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 4

Chapter 41

On the way home in the car Christopher's father asks Christopher to keep his nose out of other people's business and tells him he has to stay out of trouble. Christopher answers back that he didn't know he was going to get into trouble and that he hopes the policemen find Wellington's killer. Christopher's father bangs the steering wheel and shouts 'I said leave it, for God's sake'. Christopher knows he is angry because he is shouting. When he gets home he feeds Toby his rat, and when he goes down stairs to get orange squash before bed at 2.07am, he finds his father with tears coming out of his eyes as he is sitting drinking whisky and watching snooker. Christopher asks if he is sad about Wellington and he says 'You could very well say that.' Christopher goes back upstairs and says nothing else because he knows he prefers to be alone when he is sad.

Chapter 43

Christopher explains that his mother died two years ago. He came home from school and no one was there to answer the door so he found the key under the flowerpot and went in to make the Airfix Sherman Tank model he was building. His father came home later and asked if Christopher had seen his mother. When he said no he left the house for 2 1/2 hours. When he came back he told Christopher that he would not be seeing his mother for a while because she had a problem with her heart and she needed to rest without anyone being there. He did not look at Christopher when he said this and Christopher liked that because usually 'people look at you when they're talking to you. I know that they're working out what I'm thinking, but I can't tell what they're thinking. It is like being in a room with a one-way mirror in a spy film.' Christopher said that he wanted to make her a get well soon card and his father said that he'd take it the next day.

Chapter 47

In the bus on the way to school the next day Christopher sees 4 red cars in a row 'which meant that it was a Good Day. The psychologist at school had told him it wasn't very logical to think like this but Christopher argued that he likes things to be in a nice order and that people who work in offices are often happy when the sun is shining in the morning and sad when it is raining, even though the weather doesn't really affect them while they are sitting in an office. Christopher tells the psychologist that he would like to be an astronaut even though it was very difficult to become one. Terry at school tells him he will only get a job in the supermarket or at an animal sanctuary but his father tells him that Terry is only jealous. Christopher says that he is going to go to university and study maths or physics or maths and physics. On this good day, Christopher decides to try and find out who killed Wellington. Siobhan tells him that they're meant to be writing stories today and that is when Christopher starts writing his book.

Chapter 53

Two weeks after going into hospital, Christopher's mother died. Christopher did not go to the hospital but made her a get well card with nine red cars drawn in line on the front so that it would be a 'Super Super Good Day for Mother'. Father told Christopher that she died of a heart attack but Christopher can't understand how - she was 38, very active and ate healthily. Mrs Shears came over and cooked Christopher and his father spaghetti, and then he beat her in scrabble 247 points to 134.


This chapter begins 'Mother died two weeks later.' We assume that Christopher means that she died two weeks after going into hospital but it is not clear. His association with time depends on his version of the chronology of events. This is mirrored in his use of prime numbers to number his chapters.

It is still very early on in the novel and although most of us will have been seduced by Christopher’s almost comforting way of thinking (he seems incapable of hiding what he thinks), we can already see the burden Christopher’s unusual behavior has put on his father. There is a real tension here between the ways the two communicate. Christopher does not lie (as he tells us later on in the novel) and we are already seeing very clearly how incompatible that is to daily life. As his father, Ed is protective of Christopher, but the outburst at the beginning of this section shows that he is straining to manage and balance the relationship his son has with the world.

Symbolically, it is significant that Christopher is taken to the police station at the beginning of the novel. For the policemen, Christopher’s groans and refusal to answer the question about whether or not he killed Wellington is enough for them to believe (along with the obvious reason that he is holding the dog when they find him) that he might have had something to do with its death. On the other hand, Christopher simply feels out of control and overwhelmed by the questions and it is only because policemen are used to people lying to get out of their crime that they become so quickly impatient and jump to conclusions. Christopher is literally and metaphorically locked up by the system: unable to communicate because what he has to say has already been projected on to him by the policemen: from their perspective, his behavior is suspicious and they cannot think outside of their habitual patterns of thought.

Haddon very cleverly signals to us that, although Christopher’s behavior may seem strange to us, our own behavior is often strange but we have become so accustomed to it that we are blind to how illogical it can be. When the psychologist says it is illogical to equate red cars with good days, the reader sympathizes. And yet when it is pointed out by Christopher that people in offices often think it is going to be a good day when the sun is shining but miserable when it is not, nobody thinks that is illogical. Logically speaking, of course, he is right – the only difference between the two is that most of us feel happier in the sun and so it has become a culturally recognized feeling – not at all specific to the individual.

It is during this section that Siobhan suggests that Christopher write his story down, as part of the school assignment, and he tells us: ‘And that is when I started writing this.’ So, we feel as though we are a little behind Christopher because we have just got to the stage where he started writing the book and so there is a sense of urgency for us to keep reading because we know that he is always a little further ahead than us, a little closer to solving the puzzle.