The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
How we cite our quotes:
And then I realized that there was nothing I could do which felt safe. (179.23)
We'll just take a moment to remind you that this is the same boy who on previous occasions (89.14) put his head against the wall, closed his eyes, and groaned when things didn't feel safe. The fact that he reaches this point and still perseveres through the rest of his adventure is truly extraordinary.
Normally I would have got more and more frightened if I was walking to school, because I had never done it before. But I was frightened in two different ways. And one way was being frightened of being far away from a place I was used to, and the other was being frightened of being near where Father lived, and they were in inverse proportion to one another, so that the total fear remained a constant as I got further away from home and further away from Father [...] (179.71)
Christopher's world has been turned completely upside-down. School is no longer safe (because he's walking there for the first time), home is no longer safe, and his father is no longer safe. Unfortunately, the "total fear" continues to increase as he progresses on his journey.
But after a few seconds [the signs] looked like this [...] because there were too many and my brain wasn't working properly and this frightened me so I closed my eyes again and I counted slowly to 50 but without doing the cubes. And I stood there and I opened my Swiss Army Knife in my pocket to make me feel safe and I held on to it tight. (211.27)
Two things: (1) We want to emphasize not only how dependent Christopher is on his stupendous brain power, but how keenly aware of it he is at all times. (2) We have to say something about the open Swiss Army Knife. Does it represent just how intensely frightened he must be feeling to be prepared to stab (or at least threaten to stab) someone? Or does it show how incapable he is of empathy (that is, that hurting someone else would be a bad thing)?