a boundless innermost recess. Who has ever gotten to the bottom of it?" (Augustine & Ruden, 2017). Here Augustine and Ruden state that God is intertwined within our memories this why it is so complicated to understand. This idea may be too comprehensive for humans to understand on earth with the limited knowledge we are given from God.
Augustine explains that memory is the mind's way to God and that forgetfulness is a consequence of the fall from Paradise (Augustine & Ruden, 2017). This concept of forgetfulness is what separates humans from God as a punishment for the sins of Adam and Eve. This is a very interesting idea because memory is complex and often is not understood by humans just as a lot of other abstract ideas and causes humans to be disconnected from God.
Throughout the whole book, Enzo thinks race car drivers have to be selfish if they want to win. They must only think of themselves when they are on the track because if they are selfless they will be taken advantage of and lose the race. However, this is not the case. As a race car driver knowing that the car is an extension of yourself and the track is crucial. The driver must not think of themselves as the center of attention, but they must realize that they are a part of something greater than themselves. This connects to humans because we need to realize that we are not the only ones on this planet. There are other humans and cultures and being selfish is not going to allow us to achieve our full potential here on earth. Realizing that we are a part of a bigger universe and are only a small extension of that is important to remember. We are images of God (Genesis 1:26-30) and once we realize this we can begin to succeed.
A., & Ruden, S. (2017). Confessions. New York: The Modern Library.
BibleGateway. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Genesis 2:4-3:24&version=NIV
BibleGateway. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Genesis 1:26-30,Genesis 2:16-25&version=NIV
Dalton, A., & Huang, L. (2014). Motivated Forgetting in Response to Social Identity Threat. Journal Of Consumer Research, 40(6), 1017-1038. doi:10.1086/674198
Fiddes, P. S. (2013). Seeing the world and knowing God: Hebrew wisdom and Christian doctrine in a late-modern context. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Kelly, D. (2014, October 31). 10 Crows And Ravens From World Religion. Retrieved from https://listverse.com/2014/11/01/10-crows-and-ravens-from-world-religion/
McClanahan, R. (1999). Word painting. Cincinnati, OH: Writers Digest.
Satrapi, M. (2013). The Complete Persepolis. St. Albert, AB: SAPL.
Stein, G. (2009). The art of racing in the rain: A novel. New York: Harper.
Smith, J. K. (n.d.). The Justice of Memory, the Grace of Forgetting: A Conversation with Miroslav Volf. Retrieved from https://www.cardus.ca/comment/article/the-justice-of-memory-the-grace-of-forgetting-a-conversation-with-miroslav-volf/