Before Christopher falls asleep, he watches the sky. This is something he does frequently, often with tools that allow him to see a map of the sky, so that he can tell which stars he’s looking at. When he does this he feels small, because the universe is so large.
Christopher’s problems pale beside the enormity of the universe. He also exhibits his love of knowing where he is in relation to everything else, even in relation to the stars. In contrast, he currently doesn’t know where he is in relation to the people around him.
Christopher doesn’t sleep well, and when he wakes up the sun is rising. After a couple more hours, Ed comes into the garden calling Christopher’s name. Christopher hides under a sack and holds his knife. He gets very frightened when his father comes near, but he remains hidden and eventually his father leaves in his van.
Again, Christopher demonstrates his very real fear of his father. Undoubtedly, Ed is worried about Christopher’s safety, but Christopher thinks that Ed is looking for him in order to harm him.
Christopher decides to go and live with Mrs. Shears. He’ll tell her that his father killed Wellington, and she’ll understand his problem. He walks to her house, but she doesn’t answer the door. Then he sees the neighbors who do drugs walking down the street, so he hides behind Mrs. Shears’ trashcan.
Christopher unrealistically simplifies Mrs. Shears’ emotions, thinking that the truth will give them a common enemy in Ed, and then she’ll do anything for him. He also doesn’t realize that she probably knew all along that Ed killed Wellington, and her anger at Christopher stemmed from this.
Christopher rules out all of the people he knows but can’t go to live with, and finally realizes that he could go to live with his mother, because he knows her address. However, he doesn’t know how to travel on his own to London. All of his options frighten him, but he makes a mental map of the choices and realizes he can’t do anything except go live with his mother. He’ll go on a train, because he knows how to use trains from the train set he got for Christmas one year.
Christopher faces a real crisis in his life. He believes he absolutely cannot stay with his father, but the only other viable option is to find his mother, which he thinks he must do on his own. This, however, involves facing a frightening unknown and moving purposely into actions that terrify him.
Sitting in the passageway next to Mrs. Shears’ house, Christopher sees a rusty metal lid on the ground that reminds him of the surface of a planet. He realizes that he can’t be an astronaut, because he would be too far away from home, and he already doesn’t like the idea of going a hundred miles away. His head hurts from this realization, but he tries to be like Sherlock Holmes and focus only on the problem at hand.
At this moment of crisis, Christopher further realizes that his dreams are unrealistic. Not only is this disappointing, but it also makes his future even less certain than it already was. Christopher feels his world further crumbling around him and thinks of his model of logic and calm, Sherlock Holmes.
Christopher makes a plan. He goes to Mrs. Alexander’s house and asks her to take care of Toby for him because he’s going to London. Mrs. Alexander asks why he’s going there, and Christopher explains that he’s going to live with his mother because his father lied to him about her death and about Wellington’s. Mrs. Alexander tries to get him to come inside and rethink his plan, and when she mentions calling his father, Christopher runs away, back to his house.
The fact that Christopher unhesitatingly tells Mrs. Alexander his plan shows that he doesn’t realize he’s doing something rash that other people will try to prevent. He believes that any good person will see that he has no choice because he must escape his father. Mrs. Alexander, who has been very understanding of Christopher in the past, blunders in failing to perceive the deep fear he feels.
Christopher smashes a window to get into his locked house. He gathers food and clothing. He sees his father’s phone and wallet on the counter, and thinks for a terrifying moment that he’s in the house, but then realizes that Ed left them behind. He takes Ed’s bank card. He puts Toby in his jacket pocket and begins walking to school so that he can ask Siobhan how to get to the train station.
As Christopher’s trust in his father declines, his own trustworthiness declines accordingly, and now he’s stealing from Ed. This can be read as his moral code becoming more nuanced—whereas before he would have simply said that stealing is wrong, he now seems to think that it’s warranted in the face of Ed’s own crimes.
Christopher is frightened both of getting farther away from his home and of being near where his father lives, so his fear stays constant as he walks to school. He wants to rest at school, but he sees that his father’s van is parked outside and throws up again. He wants to curl up on the ground, but instead he takes deep breaths and does mental math to calm himself.
Even as Christopher experiences fear, he manages to see it in a mathematical way rather than being consumed by it. When he has a physical reaction to the fear he feels at the sight of Ed’s van, he takes rational steps to calm down. Under pressure, he begins to act more maturely because he knows he must.
Christopher decides he has to ask a stranger how to get to the train station. He holds his knife in his pocket for safety, and asks a mother on the sidewalk where he can buy a map. She asks where he’s trying to go and points him to the train station, which they can see in the distance. At the same time, she tries to keep her son from putting things in his mouth. She tells Christopher to follow a passing bus to get to the station, so he runs after it as long as he can.
Christopher faces his fear of strangers in order to advance on his journey. No longer a mystery novel, the book has almost shifted to a heroic quest in which Christopher must overcome various obstacles. The mother’s attempts to keep her son in order resonate with Judy’s recounted attempts to make Christopher act in a more socially acceptable way when he was younger.
Christopher loses the bus and finds himself in a street with shops. He can’t think because of all the people around, so he covers his ears and groans quietly. Everything going on around him keeps him from making a mental map like he usually would, so he decides to make a methodical spiral through the town until he finds the station. He makes right turns until he gets back to a street he’s already seen, and then makes a left. Using this strategy, he finally finds the station and goes inside.
Christopher is forced into a situation that overwhelms him because of his extremely aware senses. However, he takes steps to minimize the effect on himself, and he uses a logical, geometric technique to find the station. Someone else might have asked for directions again, but Christopher knows what works best for him.