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

Mark Haddon

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Course Hero, "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time Study Guide," August 23, 2017, accessed September 25, 2018, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/The-Curious-Incident-of-the-Dog-in-the-Night-Time/.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time | Chapters 23–41 | Summary

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Summary

Chapter 23

At the police station Christopher must hand over everything in his pockets, which he understands is so he doesn't kill himself. When they try to take his watch, he screams, so they let him keep it. Christopher gives the officer the phone number of his father Ed Boone and waits patiently in the cell. He finds the cell comforting because it's a perfect cube. He considers how he would escape, and wonders whether Mrs. Shears thinks he killed Wellington.

Chapter 29

There are many things about the English language Christopher finds confusing, particularly metaphors like "He was the apple of her eye" or "We had a real pig of a day." Metaphors aren't truthful, which disturbs Christopher. He also discusses his dislike of dishonest apocryphal stories, such as the story of St. Christopher—whom Christopher himself was named after—carrying Christ across a river. Because Christopher doesn't believe in God, he considers all religious stories to be "lies."

Chapter 31

Christopher's father arrives at the police station totally outraged, demanding to see his son. He raises his hand and spreads his fingers which Christopher mimics, briefly letting their fingers touch. This is Christopher's version of a hug. Christopher insists he didn't kill Wellington, and Mr. Boone believes him. The police officer agrees to let Christopher off with a warning, telling him if the police are called again he'll be in real trouble.

Chapter 37

Christopher never lies, not because he's a good person but because he's incapable. The only lies he tells are omissions of details that would be impossible to fully report if, for example, they asked what he did that morning.

Chapter 41

On the way home from jail it is too cloudy to see the Milky Way. Christopher's father makes him promise to stop searching for Wellington's killer and becomes increasingly frustrated when Christopher dodges the request. Back home he retires to his room and later finds his father crying. He assumes his father is sad about Wellington.

Analysis

This section focuses primarily on the theme of truth. Christopher's rigid view of the world, which demands order, rules, and truth, cannot be shaken without consequence. His unique mind simply cannot handle it. Christopher believes life functions around rules, not chaos, which means facts and truth prevail. Because Christopher is 15 years old, it's safe for readers to assume this will be a "coming of age" novel; Christopher will transition in maturity as his worldview changes. So much emphasis is given to Christopher's need for truth it creates a foreshadowing of deceit. For Christopher to grow and mature, he'll have to face lies and dishonesty committed by the people he is closest to.

Christopher's stunted emotional understanding is illustrated in the section's closing scene in which Christopher finds his father crying. He assumes his father is sad about Wellington, and his father offers no other explanation. The reader, on the other hand, understands Mr. Boone's fear and frustration over Christopher's arrest. Christopher's matter-of-fact descriptions in scenes permits the reader to fill in the emotional undercurrents of the story Christopher cannot comprehend himself.

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