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 | Quotes


Prime numbers are like life ... logical, but you could never work out the rules.

Christopher Boone, Chapter 19

Christopher loves prime numbers because they are ordered but difficult to figure out, much like life. Christopher tries to manage the outside world with a series of rules, although interacting with people makes success difficult because they don't adhere to the same strict rules. He does not acknowledge his simile may be flawed, that life, and certainly people, may not be logical.


Mother was a small person who smelt nice.

Christopher Boone, Chapter 37

Because of his condition, Christopher doesn't feel emotional about his mother's apparent death. He accepts it as fact and moves on. This description of her, however, offers the only semblance of sentimentality Christopher has. His descriptions are concrete and sensory rather than emotional or empathic.


Mr. Shears left ... Mrs. Shears ... did lots of cooking for us after Mother died.

Christopher Boone, Chapter 67

This statement underscores the unique way in which Christopher views the world. He takes things that are said to him at face value and accepts the changing relationships in his neighborhood without question. Most readers doubt he has access to the whole truth and suspect a more complex adult relationship is playing out than what Christopher understands.


To look out ... a ... window in the spacecraft and know that there was no one else near me for thousands ... of miles.

Christopher Boone, Chapter 83

Christopher dreams of becoming an astronaut because it would allow him an existence ruled by science and mathematics. Moreover, he could live many years in a space station far from the rest of humanity and society, sources of great stress for him. While Christopher recognizes the fulfillment of his dream is improbable due to his behavioral problems, he hasn't given up hope. He does not realize fulfillment of his dream may not be possible because life without people (i.e., life without complexity) is unrealistic.


Maths wasn't like life because in life there are no straightforward answers at the end.

Christopher Boone, Chapter 101

Christopher discusses why he loves mathematics after learning about his mother's affair with Mr. Shears. Although Christopher can't understand the emotional ramifications of his mother's affair, he seems to intuit the affair doesn't fit logically into his worldview. In an example of dramatic irony, Christopher includes an appendix at the end of his book with an answer to a mathematical proof. Thus, he offers an answer at the end, but it is certainly not straightforward.


Sherlock Holmes had, in a ... remarkable degree, the power of detaching his mind at will.

Christopher Boone, Chapter 107

Christopher strives to be just like his literary hero, Sherlock Holmes, who was intelligent and detached. However, he found Sherlock's author, Arthur Conan O'Doyle distasteful because of his spiritual beliefs. Christopher fails to reconcile his roles as both the main character and the author of his own novel, a conflict that drives the plot.


But I don't feel sad about it. Because Mother is dead.

Christopher Boone, Chapter 109

Now that mother is dead, she has been erased from Christopher's life and mourning her would be "stupid" because it would do nothing to change Christopher's current existence. He must adapt to life without his mother, which is far more pressing than wishing it was different.


Sometimes people want to be stupid and they do not want to know the truth.

Christopher Boone, Chapter 139

Christopher chastises people who look at the world in any way that is not logical, yet he doesn't have the self-realization to see he avoids quite apparent and very possible truths, such as his mother is alive or his father killed Wellington, because admitting so would upend the carefully ordered, detached way in which he views the world and his place in it.


I remember looking at the two of you ... you were really different with him.

Judy Boone, Chapter 157

In her letters to Christopher, Judy Boone explains how difficult it was raising and caring for him. She thinks his father was better at the job, judging from Christopher's better behavior around him. This was part of her rationale for abandoning them.


Father had murdered Wellington. That meant he could murder me.

Christopher Boone, Chapter 167

Reading the letters, Christopher's worldview changes as he realizes his father lied to him. Trust is an important element in any relationship, and learning his father lied means Christopher can no longer trust him. It also reveals Christopher's lack of understanding of moral and ethical codes. He thinks if his father can kill the neighbor's dog, his father could just as easily kill his own son.


It is just stars ... you could join up the dots in any way you wanted.

Christopher Boone, Chapter 173

After his father admits killing Wellington, Christopher realizes nothing is as it seems. He thought his father was trustworthy and safe, but he can now "connect the dots" of his father's behavior to come to an entirely different result.


Most people are lazy. They never look at everything.

Christopher Boone, Chapter 181

Again, Christopher compares his brain to the brains of "normal" people, coming to the conclusion of his own superiority. Christopher cannot grasp how other people think and therefore cannot understand which might be better—to be "normal" or "special."


People believe in God ... they think it ... unlikely that [anything] complicated ... could happen by chance.

Christopher Boone, Chapter 199

Christopher understands the world strictly through mathematics and logic, disparaging anyone who views the world romantically or spiritually. In many ways this outlook allows Christopher to process his own condition statistically. His "behavioral problems" result simply from the odds.


I had one of my favorite dreams ... nearly everyone on the earth is dead.

Christopher Boone, Chapter 229

Christopher's dream highlights the daily struggle of living in society with his condition. In his perfectly ordered world, everyone "normal" would be dead, even his parents, allowing him to be "special" without interference from illogical, inscrutable people.


I can do anything.

Christopher Boone, Chapter 233

After making his way to London and passing his A-level math exam, Christopher realizes he can accomplish anything. Although inhibited by his behavioral problems, Christopher learns he can manage the symptoms well enough to accomplish any goal, perhaps even becoming an astronaut. It is up to the reader to decide whether Christopher has made real accomplishments in the novel or whether he is again deluding himself.

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