Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance | Study Guide

Robert Pirsig

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Course Hero. "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance Study Guide." Course Hero. 20 Sep. 2017. Web. 13 Nov. 2018. <https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Zen-and-the-Art-of-Motorcycle-Maintenance/>.

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Course Hero. (2017, September 20). Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved November 13, 2018, from https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Zen-and-the-Art-of-Motorcycle-Maintenance/

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Course Hero. "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance Study Guide." September 20, 2017. Accessed November 13, 2018. https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Zen-and-the-Art-of-Motorcycle-Maintenance/.


Course Hero, "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance Study Guide," September 20, 2017, accessed November 13, 2018, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Zen-and-the-Art-of-Motorcycle-Maintenance/.

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance | Part 3, Chapter 23 | Summary



Once again the narrator is having the nightmare about being trapped behind a glass door while his family watches from the other side. In this version of the dream, the narrator realizes the door is actually the door to a stone coffin and that his family has come to pay their last respects.

Chris wants the narrator to open the glass door, but "a dark figure in a shadow beside the door motions for me not to touch it." The narrator pleads with the figure, but it ignores him. Finally, he shouts out, "Chris! I'll see you at the bottom of the ocean!"

Then in the dream he stands alone among the ruins of a deserted city. He and Chris are, in real life, on their way to the Pacific Ocean.


There are no lectures here. The entire chapter is not much more than a page. In its entirety it presents a dream, not details of the literal journey or of contemplations of either the past or Phaedrus's thoughts. The dream could possibly represent several different things. It could show the narrator's fear of death or of the inability to communicate. It might also represent the experience of being incarcerated in a mental health treatment facility. In the dream the narrator is divided from his wife and children both literally and by the specter of death. Pirsig's first wife divorced him while he was in treatment. In this very brief chapter the narrator is alone, separated, and surrounded by ruins. In the context of the author's experiences with electroconvulsive therapy (which Phaedrus shared), an examination of the dream in light of mental health treatment seems logical.

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