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 December 12, 2017, 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 79–97 | Summary

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Summary

Chapter 79

When Christopher gets home his father has prepared dinner exactly as Christopher likes it—none of the foods on his plate are touching. He asks where Christopher has been, and Christopher simply responds "out." Mr. Boone gets upset and says Mrs. Shears called. He reminds Christopher of his promise to stay out of other people's business. Christopher shares Mr. Shears is now his prime suspect, and his father comes unglued. He bangs the table and shouts, "I will not have that man's name mentioned in my house ... That man is evil." Again, he makes Christopher promise to stop "this ridiculous game."

Chapter 83

Christopher dreams one day he could make a very good astronaut, particularly given his exceptional math and science skills. He knows becoming an astronaut would be extremely challenging because of his "behavioral difficulties," but he dreams of it anyway. He doesn't think he'd be homesick in space, kept in small quarters for long periods of time. It would be fine with him and he'd go even if they said he couldn't take his pet rat along.

Chapter 89

The next day Christopher shows Siobhan, his tutor at school, what he's written of the murder mystery. She reads it with interest, gives a few tips about how he could better engage his audience, and attempts to kindly answer Christopher's many questions about Mr. Shears, whom she doesn't know. She also suggests Mr. Boone's animosity toward Mr. Shears stems from their relationships with Mrs. Shears, but Christopher doesn't really understand.

Chapter 97

Five days later Christopher sees five red cars in a row, signaling a "Super Good Day," so he automatically assumes he will uncover some secrets about Wellington's murder. He bumps into Mrs. Alexander again and agrees to meet her in the park to ask a few more questions. Once again Christopher uses logic to decide asking about Mr. Shears doesn't directly go against any of the promises he made to his father the night before. Christopher asks Mrs. Alexander what she knows about Mr. Shears, which isn't much. She dodges his questions for a while about why his father might dislike Mr. Shears but becomes intrigued when Christopher asks whether Mr. Shears killed his mother. Mrs. Alexander is genuinely shocked to learn Christopher's mother had died. Then she bluntly announces Christopher's mother had been having an affair with Mr. Shears. Christopher silently digests the information, gets up, and leaves.

Analysis

With Mrs. Alexander's admission of the affair between Mrs. Boone and Mr. Shear, Christopher can no longer deny his family's involvement in the Shears' life and therefore their involvement in Wellington's death. It's unclear exactly what is going through Christopher's mind in the 30 seconds of silence following Mrs. Alexander's bombshell, and it's unclear whether the admission of infidelity has emotional meaning. Christopher leaves immediately after, claiming to be afraid of Mrs. Alexander because she's a stranger, which is an obvious lie.

Christopher claims to be unable to lie, yet he is able to manipulate the truth when it suits his needs. For example, his father doesn't want him investigating Wellington's murder, so he tells the "white lie" that he was simply "out" after he does some detective work. Christopher's relationship to the truth is not based on an ingrained sense of morality. He wants the truth because the alternative upsets him, but he is willing to bend the truth when it is most convenient to achieve his goals. In many ways the admission of infidelity is a turning point for Christopher's character as the strict rules of his life begin to shift. He has told his own white lie, and in turn, he learns adults in his life have also lied to him.

This section also gives readers more insight into Christopher's exceptional mind. In Chapter 83 Christopher delineates all the reasons he would make a good astronaut: he likes enclosed spaces; he doesn't have strong human connections so he wouldn't miss anyone, even his father; he likes machinery (which would surround him on a space shuttle); and the lack of visual stimulation beyond the sameness of the stars would soothe his frequently overwhelmed mind. A paradox is then created because the farthest he will roam by himself is the corner shop or school while the farthest he dreams of going is the far reaches of the universe.

There is further dramatic irony in Christopher's fascination with space and the way "stars are the places where the molecules that life is made of were constructed billions of years ago," just as he liked to think the cremated molecules of his mother turned into rain on the other side of the planet. Christopher exhibits an interest in interconnection. Although trapped in the isolation of his mind's need for routines and familiarity, some part of Christopher wishes to be a part of something bigger, to acknowledge his uniquely individual molecules can mingle with those of other people and places. In many ways Christopher is a teenager in a coming-of-age story, struggling to find ways to connect to an adult world.

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