Chapter Summaries
Chapter 173

From his hiding place, Christopher sees the constellation Orion. He explains how the stars in the constellation form the image of Orion the hunter but argues that there are other ways to connect the stars together. And all of it is pointless anyway, as they are stars, nuclear explosions that are billions of miles apart.

Notes - The truth of constellations - that they are arbitrarily drawn connections of stars - is another variation of the literal way he approaches the world.


Chapter 179

Christopher tries to stay awake but falls asleep at 3:47 a.m. When he wakes it is dawn and he hears Father in the garden, calling for him. He prepares himself by taking out his Swiss Army knife but Father then turns around and leaves the garden. He then hears Father drive away in his van. Christopher decides to knock on Mrs. Shears' door and live with her, since she wasn't a stranger and he had stayed in her house before. When he goes there, however, nobody answers. He sees other people on the street and hides behind the dustbins of Mrs. Shears' house. He goes over possible actions he can takes and finally determines that the only real choice he has is to go and live with Mother in London. He had never been to London before but he imagines all the possibilities and this is the only one that was possible. He thinks of how he could not be an astronaut because it was much further than London and the thought of going to London already hurts him.

Deciding he needs money if he's going to London and should have somebody watch Toby. He goes to Mrs. Alexander and asks her to watch Toby; when she asks why, he explains why, mentioning Wellington's death as well. Mrs. Alexander is alarmed at hearing all this, and tries to convince Christopher that they should contact his father to smooth out the misunderstanding. Instead, Christopher leaves and returns to his house. The kitchen door is locked so he breaks in with a brick. Christopher sees Father's mobile phone and wallet and address book in the kitchen and thinks Father is home, then realizes he left it behind when he drove away earlier. He takes Father's bank card out of his wallet and takes Toby out of its cage to instead carry in his pocket. He starts walking to the school to ask Siobhan where the train station is. As he approaches school he sees his father's van and grows sick again. He approaches a lady with a baby and a little boy and asks where he can buy a map; when she asks why and he says to find the train station, she points out the building where the station is. She tells him to follow a certain bus and Christopher runs after it but loses sight of that bus. He finds himself lost but knows the train station is near; he thus chooses to walk in a spiral pattern and in this way locates the train station.

Notes - Christopher uses the certainties of logical thinking to help the choices he makes: in determining his course of action he narrows it down with the help of a diagram, and when he loses sight of the train station he uses a basic heuristic to find his way. Math is also a way to understand the intense feelings he has, as he draws up an equation that shows how the mathematical constant of his total fear comes from the inverse proportion between his fear of a new place and his fear of being near Father.


Chapter 181

At the station, Christopher sees everything. Most people are lazy and do not observe everything around them, instead choosing to glance and get general details. Christopher cannot do this and, using the example of a countryside, enumerates how much more he would observe than other people, including what each cow looked like in particular. At this point he realizes that he told a lie in Chapter 13 and does know three jokes he can tell. Siobhan tells him he doesn't have to change what he wrote in Chapter 13 and instead offer this clarification. The joke involves an economist, a logician, and a mathematician observing a cow at the border of Scotland. When Christopher is in a new place, seeing everything and dealing with people is like being a computer that is processing too much information at once. He closes his eyes and puts his hand over his ears and groans, which he likens to pressing the CTRL + ALT + DEL buttons to reset the computer. This ability to take in details and not be distracted is why he is good at chess and maths and logic.

Notes - The joke Christopher tells is built on the exactness of the characters' statements instead of the usual wordplay and ambiguity one associates with humor. The comparison of his mind to a computer is in keeping with his views of humans.


Chapter 191

Christopher describes the train station and draws out a rough diagram of the place. He is scared of the activity at the station, however, but also frightened of going home. He tries to make a plan of what he should do but he still suffers from a sensory overload. He puts his handover his ears to block out the noise and think. He tells himself to walk down the tunnel, find a place to sit down, and shut his eyes so he can think. He manages this and sits down at a cafe table. He covers his eyes and, when he uncovers them, groans to himself to block out the noise. To think more clearly, he plays a math problem called Conway's Soldiers. He is approached by a policeman, who asks Christopher what he's doing. While the policeman watches, Christopher uses his father's bank card to take out money and buys a train ticket. At the ticket counter, he's told to go to Platform 1 to catch the train and imagines this walk to the platform as a game in order to accomplish the task. He gets on the train and heads to London.

Notes - Again, math puzzles are used to help Christopher calm down and think more clearly. Christopher has to imagine himself in a different setting - that is, playing a video game - in order to make it to the platform, another way to cope with the sensory overload of this experience. A video game is more narrow in scope than life and allows Christopher to focus.

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