Christopher’s memory works like a video camera, and if someone asks about his mother, he can rewind to various memories of her. He remembers going on vacation to Cornwall with her and watching her sunbathe on the beach. She convinced him to wade in the ocean, but when she jumped in Christopher panicked because he thought she’d be eaten by sharks, and she had to comfort him.
Even though Christopher seems to be feeling indifferent about his mother’s life, that doesn’t mean that he didn’t love her. These memories show that they had a close relationship and she wanted to expose Christopher to new experiences. For someone who rarely experiences strong emotions, Christopher was certainly very upset when he thought his mother was in danger.
When Christopher sees someone he doesn’t recognize, he searches his memories to see if anything about them indicates that they’re someone he knows. Similarly, if someone says a phrase he doesn’t understand, he searches his memories to figure out whether he’s heard it before; and if he sees someone lying on the ground, he searches his memories to decide whether they’re having an epileptic fit.
Christopher thinks of his mind like a machine. Rather than spontaneously remembering that he’s heard or seen something, he envisions his brain searching its data like a computer. This makes him seem more removed from his own memories and also more consciously in control of his thoughts and emotions.
Unlike Christopher, other people have pictures in their minds of things that haven’t actually happened. His mother used to imagine herself living an idyllic in France, and Siobhan imagines herself on vacation on Cape Cod. Sometimes people ask Christopher what his mother would think about certain things, but he thinks this is ridiculous because she’s dead and can’t think.
Christopher doesn’t like imagining his life any different than it is—his mind does not fabricate random possible situations, but only those that are the result of logical, step-by-step thinking. This seems to protect him from the heartbreaking impossible, such as imagining his mother as alive. Ironically, though, it also keeps him from guessing that such wild possibilities could be true.