Study Guide

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time Chapter 157

By Mark Haddon

Chapter 157

  • Six days later, when his father goes out, Christopher finally has another opportunity to go back to read the other letters.
  • There are forty-three letters in all. He picks one at random and starts reading it.
  • His mother recalls a time two Christmases ago when Christopher got a new train set as a gift, and refused to go to bed because he didn't want to stop playing with it. Nice memory.
  • How about another one? This time, his mother tries to explain why she left Christopher and his father. She admits she wasn't a very good mother and that Christopher's father is much more patient than she is.
  • Then she recalls a time when she and Christopher went Christmas shopping. Christopher had a meltdown in a store and shouted and smashed things, and eventually they had to walk home because Christopher refused to get on the bus.
  • She tried talking to his father but she had a tough time making him understand her struggles. Eventually, things got so strained that they stopped talking altogether.
  • This is when she started spending more time with Roger, evidently. Roger told her that he and Eileen weren't in love with each other – he was lonely, too.
  • Is anyone else wondering why she's spilling all this out to her long-distance son?
  • In any case, she continues on to write that she and Roger fell in love. Roger suggested they run away together, but she said she could never leave Christopher.
  • But then one day, she and Christopher had a big argument, in which they both threw things and she ended up with a few broken toes.
  • This led to another big argument with Christopher's father.
  • Since his mom couldn't walk for a while, Christopher's father had to take care of him alone. And according to this letter, Christopher seemed to be much happier around his dad.
  • And so she decided that everyone would be better off if she simply wasn't around after all.
  • Hmmm.
  • Roger applied for a job transfer, and the two of them moved to London.
  • She wanted to say good-bye, but Christopher's father was incredibly angry after she left, and told her she could never come back to see him.
  • Almost over, we promise. She just repeats how sorry she is, and says that she never ever meant to hurt him.
  • She concludes the letter by writing how much she thinks about him. She wonders how he's doing, and asks him to please write or call.
  • (Considering he never got the letters, he clearly didn't do that.)
  • On to a third letter. In this one, Christopher's mother writes about her new job and she asks him if he likes the present that she and Roger sent him.
  • Finally, he opens a fourth one. He starts to read about his mother's trip to the dentist, but he can't finish it because he starts to feel sick.
  • He realizes the truth: "Mother had not had a heart attack. Mother had not died. Mother had been alive all the time. And Father had lied about this" (157.19).
  • He tries to think of another explanation, but can't come up with any other possibility.
  • That's a tough one to swallow.
  • He starts feeling dizzy, and his stomach hurts. He gets into his father's bed, curls into a ball and passes out. When he wakes up, there's vomit on the sheets and his father is calling his name.
  • As he hears his name being called, he can see it written out in his mother's handwriting on the envelopes.
  • At first, his father is angry that Christopher has been going through his stuff. But then he notices the letters, and realizes that Christopher knows the truth: that's a way bigger deal than just snooping.
  • He freaks out a little bit, and then he starts crying and says, "I did it for your good, Christopher. Honestly I did. I never meant to lie [...] It was so complicated. So difficult " (157.38, 42).
  • Then he takes Christopher into the bath to clean him up. And even though he's being touched, Christopher is okay with it.