He was asking too many questions and he was asking them too quickly. They were stacking up in my head like loaves in the factory where Uncle Terry works.

When people volley a series of questions at the narrator Christopher Boone, his brain can’t keep up. The questions stack up too quickly, and his brain short-circuits. Here, Christopher explains that he needs time to process each question logically. The way Christopher’s brain works makes everyday conversations, especially heated ones, especially difficult for him. Christopher ends up feeling overwhelmed and oftentimes resorts to groaning to block out the sensory overload. Christopher’s stressed response to social disorder limits his ability to handle confrontation throughout the book.

This will not be a funny book. I cannot tell jokes because I do not understand them.

Christopher’s autism limits his ability to participate in one of the most crucial ways in which humans begin bonding: humor. As Christopher introduces himself in the beginning of the book, he plainly states that he does not understand humor and therefore his book will not be funny. Statements like these create sympathy and endear Christopher’s character to the reader. Clearly, Christopher’s mental disorder doesn’t hamper his self-awareness. Ironically, throughout the book, Christopher’s insights into the people around him, and his reflections on the frailties of human beings, create an unintended effect of making the reader laugh in recognition.

Father said that he didn’t know what kind of heart attack she had and now wasn’t the moment to be asking questions like that.

Christopher’s father has just given Christopher devastating news: Christopher’s mother has died of a heart attack. Instead of being overwhelmed with emotion, Christopher’s brain immediately begins to process the facts logically. His mother eats healthily, keeps herself physically fit, and is only 38 years old, whereas heart attacks usually happen to older people. Christopher does have the ability to feel sad, but his neurological difference focuses him on logic first. Christopher’s father makes an attempt, however futile, to help Christopher process her death in emotional terms.

I thought this might be another rhetorical question, but I wasn’t sure. I found it hard to work out what to say because I was starting to get scared and confused.

Christopher’s father becomes angry because Christopher has not stopped investigating the murder of Wellington, even though he promised he would. His father’s question, “What else did I say, Christopher?”—a common rhetorical reprimand parents use with a child who has disobeyed—confuses him because his emotions have now short-circuited his brain. In this quote the reader gains direct insight into the way Christopher’s mind works. Christopher’s difficulty imagining what other people mean by statements with multiple interpretations leads to social misunderstandings throughout the book.

Normally I would have got more and more frightened if I was walking to school, because I had never done it before.

As Christopher considers whether he should run away from home, he analyzes his options: stay home, or walk to school to ask Siobhan for the location of the train station so he can get to his mother’s house. Both options frighten Christopher, but he considers his alternatives logically, putting the fear into a manageable perspective. In this moment, Christopher’s mental disability actually enables him break to free from his emotional confines, and his ability to deal with life’s chaos will develop as the book goes on.