The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time | Study Guide

Mark Haddon

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The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time | Chapter 233 | Summary



The next morning Mrs. Boone and Mr. Shears argue about how long Christopher can stay. Mr. Shears wants to send Christopher back home immediately, but Mrs. Boone says he can stay as long as he wants. Mrs. Boone takes emergency leave from work and brings Christopher to the department store to buy new clothes. He has a meltdown almost immediately, lying on the floor screaming until Mrs. Shears takes him back home. That afternoon Christopher announces he has to go back to Swindon to take his math A-level exam. Confused, Mrs. Boone tries to convince him to take the test at a later date because now would be too stressful, but Christopher rocks and screams and refuses to eat.

Days pass and Christopher continues refusing all food. He sneaks out one dark and quiet night, and Mrs. Boone panics when she finds him. Emotional and overwhelmed, she begs Christopher to stop behaving this way. Soon after, Mrs. Boone is fired from her job and the arguments with Mr. Shears get worse. After Mr. Shears verbally assaults Christopher in his bedroom, Mrs. Boone packs up her things, steals Mr. Shears's car, and drives with Christopher back to Swindon. Unsure where else to go, she takes Christopher to his father's house, but Mr. Boone doesn't welcome them inside. Mr. and Mrs. Boone fight loudly while Christopher groans to quiet the noise.

In the following days Mrs. Boone rents a small apartment where she and Christopher can live. She finds a new job, and Christopher studies for his A-level exam. He continues refusing food because his mother still isn't sure he can take the exam now. Eventually, at very short notice, it is decided Christopher can still take the exam. He returns to Swindon for the exam and panics through the first day of testing because he wasn't emotionally ready, but the other two days of testing are easier. Time passes as Christopher waits for his results. Mr. Shears throws all Mrs. Boone's belongings on the front yard, which Mrs. Shears witnesses. Mr. Boone works hard to gain back Christopher's trust, but Christopher doesn't believe him. Christopher's life seems made up of "more bad things than good things" but things begin to perk up when Mr. Boone buys him a golden retriever puppy. Christopher names the dog Sandy and keeps it at his father's house. Eventually, Christopher learns to trust his father again. He receives an A-grade on the A-level exam and feels like "I can do anything."


Rather than ending with a solved crime and a jailed perpetrator, Christopher's murder mystery ends with new possibilities for reconciliation and redemption. Christopher's mother has returned to perform her duties caring for him, and Christopher's father is gradually working his way back into Christopher's good graces. Christopher himself, with his increased sense of personal possibility and confidence, has the potential for a brighter future than he did when all he thought he had was exceptional mental abilities.

Like so many other dysfunctional families dealing with their own unique conflicts and hopes, this broken family is struggling and healing. The reader may connect the dots of Christopher's narration to find some suggestion Mr. and Mrs. Boone romantically reconnect, forgiving each other for their lies, perhaps because they are two people who understand the unique difficulties of raising a child like Christopher. Such an ending is certainly possible, but is by no means foregone. What seems more significant is the way each family member learns to both live independently and rely on the other for support.

Scene after scene in this chapter, Mrs. Boone struggles to create normalcy for her incredibly challenging son. It becomes immediately apparent she won't be able to do this on her own, no matter how much she loves him. The theme of family strength echoes throughout the chapter as each family member puts aside their grudges to forgive and move on.

Christopher's journey to London may have been a huge personal triumph, but it doesn't magically cure him. Christopher's coming-of-age has little to do with accepting himself or undergoing a metamorphosis, common themes in coming-of-age stories. However, there are signs of gradual change in Christopher, such as when his system of red cars/good day and yellow cars/black day is broken by seeing a succession of each on the same day, a disruption to his sense of order which no longer troubles him.

In the beginning of the novel, Christopher thought his astronaut dream was far-fetched because of his behavioral problems, yet at the end of the novel, Christopher can confidently state, "I can do anything." The desire to improve, to better oneself, to thrive, is a universal impulse in humans, no matter what the starting point, no matter what the disability. It cannot be done alone. Christopher and the Boone family are a perfect example.

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