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Christopher likens his mind to a DVD player that can skip backward through his memories to a specific moment in the past. As an example, he recalls July 4th 1992, when he was nine years old, and describes a family vacation to the beach in Cornwall. His mother sunbathes on a towel, wearing denim shorts and a light blue bikini top. She then goes swimming, even though the water is very cold. Christopher refuses to join her because he doesn’t like to swim or take his clothes off. Instead, he rolls his trousers up and walks out into the water. Mother dives out of view and Christopher fears she has been eaten by a shark. As he begins to scream she reappears. She makes her hand into fan to comfort him.
Christopher says that when he meets people he runs a search through his memory to determine if he knows them. He also uses his memory to navigate difficult situations. If someone at school has a seizure, he rewinds his memory to other seizures he has witnessed, and then knows what to do. Other people also have pictures in their heads, but unlike Christopher’s, their images contain things that are not real or did not happen. His mother was able to imagine an alternate history in which she married a man other than his father.
When Christopher returns from school, Father is still at work. Christopher goes into the kitchen and puts his things on the table, including his book. He makes a raspberry milkshake and sits down to watch a documentary on underwater life called Blue Planet. Father comes home and goes into the kitchen. He returns a few minutes later holding Christopher’s book. He speaks quietly and Christopher doesn’t realize for a moment that he is angry. Father asks him if the conversation that he had with Mrs. Alexander is true. Christopher replies that it is and his father grabs him hard, like he never has before. Frightened, Christopher starts to hit his father. After that his memory goes blank. When he comes to he has blood on his hand and the side of his head hurts. Father’s shirt is torn, he has a big scratch on his neck, and he still holds Christopher’s book. After a minute, Father goes into the kitchen, and then out into the garden, where Christopher can hear him drop the book into the trashcan. When Father comes back into the kitchen, he locks the back door and hides the key to it in a china pot.
Christopher describes some of the reasons why he hates the colors yellow and brown. Mr. Forbes thinks that hating colors is silly, but Siobhan points out that everyone has favorite colors. Christopher compares his hatred for certain colors to all the arbitrary choices people make in life. If we didn’t make choices, he reasons, nothing would ever happen.
The next day, Father apologizes for hitting him and decides that he will take Christopher to Twycross Zoo to make up for it. At the zoo, Father tells Christopher how much he loves him, and says he was only angry because he doesn’t want Christopher to get into trouble by sticking his nose where it doesn’t belong. Christopher remembers all the things Father has done for him, like picking him up from the police station, and cooking his meals. To Christopher, love is helping someone when they get into trouble, and telling them the truth. They press their hands together in their substitute for hugging.
When Christopher’s father discovers Christopher’s book, the two have a dramatic confrontation that reveals more detail about Father’s character. Though Father never says so explicitly, he appears to have wanted Christopher to drop the investigation so that Christopher wouldn’t find out about the affair. This information casts a new light on Father’s earlier instruction to Christopher to cease the investigation. Father, we can see, appears not to have worried so much about Christopher digging up other people’s business as much as he worried about Christopher digging up the secrets he was keeping himself, suggesting that if this secret comes out it will have serious consequences. The narrative also hints that Christopher’s father probably knocked Christopher unconscious during their fight, revealing a violent side to Christopher’s father that we’ve only seen glimpses of to this point. When their altercation turns physical, Christopher appears to black out for a period, and when he wakes up he says he has no memory of what happened and that the side of his head hurts, implying he was struck.
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