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Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintaintenance

Essay by   •  October 19, 2015  •  Book/Movie Report  •  739 Words (3 Pages)  •  968 Views

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The book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values is a novel that makes you really reflect on life. If the reader is not fully engaged in the book all they will notice is the one narrator who tells stories about his journeys on his motorcycle. However, if the reader actually focuses on the writing they will realize that the book has actually two narrators and explains life more thoroughly. The book actually points out other things rather than just telling the somewhat boring stories of a man, his son, and his motorcycle. The author expresses his thoughts in a different way, the narrator tells the story from actually two different points of view. The narrator speaks from his current self while telling his motorcycle stories, but also from the mind of his pre electroshock therapy personality, which he calls Phaedrus, who was previously a teacher and a very intellectual man. Throughout the majority of the book the reader is led to believe that Phaedrus was insane, however, after resuming reading the story he really is not. This causes some confusion and leads us to question the reliability of the two personalities: which is more reliable?

The novel begins with the unnamed narrator describing the world as he experiences it from his motorcycle journeys. He describes what the experience of riding on a motorcycle is like and how you can make full use of all senses. The narrator feels like you are more connected to nature when freely riding on a motorcycle rather then crammed into a car and stressed. Not long after the beginning we are informed of a “ghost” named Phaedrus, who spent so long hunting a ghost, “that he became a ghost himself”. At first we assume Phaedrus was an old friend of the narrator, however, we soon learn all about how Phaedrus is actually the name the narrator has given to his pre electroshock therapy self also known as his other personality. It is at this point the reader feels some inaccuracy and confusion in the reading. What the narrator is saying doesn’t always add up or necessarily make sense. Basically what I am saying, he is unreliable. Though the novel the narrator says that Phaedrus is the one who was insane but I feel it is actually the other way around.

Based off of the narrator’s view of Phaedrus may, at first, seem absolutely crazy. His ideas are quite different from the norm including his obsessive attitude. He obsesses over things such as quality and theories and the scientific method, and focusing on the littler things in life. Phaedrus’s ideas are just different, not crazy. In our society the terms are often confused



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