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Study Guide for The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

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ONLINE SUMMARY THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE Dog in the Night-Time

CHAPTER 53

Summary

Returning to his story of Mother, she died two weeks later. Christopher had never been to the hospital but he had made a card for her with nine lino-cut red cars for a Super Super Good Day. Father said she died of a heart attack; she was only 38 and heart attacks usually happen to older people. Father did not know what kind of heart attack she had but Christopher thinks it was an aneurysm, which is a broken blood vessel and how their neighbor Mrs. Hardisty died, or an embolism, which is a blood clot. Father says he is sorry but it wasn't his fault. Mrs. Shears then came over and cooked for them, telling Father, "We're going to get through this," and played Scrabble with Christopher afterwards.

Notes

More clues are given to the second mystery of the novel, and the ambiguity of language again plays a role. In Mrs. Shears saying, "We're going to get through this," one assumes that "We" is just a general statement of empathy with the bereaved Ed Boone; in reality, both Ed Boone and Mrs. Shears are the victims of spousal abandonment, making the "We" more specific in intent.


CHAPTER 59


Summary

Despite his father's instructions, Christopher decides to find Wellington's killer. The reason is because he doesn't always do what he's told, because when people tell him what to do it is often confusing and does not make sense. Though Father told him to "stay out of other people's business" that is unclear since he does many things with other people and it's their business in those cases as well. In contrast, Siobhan is very specific in her instructions to Christopher so he knows exactly what she wants him to do.

That evening Christopher knocks on Mrs. Shears' door and tells her he's going to find out who killed Wellington. He asks if she knows and she closes the door on him. Christopher then decides to do detective work and investigates the lawn. He looks inside the padlocked shed in the garden and sees various tools, including a fork that looked like the one found in Wellington. He concludes that the fork used in the murder either belongs to Mrs. Shears or is a Red Herring. He considers the possibility that Mrs. Shears killed her own dog but believes her reaction made it unlikely. Mrs. Shears then comes out of the patio and threatens to call the police, so Christopher goes home. He says hello to Father, feeds Toby, and feels happy because he is a detective who is finding things out.

Notes

Christopher feels obliged to explain different terms in murder mystery novels as they become relevant to his story. In this way, he isn't only solving a mystery but also showing how mysteries are structured as a narrative genre - the conventions of the mystery and how they can be applied in his own case. This is actually an example of deductive reasoning - using a broad pattern or concepts or behavior to determine the meaning of a specific instance - being used on a genre that's based on deductive reasoning.


CHAPTER 61

Summary

Mrs. Forbes told Christopher that when Mother died she went to heaven. Christopher does not think this since he believes heaven does not exist. When he asked Reverend Peters where heaven is, the vicar told him that it's not in our universe. Christopher says there isn't anything outside of the universe and thinks people believe in heaven because they don't like the idea of dying. Reverend Peters amends his statement by stating that what he really means is that people are with God after they die; this prompts Christopher to ask where God is. Reverend Peters says that they will talk about it on another day when he had more time. Christopher states when people die their brain stops working and their body rots, decomposing and becoming part of nature again. Coffins slow this down and in Mother's case she was cremated. He does not know what happened to the ashes but when he sees clouds he sometimes thinks Mother is a part of them.

Notes

Christopher cannot abide with religion, since it speaks towards an experience outside of the physical realities by which he bases truth and facts. The metaphorical value of heaven is lost on Christopher precisely because it is metaphorical. Ironically, his association of his Mother's ashes as being somewhere far away is not that different from the truth of her situation, as she has indeed moved to another place, London.

 

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