The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time Quotes and Analysis

It sounds like white noise everywhere, which is like silence but not empty.

p.130, Christopher

Christopher likes white noise because it blocks out the sound of other things happening in the world. It allows him to concentrate. The noise is peaceful. Having some sound allows him to feel connected to the world, because he knows that by hearing the sound, he exists in the world.

Prime numbers is what is left when you have taken all the patterns away

Christopher, p.15

Christopher says in Chapter 29 that his name means carrying Christ and he says 'I do not want my name to mean a story about being kind and helpful. I want my name to mean me.'

Equally, Christopher chooses to give his chapters prime numbers because he likes them: they mean something to him. He does not choose prime numbers because they have significance for someone else, like his name meaning carrying Christ. Also like him, prime numbers do not fit in with a typical or easy pattern - they are difficult to identify and they are a rule unto no one.

His face was drawn but the curtains were real.

Ed's joke, as told by Christopher p. 10

This is a joke made by Christopher's father that Christopher repeats to us. Using this example as a blueprint for jokes, Christopher tells us that there won't be any jokes in his novel, at least of this sort. This joke is exactly the sort of slippery sentence that Christopher finds difficult to fathom. Although he understands that the joke works because of the three different meanings of drawn, he does not understand the logic of it, and of course the point is that there is no logic to it: why would a direct comparison be made between a face and curtains? What is exposed here is not that Christopher is incapable of thinking like us and understanding a joke, but rather that he sees through the transparency of the joke and realizes that the pun does not make up for the fact that the sentence itself is essentially nonsense.

Mother was a small person who smelt nice

Christopher, p. 24

'My memory has a smelltrack which is like a soundtrack'. This is what Christopher says later on in the novel. It is significant therefore that, to him, his mother smelt 'nice'. Although Christopher thinks his mother is dead, he does not show much emotion about it. When Christopher recollects the day he found out his mother had died, he never describes how he felt - he is simply very practical about what might have caused her heart attack and what sort of a heart attack it was. It is quite significant therefore that his description of her includes his own personal appreciation of her smell, making this description quite moving.

This is another reason why I don't like proper novels, because they are lies about things which didn't happen and they make me feel shaky and scared.

And this is why everything I have written here is true.

Christopher, p. 25

Christopher says that he cannot tell lies because 'there is only ever one thing which happened at a particular time and a particular place. And there are an infinite number of things which didn't happen at that time and that place. And if I think about something which didn't happen I start thinking about all the other things which didn't happen.'

Christopher's imagination can't cope with the scope of possibilities in life. He must only relate what he knows to be factually true, putting his readers in a very secure position: we know that we will be given the truth as far as he knows. Any factually incorrect information in the manuscript is Christopher's error, not Christopher's willful misleading.

People believe in God because the world is very complicated and they think it is very unlikely that anything as complicated as a flying squirrel or the human eye or a brain could happen by chance. But they should think logically and if they thought logically they would see that they can only ask this question because it has already happened and they exist. And there are billions of planets where there is no life, but there is no one on those planets with brains to notice.

Christopher, p. 203

Christopher's clear-sightedness here is quite brutal and can be seen as an example of his relative insensitivity to other the way other people view the world. At the same time, his argument here is also a very sensible one and one that is difficult to argue with - we see therefore how his logical relationship with the world can be at once alienating as well as crystal clear.

I was excited. When I started writing my book there was only one mystery to solve. Now there were two.

Christopher, p. 124

This is Christopher's response when he first discovers a letter which appeared to have been written by his mother and sent from London. Thinking that his mother is dead and not believing that she has ever lived in London, this is a very confusing find for Christopher. He even considers that the letter is meant for a different Christopher. He is excited by the challenge of finding out why and when this letter had been written and not at all impatient to find out whether it was his mother. He decides to wait until the next time his father is out of the house to find out. This is another example of Christopher's unique reaction to the letter. He will become emotionally involved when he discovers what it means, but first of all it is a practical problem that needs solving.

My memory is like a film. That is why I am really good at remembering things, like the conversations I have written down in this book, and what people were wearing, and what they smelled like, because my memory has a smelltrack which is like a soundtrack.

Christopher, p. 96

This is a key characteristic of Christopher's thinking: the images and scenes he narrates for us have such clarity that we are swept up into his world and are really able to access his viewpoint. We are also able to view the other characters with a renewed clarity, and so the novel really does educate the reader, not only about Christopher and his perspective but about altogether seeing the world from a fresh angle.

And I would be able to look out of a little window in the spacecraft and know that there was no one else near me for thousands and thousands of miles which is what I sometimes pretend at night in the summer when I go and lie on the lawn and look up at the sky and I put my hands round the sides of my face so that I can't see the fence and the chimney and the washing line and I can pretend I'm in space.

Christopher, p. 66

This is Christopher's spiritual existence - seeing himself in relation to the universe. He says that he wants to be an astronaut, and his respect and admiration for the universe is clearly deep seated. This is his escape from the world as we know it, full of man-made commodities. We know that he does not accept the way everyone else sees the world, and this is his connection with something he utterly admires and feel connected to: a logical mathematical world that functions because of the detailed precision of its genius.

And then I thought that I had to be like Sherlock Holmes and had to detach my mind at will to a remarkable degree so that I did not notice how much it was hurting inside my head.

Christopher, p. 164

Equating himself here to another astutely logical thinker, Sherlock Holmes, Christopher is able to disconnect himself from the world and enter his own mental space. Like Holmes, he disconnects in order to think clearly and without distraction. Unlike Holmes (as written by Doyle, at any rate), Christopher also acknowledges that the emotional distance is a protection from hurt.