The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time Summary and Analysis of Section 2

Chapter 11

He goes back into the story: two policemen arrive - one man and one woman. The policeman asks Christopher what he was doing. The policeman then asks why Christopher was holding the dog and he does not know how to respond. Because he likes holding it, he thinks to himself. The policeman keeps asking questions, asking him if he killed the dog and Christopher narrates that he is asking too many questions and asking them too quickly. He compares his mind to a bread factory where his Uncle Terry works - 'the slicer is not working fast enough but the bread keeps coming and there is a blockage.' Christopher moans on the grass to block the noise (as he does with the radio, tuning it between two stations to get white noise and pressing it close to his ear, which makes him feel safe) and the policeman takes hold of his arm. He doesn't like being touched and he hits the policeman.

Chapter 13

The narrator tells us that this is not going to be a funny book. He tells a joke of his father’s and says that the multi-layered nature of it made him feel confused and 'not nice like white noise'.

Chapter 17

The police officer arrests Christopher for hitting him. Christopher is told to get into the car, and they drive off to the station. Christopher notices that the car smells of 'hot plastic and aftershave and take-away chips'. As they drive Christopher watches the sky and sees the Milky Way. He explains what the Milky Way is and then explains why it is not light at night despite all the stars in the sky: the stars are all rushing away from one another as the universe expands and they will not rush towards earth until the universe stops expanding by which time humans will be long extinct.

Chapter 19

Christopher explains that he has decided to give his chapters prime numbers instead of the usual 'cardinal numbers 1,2,3'. He then explains how you work out prime numbers, revealing that no one has ever worked out a formula for calculating them - it would even take a computer years to work out whether a really really big number is a prime number or not. 'Prime numbers are what is left when you have taken all the patterns away' Christopher says and concedes that 'they are very logical but you could never work out the rules, even if you spent all your time thinking about them.'


Chapter 11 is very clever because it sets up a crime scene which, if one was observing it from a little distance, would seem easily understood. A boy is seen with a dead dog, does not deny killing it and when the police approach him he cowers and then lashes out. It sets up a dual perspective: one has to get up close (as close as Christopher’s narrative allows us into his head) to understand a situation; it is not good enough just observing from a distance. Christopher tells us that he likes police because 'the have uniforms and numbers and you know what they are meant to be doing.' Christopher doesn't like indecision and he likes to be sure of identity - this reminds us again of why he would not understand the Virginia Woolf quote. Christopher relates very literally to the world and doesn't analyze in the way you might expect.

Christopher does not grasp his situation - he does not seem to understand that he is being driven to the station for 'assaulting' the police officer. And yet he grasps the much bigger picture of the stars in relation to the earth and the concept of the universe expanding and contracting. The perspectives of this section are very interesting. Christopher looks up at the Milky Way and as he describes it, the perspective of him compared to the mathematical awesomeness of the universe is impressive – for him, there is security in the vastness and logic of the workings of the universe. The shifting focus from the ‘hot plastic’ to the stars is typical of the way Christopher thinks – his focus is detailed and absolute.

Christopher says he feels happiest and safe when he is listening to white noise – the noise between two radio frequencies - which is why he groans when the policeman asks him so many questions. He tries to replicate the noise created by a radio. He wants to block out the sounds of speech from the policeman, which he finds threatening because he cannot process the information. He also compares his mind to a bread maker – this relationship with machines and equating people to machines is common for Christopher. When he hears that his mother is going into hospital (p.29) he is pleased because he thinks he'll be able to visit the hospital which he likes because of the 'uniforms and machines'.

In this section Christopher explains why he has numbered his chapters in prime numbers: it is significant that he has chosen a pattern for his story which, as he explains, is the pattern left when all other patterns are taken away. It is almost as though this highly mathematically able child has actively sought to release himself from the confines of mathematical patterns to create something unique for his story.