The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time
Summary: Chapter 103
Christopher returns home and finds Rhodri, a coworker of Father’s, talking with Father. Father asks him what he has been up to, and he responds with another white lie about petting Mrs. Alexander’s dog outside the shop. Rhodri asks him to multiply 251 and 864, and Christopher replies with the correct answer: 216,864. Father makes Christopher some Gobi Aloo Sag for dinner. Gobi Aloo Sag is yellow so Christopher puts red food coloring in it before he eats it.
On Siobhan’s advice, Christopher includes descriptions of things in his book. He goes out into the garden and sees the clouds, which he describes as looking like fish scales and sand dunes. He spots a particularly large cloud moving slowly on the horizon that looks like an alien spaceship and muses that it could easily be one. Aliens, if they exist, would probably be very different from humans. They could be made of air, like clouds, or just about anything else.
Summary: Chapter 107
Christopher describes the plot of his favorite book, The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. In it, Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson must solve the murder of Sir Charles Baskerville, a wealthy lord whose family is plagued by a giant supernatural dog known as the Hound of the Baskervilles. The hound supposedly killed an ancestor of the family, Hugo, and the very sight of it now appears to have scared Sir Charles to death. Holmes determines that Stapleton, a neighbor of the family who wants to inherit their property, murdered Sir Charles by creating an illusion of the hound. He brought a giant dog from London, covered it in a ghostly coat of glowing paint, and unleashed it on Sir Charles. Holmes and Watson shoot and kill the dog, and then chase Stapleton into the swamp, where he drowns.
Christopher likes The Hound of the Baskervilles because it is a detective story with many clues and red herrings. Red herrings are plot elements that lead the reader to think the story will proceed in one direction when the story actually goes another way. Christopher identifies most with Holmes. Like Holmes, he can focus solely on the task at hand, and to notice obvious things that other people do not observe.
Summary: Chapter 109
Christopher writes some more of his book and takes it to school the next morning to show Siobhan. When she reads it, Siobhan sits down with Christopher to discuss the conversation he had with Mrs. Alexander. Christopher assures her that he does not feel upset about the affair because his mother is dead and Mr. Shears doesn’t live nearby anymore. He thinks to feel sad about something that doesn’t exist would be stupid.
Analysis: Chapters 103-109
In this section, Christopher repeatedly considers situations in which things turn out to be different than they initially appear, suggesting an attempt on Christopher’s part to come to terms with the news of Mother’s affair. In Chapter 103, he spends time observing clouds that look like fish scales and sand dunes, and speculates that aliens need not look like anything found on Earth. In Chapter 107, he relates the plot of The Hound of the Baskervilles, praising its expert use of red herrings. Christopher’s description of a red herring implies that he recognizes Mr. Shears as a red herring in the plot of his own murder mystery. Mr. Shears, who up to now has been Christopher’s prime suspect, would not likely have killed Wellington since he has no reason to feel anger toward Mrs. Shears, though Mrs. Shears has plenty of reason to be angry with him. Christopher notes that in The Hound of the Baskervilles even the ghostly “hound” turns out to be a dog covered in glow-in-the-dark paint. Eventually, Christopher appears to accept the affair and move on. In chapter 109, he explains to Siobhan that Mother is dead and Mr. Shears is not around, so dwelling on their affair makes no sense to him. Wellington’s murder, on the other hand, remains a mystery he wants to solve.
In this section, we also see that Christopher’s admiration of the character of Sherlock Holmes allows him to emphasize the positive aspects of his condition. Christopher, as we’ve seen throughout the book, recognizes the limits his condition imposes on him, notably his difficulty connecting socially with other people, and he looks for ways to downplay these limits and play up his strengths. Christopher identifies with Holmes because he sees many of Holmes’s traits in himself. He feels he shares Holmes’s powers of observation and analysis, for instance, which Holmes uses to solve the mysteries he faces. He also sees in himself Holmes’s ability to focus entirely on the matter at hand and his strong sense of logic. By praising these attributes in Holmes, Christopher indirectly praises these attributes in himself, boosting his self-esteem and allowing him to overlook the negative aspects of his condition.
Siobhan, meanwhile, plays the role of quiet observer, working much as the reader does to understand Christopher better through his novel. Siobhan initially tells Christopher to write his novel to give him a simple writing exercise, but the book’s autobiographical nature soon reveals Christopher’s inner thoughts and home life to Siobhan. In Chapter 109, Siobhan reads of Mother’s affair with Mr. Shears, and she realizes that she has inadvertently learned a secret about Christopher’s family. She attempts to engage Christopher in a discussion of his feelings about the affair, but Christopher reveals very little about his emotional reaction, just as he tells the reader little about his feelings on the subject. He instead dismisses the matter with logic, saying it makes no sense to worry about the affair when Mother is dead and Mr. Shears is gone. Because of Christopher’s condition, which leaves him socially and emotionally impaired, this response may in fact reflect his true feelings. But this virtual non-reaction leaves Siobhan, and perhaps the reader, to wonder exactly how Christopher experiences the world.