Chapter Summaries
Chapter 19

Christopher has chosen to give his chapters prime numbers and describes the process by which prime numbers are determined. Prime numbers are useful and, Christopher claims, is considered Military Material in America. He considers that prime numbers are like life: even though they are logical, it's impossible to work out the rules.

Notes - The conceit of the chapter numbers are explained here, again making clear how the narration reflects the unique view Christopher has of the world.

Chapter 23

Christopher is taken to the police station and processed, giving up his shoelaces and emptying his pockets. He is told to give up his watch but screams and is allowed to keep it. The police asks if he has family and he responds in detail; they then ask for his Father's phone number. Christopher likes his police cell and wonders how he would escape if he was in a story. He decides on a plan that involves starting a fire with glasses on a sunny day. He also wonders whether Mrs. Shears told the police he killed Wellington, which would place her in jail because it would be slander.

Notes - This is the chapter where we first learn that Christopher's mother is dead. The metafictive aspect of the story is elided by Christopher when he wonders about how he would escape if he was jailed in a story - he is, in fact, in a story of his own devising, albeit the truthful nature of his story perhaps sets his experiences apart from a fictional setting in his own mind. The notion that Mrs. Shears would accuse him of Wellington's murder is immediately seen as a lie by Christopher and not merely a false accusation; language comes down to what is true and what is not true alone - intention doesn't matter, as we see later in the book with Father's confession.

Chapter 29

Christopher finds people confusing for two reasons. First, they do a good deal of talking without words; Siobhan had given him examples of how the same behavior can have different meaning, depending on how that behavior is performed exactly. Second, people talk in metaphors, which is when something is described by a word that it isn't. Christopher believes that metaphors are lies since they do not reflect actual facts. Further, his name is a metaphor, which means "carrying Christ". His mother said his name was a nice name because it was a story about being helpful, but Christopher wants his name to mean himself.

Notes - The brilliance of Christopher is evident again with his etymological examination of both the word "metaphor" and his own first name. His distaste for ambiguous language is again made clear with the example of metaphor.

Chapter 31

Father arrives at the police station at 1:12 a.m., which Christopher can tell from hearing him shouting; Christopher does not actually see him until 1:28 a.m. Since Christopher does not like to be touched, Father holds up his hand, fingers spread apart; Christopher does the same so fingers and thumbs touch, and this is their way of hugging. An inspector takes Christopher and Father to a room and they discuss the incident with the policeman and whether or not Christopher killed Wellington. The inspector decides to give Christopher a caution, which means the incident will be kept on record and can be used against him if he gets in trouble again. Christopher says he understands and is allowed to go home, picking up his belongings before leaving.

Notes - At one point in the conversation with the inspector, Christopher is asked if he meant to hit the policeman, which he says yes. The ambiguity of the question is about intention: was there malice aforethought, as the inspector meant, or was there a simple decision to respond to being touched. Christopher does not see this issue of intention, which explains his frustrating answer.

Cite this page:

Mescallado, Ray. "TheBestNotes on The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime ".