Because he’s on the autism spectrum, Christopher struggles in interactions that depend on emotion or personality. Rather than sensing that someone is sad because of the tone of their voice, he often only perceives this emotion when the person starts crying and he can see physical evidence of their sadness.
Christopher best understands situations that he can explain logically rather than emotionally. He tries to be like the detective Sherlock Holmes, because Holmes approaches mysteries from a logical perspective and seeks an explainable truth. Furthermore, Holmes doesn’t believe in supernatural explanations for odd happenings. Like Holmes, Christopher thinks that all odd happenings can be illuminated through use of logic, and Christopher takes this approach in his investigation of Wellington’s death.
Christopher loves math in part because it’s logical. He particularly likes prime numbers, and even uses them to number his chapters—a decision that might seem illogical to other people, since chapter five, for example, is actually the third chapter. He thinks that prime numbers are similar to life in that their existence is based on logic, but it’s impossible to find rules to define them. While many people might relate to this perspective, it is especially applicable to Christopher’s situation, since he struggles to understand the unspoken social rules that most people don’t have to think about. Whenever Christopher feels overwhelmed by the world around him, he turns to logic for help to understand it and to reason out his next steps. For him, logic is the path to truth.
Christopher expresses his emotions in a limited way. He rarely narrates what he’s feeling in a given situation beyond being happy or being overwhelmed and confused. He expresses most negative emotions by groaning or hitting people. He also struggles to understand when people around him act based on their emotions, rather than based on logic. For example, Ed lies to Christopher about Judy’s death because he can’t handle his own emotions about the situation, and doesn’t want to hurt Christopher by telling him his mother left him. He also kills Wellington out of extreme emotions towards Mrs. Shears. Because these actions are based on emotion, Christopher simply can’t understand them, and all he takes from them is that his father can’t be trusted.
Despite Christopher’s love of and need for logic, he himself sometimes acts in ways that others see as illogical, just as others act in ways that he sees as illogical. For example, Christopher figures out whether he’s going to have a good day or a bad day—what emotions he’ll experience—by the colors of the cars that he sees on his way to school. This seems illogical, since car colors have nothing to do with the events of his life. However, he points out that people who work in offices often feel that they’ll have a bad day simply because it’s raining, even though the rain has no actual effect on their life in an office. Christopher’s logical explanations for his actions often make sense even when it seems like they shouldn’t, suggesting that personal logic itself may not always be logical, but instead based on each person’s subjective point of view and ability to think in new ways.
Logic vs. Emotion ThemeTracker
Logic vs. Emotion Quotes in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
This is a murder mystery novel.
Siobhan said that I should write something I would want to read myself. Mostly I read books about science and maths. I do not like proper novels...
But I do like murder mystery novels. So I am writing a murder mystery novel.
In a murder mystery novel someone has to work out who the murderer is and then catch them. It is a puzzle. If it is a good puzzle you can sometimes work out the answer before the end of the book.
Siobhan said that the book should begin with something to grab people’s attention. That is why I started with the dog.
A lie is when you say something happened which didn’t happen. But there is only ever one thing which happened at a particular time and a particular place. And there are an infinite number of things which didn’t happen at that time and that place. And if I think about something which didn’t happen I start thinking about all the other things which didn’t happen.
I also like The Hound of the Baskervilles because I like Sherlock Holmes and I think that if I were a proper detective he is the kind of detective I would be. He is very intelligent and he solves the mystery and he says
The world is full of obvious things which nobody by any chance ever observes.
But he notices them, like I do. Also it says in the book
Sherlock Holmes had, in a very remarkable degree, the power of detaching his mind at will.
And this is like me, too, because if I get really interested in something... I don’t notice anything else...
Also Sherlock Holmes doesn’t believe in the supernatural, which is God and fairy tales and Hounds of Hell and curses, which are stupid things.
But I don’t feel sad about it. Because Mother is dead. And because Mr. Shears isn’t around any more. So I would be feeling sad about something that isn’t real and doesn’t exist. And that would be stupid.
Mrs. Forbes said that hating yellow and brown is just being silly. And Siobhan said that she shouldn’t say things like that and everyone has favorite colors. And Siobhan was right. But Mrs. Forbes was a bit right, too. Because it is sort of being silly. But in life you have to take lots of decisions and if you don’t take decisions you would never do anything because you would spend all your time choosing between things you could do. So it is good to have a reason why you hate some things and you like others. It is like being in a restaurant... and you look at the menu and you have to choose what you are going to have... so you have favorite foods and you choose these, and you have foods you don’t like and you don’t choose these, and then it is simple.
And Father said, “Christopher, do you understand that I love you?”
And I said “Yes,” because loving someone is helping them when they get into trouble, and looking after them, and telling them the truth, and Father looks after me when I get into trouble, like coming to the police station, and he looks after me by cooking meals for me, and he always tells the truth, which means that he loves me.
Mother had not had a heart attack. Mother had not died. Mother had been alive all the time. And Father had lied about this.
I tried really hard to think if there was any other explanation but I couldn’t think of one. And then I couldn’t think of anything at all because my brain wasn’t working properly.
I felt giddy. It was like the room was swinging from side to side, as if it was at the top of a really tall building and the building was swinging backward and forward in a strong wind (this is a simile, too). But I knew that the room couldn’t be swinging backward and forward, so it must have been something which was happening inside my head.
I rolled onto the bed and curled up in a ball.
My stomach hurt.
And this is why people’s brains are like computers. And it’s not because they are special but because they have to keep turning off for fractions of a second while the screen changes. And because there is something they can’t see people think it has to be special, because people always think there is something special about what they can’t see...
Also people think they’re not computers because they have feelings and computers don’t have feelings. But feelings are just having a picture on the screen in your head of what is going to happen tomorrow or next year, or what might have happened instead of what did happen, and if it is a happy picture they smile and if it is a sad picture they cry.
I had to get out of the house. Father had murdered Wellington. That meant he could murder me, because I couldn’t trust him, even though he had said “Trust me,” because he had told a lie about a big thing.
People say that Orion is called Orion because Orion was a hunter and the constellation looks like a hunter with a club and a bow and arrow...
But this is really silly because it is just stars, and you could join up the dots in any way you wanted, and you could make it look like a lady with an umbrella who is waving, or the coffeemaker which Mrs. Shears has, which is from Italy, with a handle and steam coming out, or like a dinosaur...
And anyway, Orion is not a hunter or a coffeemaker or a dinosaur. It is just Betelgeuse and Bellatrix and Alnilam and Rigel and 17 other stars I don’t know the names of. And they are nuclear explosions billions of miles away.
And that is the truth.
And Siobhan says people go on holidays to see new things and relax, but it wouldn’t make me relaxed and you can see new things by looking at earth under a microscope or drawing the shape of the solid made when 3 circular rods of equal thickness intersect at right angles. And I think that there are so many things just in one house that it would take years to think about all of them properly. And, also, a thing is interesting because of thinking about it and not because of being new.
And then I saw Toby, and he was also in the lower-down bit where the rails were.... So I climbed down off the concrete...
...And then I heard the roaring and I lifted Toby up and grabbed him with both hands and he bit me on my thumb and there was blood coming out and I shouted and Toby tried to jump out of my hands.
And then the roaring got louder and I turned round and I saw the train coming out of the tunnel and I was going to be run over and killed so I tried to climb up onto the concrete but it was high and I was holding Toby in both my hands.