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Quotes

Quote #4

The rule for working out prime numbers is really simple, but no one has ever worked out a simple formula for telling you whether a very big number is a prime number or what the next one will be. If a number is really, really big, it can take a computer years to work out whether it is a prime number. (19.6)

What's wrong with this mathematical picture? We thought Christopher was all about logic and order, so shouldn't he hate prime numbers? They're just about the least-orderly things around. Even computers can't predict where they're going to show up! What makes prime numbers different, such that they don't make him uneasy like other unpredictable things?

Quote #5

I was also wearing my watch and they wanted me to leave this at the desk as well but I said that I needed to keep my watch on because I needed to know exactly what time it was. And when they tried to take it off me I screamed, so they let me keep it on. (23.4)

The police are about to put Christopher into a jail cell. This doesn't bother him at all – in fact, he's quite happy there. His insistence on keeping his watch is similar – just as he's quite happy being restricted in space, he needs some sort of boundaries in time as well. He needs things to have order, and for time to be divided into neatly segmented minutes.

Quote #6

He said that I was clearly a very logical person, so he was surprised that I should think like this because it wasn't very logical.

I said that I liked things to be in a nice order. And one way of things being in a nice order was to be logical. Especially if those things were numbers or an argument. But there were other ways of putting things in a nice order. And that was why I had Good Days and Black Days. [...]

I said that when Father got up in the morning he always put his trousers on before he put his socks on and it wasn't logical but he always did it that way, because he liked things in a nice order, too. Also whenever he went upstairs he went up two at a time always starting with his right foot. (47.2-4)

This once again points to Christopher's desire for stability and structure. Here, he makes the argument that not only do we all want some structure, but we all find individual (and often arbitrary) ways to do so – anything to establish some control over chaos.

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