Christopher Boone

Photo from a stage production of Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time showing Christopher holding some toy train tracks
Credit: Brinkoff/Mögenberg
Christopher finds the world around him confusing (from a recent UK tour of Gielgud theatre production)

Christopher Boone is a very talented 15 year old. He knows a lot about space and mathematics - he also finds people confusing and notices the tiniest details about the world around him that most people would ignore. He and his father Ed are very similar in that they are both quite stubborn and determined. The unique behaviours he presents could suggest that he is on the autistic spectrum. It is important to realise, however, that this is never mentioned directly in the play.

The audience watch as Christopher investigates the killing of Wellington the dog, then travels to London to find his mother and finally takes his Maths A-level. During the course of his journey he learns that he can achieve anything that he puts his mind to.

How is Christopher like this?EvidenceAnalysis
Finds people confusingIn some of his interactions with other characters, Christopher shows that he can find people difficult to understand. For example, when the police officer is asking him lots of questions and he responds by groaning. He is aware of this issue and writes it in his journal."I find people confusing. This is for two main reasons. The first main reason is that people do a lot of talking without using any words"…"The second main reason is that people often talk using metaphors."This shows that Christopher struggles to understand facial expressions which can impact how he interacts with people. It also shows that he cannot understand metaphors or abstract ideas like 'I am going to seriously lose my rag' because he takes things very literally.
TalentedChristopher continuously shows that he has a great understanding of very complicated astrological and mathematical ideas. For example he explains why the sky is dark at night to a confused Ed."The stars were all rushing away from one another after the Big Bang and the further the stars were moving away from us the faster they were moving, some of them nearly as fast as the speed of light, which was why their light never reached us."Christopher shows that he has a very clear understanding of complicated ideas about the universe. This is especially impressive considering he is only 15 years old.
DeterminedChristopher's continued determination helps him get to London by himself and helps him to take and pass his Maths A-level, even though he is only 15."I am going to get an A* grade. And that is why I have to go back to Swindon. Except I can’t see father. So I have to go back to Swindon with you."The language Christopher uses indicates clearly how determined he can be. He states with confidence that he will get an 'A* grade' and that he 'has' to go back to Swindon with his mother. Despite her initial reservations his mother cannot refuse his request.

Social context

Christopher often behaves in a way that some people might consider unacceptable. However, could it be that Stephens uses Christopher to make the audience question their own ideas about what is 'normal' behaviour? By the end of the play, the audience realises that Christopher, despite his behaviour is a human being just like them, with the same hopes and fears and that there is no definition of 'normal'.

The actor Luke Treadaway, who played Christopher in the National Theatre production, talks about his understanding and interpretation of the character.

Analysing the evidence

Read this extract from the play then answer the question that follows.

CHRISTOPHER:

I see everything. Most other people are lazy. They never look at everything. They do what is called glancing, which is the same word for bumping off something and carrying on in almost the same direction. And the information in their head is really simple…

But if I am sitting looking out of the window of a train into the countryside I notice everything. Like…

As he talks he raps out a nervous rhythm with his hand.

1. There are nineteen cows in the field. Fifteen of which are black and white and four of which are brown and white

2. There is a village in the distance, which has 31 visible houses

3. There are ridges in the field

4. There is a plastic bag from Asda

5. There is Coca Cola

6. There is the snail

Question

Looking at this extract from the play - how does Simon Stephens present Christopher?

How to analyse the quotation

  • "I see everything. Most other people are lazy." - Christopher knows that he is different from other people, he sees this as a strength as do the audience. Here he explains that he is a great observer and can see things that others do not.
  • "As he talks he raps out a nervous rhythm with his hand." - Christopher becomes agitated at times at this stage in the play - this could indicate that he is excited about what he is telling the audience, or it could be an indication that he needs the toilet very badly! He wets himself shortly after this section of speech.
  • "There are nineteen cows in the field." - This is one of a number of clear indications that Christopher can absorb detailed information about the world around him that most other people would miss.

How to use this in an essay

Simon Stephens presents Christopher as being very self-aware, we see this when he says 'I see everything. Most other people are lazy.' This shows that Christopher knows himself very well, an impressive trait for a 15 year old. It is also humorous that his opinion of other people is that they are lazy for not being as observant as he is. We see at different points that Stephens presents Christopher as being excitable or unpredictable when he writes 'As he talks he raps out a nervous rhythm with his hand.' Christopher gets so engrossed in what he is seeing out of the train window and what he is telling the audience, he wets himself. This event comes as a surprise to the audience, highlighting how unpredictable Christopher can be. It also compliments the first point, it is surprising for a 15 year old to know themselves well, and it is also surprising for them to be wetting themselves at that age. Finally Stephens shows the detail Christopher sees the world in, 'There are nineteen cows in the field.' Most people do not see the world like in this way, so this helps the audience to understand that Christopher has a very unique outlook.