Robert Pirsig's Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance portrays two journeys; it analyzes a physical motorcycle trip and it discusses the individual human interpretation of quality, as determined by the classical and romantic lines of thought. Pirsig describes physical and meta-physical aspects of life, and it portrays how they are interconnected. Pirsig attempts to display the effects of his thoughts on ordinary life. Pirsig's describes quality as being based on the individual mind, whether it thinks in the classical or romantic way.
The physical journeys between Minnesota and Montana allowed the development of the relationship between the narrator and his son. The narrator discovers the love he feels for his son, and he attempts to relate to him as the story progresses. The protagonist's world metaphorically ends with Chris" death, as their evolving closeness shatters. The physical journey is characterized by Pirsig's involvement and commitment towards nature as well as his classical interpretation of motorcycle maintenance. The classic interpretation of technology, and thus motorcycle maintenance, is present throughout. .
Pirsig attempts to rediscover his former self, who he likes to relate to the secluded and metaphysical philosopher Phaedrus. This process leads to the development of the metaphysical explanations. Phaedrus" philosophies are infected with contradictions that lead to insanity. Pirsig the writer has transformed his personality from Phaedrus the philosopher. He is no longer influenced by metaphysical perplexities that previously "hijacked" his mind. These include the complex schools of thought for which there are no right or wrong answers: the nature and definition of quality and the reconcilability of classical and romantic thought. .
Metaphysics go hand in hand with classicism, as they both concentrate on meaning, purpose, utility, and quality as determined by an object's contents.