3. “Mr. Jeavons said that I liked maths because it was safe. He said I liked maths because it meant solving problems, and these problems were difficult and interesting but there was always a straightforward answer at the end. And what he meant was that maths wasn’t like life because in life there are no straightforward answers at the end.”

Having just learned of his mother’s affair with Mr. Shears, Christopher begins Chapter 101 with this quote. With this new information about his mother, Christopher, who initially regarded investigating Wellington’s murder as something like a math problem to be solved, has quickly become caught in a much more complicated and uncomfortable situation. By placing Mr. Jeavons’s observation just after his discovery of his mother’s secret affair, Christopher implies a contrast between math, which is “safe” and yields straightforward answers even to complex problems, with the much more complex affairs of his life. Through this contrast, Christopher suggests that his situation has no clear solution and makes him feel insecure and unsafe. The situation represents the exact opposite of math, a subject Christopher enjoys and feels confident with, in that it leaves Christopher uncertain how to handle the news of his mother’s affair, or in other words, how to “solve” the problem.

The quote, however, applies beyond just Christopher’s discovery of his mother’s infidelity. Christopher finds many aspects of his life confusing and unclear, particularly the social interactions he must deal with everyday. He takes refuge in math and subjects such as physics and astronomy because they have clear rules, making them easier to understand, and he enjoys their puzzle-like qualities (Christopher also notes earlier in the book that a good murder mystery is like a puzzle). In fact, in his narration he often embarks on one of his tangents about math or science after dealing with a particularly stressful situation, suggesting that he uses these digressions at times to comfort himself. For instance, after Christopher finds Wellington dead and the police officer arrests Christopher for hitting him, Christopher digresses into a discussion of why the Milky Way looks the way it does. These subjects, governed by logic and laws, possess the predictability and order that Christopher would like, but doesn’t have, in his own life.