Chapter 15

Apparently I haven't updated this site in over a year. Not that anyone is reading this, but I've been busy. I also find it unpleasant to read this book, so it's difficult to continue sporking it. Anyway, I've decided to pick it back up again. (Part of this page was written on 01/06 before I left off, FWIW.)

On the other hand, Neocities says this site has 1805 views, so I guess people do read it -- I don't think that's all from me. But I digress.

Now then...

In this chapter, we'll learn something about Christopher's famous color preferences. I doubt any of it will make sense.

In the bus on the way to school next morning we passed 4 red cars in a row, which meant that it was a Good Day, so I decided not to be sad about Wellington.

(Yes, the comma is bolded. No, I don't like it.)

This sounds like some form of magical thinking, but it's not. We'll see why.

I'm pretty sure you can't decide not to be sad. Feelings don't work that way.

Mr. Jeavons, the psychologist at the school, once asked me why 4 red cars in a row made it a Good Day, and 3 red cars in a row made it a Quite Good Day, and 5 red cars in a row made it a Super Good Day, and why 4 yellow cars in a row made it a Black Day, which is a day when I don't speak to anyone and sit on my own reading books and don't eat my lunch and Take No Risks.

So here we are finally introduced to his hatred of yellow that the back cover advertises. I picked the background color on this site in honor of this. Why do yellow cars make it a black day? Shouldn't they make it a yellow day? If he wants a synonym for "bad", he should pick something more literal. Maybe it's a Britishism.

I originally thought "reading books" was some weird British term, but then I realized "reading" was a verb rather than an adjective and what it means is that he sits alone while reading books. That makes much more sense than sitting on "reading books". English is annoying.

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.

Since when is Christopher logical? Did Mr. Jeavons glitch in from an alternate universe? I've already stopped being surprised by Christopher-logic, and I've only read 24 pages about him.

Let's hear his "reasoning", though. Maybe that will make everything better.

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.

Nope, didn't think so. Is this OCD? I'm not familiar with the intricacies of it, but the car business sounds more like OCD than Asperger syndrome. I also like to put things in a "nice order", but not this much. Do people wonder why he's not talking to them on yellow car days? Doesn't this bother him? Is it even that common to see four yellow cars in a row? Yellow cars are rare. Maybe they're more popular in Britain.

And I said that some people who worked in an office came out of their house in the morning and saw that the sun was shining and it made them feel happy, or they saw that it was raining and it made them feel sad, but the only difference was the weather and if they worked in an office the weather didn't have anything to do with whether they had a good day or a bad day.

So what? They have an excuse. They have instincts that date from when there were no offices. Maybe they even take walks after work. Maybe they get to and from work by walking. Whatever their reason, it has nothing to do with "nice order", and it's not arbitrary. It's not the same thing.

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.

What's not logical about it?

Also whenever he went upstairs he went up two at a time, always starting with his right foot.

So he has particular, unobtrusive ways of doing certain things (which actually resemble the kind of order I value, unlike the car nonsense). That is not at all the same as deciding that a day is either good or bad depending on what kinds of cars you see on the way to school. That's not "order". It's like superstition except he knows it's not how the world works. It's kind of like Bokononism, I guess. Cat's Cradle is a much better book.

Mr. Jeavons said that I was a very clever boy.

Mr. Jeavons is deluded.

I said that I wasn't clever. I was just noticing how things were, and that wasn't clever. That was just being observant. Being clever was when you looked at how things were and used the evidence to work out something new. Like the universe expanding, or who committed a murder. Or if you see someone's name and you give each letter a value from 1 to 26 (a = 1, b = 2, etc.) and you add the numbers up in your head and you find that it makes a prime number, like Jesus Christ (151), or Scooby-Doo (113), or Sherlock Holmes (163), or Doctor Watson (167).

"Doctor" isn't a name.

That's kind of neat, but by this point I'm sick of the prime numbers. I'm really good at boring people with my obsessions, which is one of the traits, but are prime numbers the sort of thing someone would obsess over? Maybe? There's only so much you can do with them.

I probably covered this objection already. Oh well.

Mr. Jeavons asked me whether this made me feel safe, having things always in a nice order, and I said it did.

This sounds even more like superstition. As I understand it, superstitions often arise in response to unfortunate events that are poorly understood and difficult or impossible to control (at least at the time). People want an explanation and a solution, so they make something up and hope it works. For example, some childhood diseases were explained as being the result of malicious supernatural creatures. This is also the source of beliefs of the form "X is good/bad luck". Christopher here wants to "feel safe" from events he can't control, so he makes up this car system. The fact that he made it up himself and is perfectly aware of how utterly fictitious it is, however, makes it seem bizarre. Usually this kind of faith is sincere and derives at least partially from an external source, or at least from some coincidence one has witnessed. I read a book once where the main character had a "good luck arrow" that he had once managed to kill a surprising number of animals with in a single day. That made sense. This doesn't.

Also, it still isn't how I think about order. I wouldn't say I value it because it makes me feel safe. It's more like not having whatever-it-is in whatever order is "wrong" somehow.

Haddon conflated two different things here, and the result makes no sense.

Mr. Jeavons asks (well, asked, since it's a flashback, sort of) Christopher if he "doesn't like things changing", which is a sensible question given that difficulty dealing with change is one of the traits. I could go on and on about the changes in my life that I hate. Christopher ducks the question, though. He says "I wouldn't mind things changing if I became an astronaut, for example, which is one of the biggest changes you can imagine, apart from becoming a girl or dying".

No. No "apart from" about it. If you say it's one of the biggest, that means there are other items in the same category, so naming some of those items doesn't add any precision, and preceding them with "apart from" is nonsense. If it said that becoming an astronaut is "the biggest change [...] apart from [...]", that would work, and that might or might not be what Haddon meant to write. He should have been paying more attention.

I hate the prose in this book.

As for what Christopher actually said, if he mostly dislikes change outside of his desire to become an astronaut, I find that relatable. In my case I consider it to be more about control than change. I dislike change if it's forced on me, but usually not if I instigate it, and I also tend to strive for control in other ways. This is why I cut my own hair, for example. I can't stand the thought of someone else doing it. I would feel violated. Nothing like this is brought up, though, so I can't assume it's true here.

He said that it was very difficult to become an astronaut. I said that I knew. You had to become an officer in the air force and you had to take lots of orders and be prepared to kill other human beings, and I couldn't take orders.

Really? First I've heard of that. I just looked it up, and it apparently isn't true -- being in the military can help your chances, but it's not necessary. Is Christopher supposed to be ignorant, or is Haddon making stuff up again? That article is about the United States, by the way, but from reading this article I don't think there's any such requirement in Britain either.

I don't understand the point of the random comment that Christopher can't take orders. Is that so unusual? I don't think it's a trait.

Also I didn't have 20/20 vision, which you needed to be a pilot.

A pilot and an officer aren't the same thing. In both the US and the UK you need to become an officer in order to become a pilot, but not the other way round. Also, whether or not you need 20/20 vision to be a pilot (you don't in the US as per the first page), you don't need it to be an astronaut. As per this page, it only needs to be correctable to 20/20.

Terry, who is the older brother of Francis, who is at the school,

...right now? I don't think so. There's got to be a better way to phrase that.

said I would only ever get a job collecting supermarket trollies or cleaning out donkey shit at an animal sanctuary and they didn't let spazzers drive rockets that cost billions of pounds.

I didn't think Christopher used swear words.

"Supermarket trolleys" are what I'd call "shopping carts". "trolly" seems to be an uncommon alternative spelling. I'm pretty sure these aren't actual jobs, but Terry isn't supposed to be knowledgeable or intelligent, so I'll let it slide.

I had to look up what "spazzer" means. As I guessed, it's a British insult. I didn't know it specifically meant a mentally disabled person. I'd say that's too strong for someone like Christopher, but given his wacky reasoning I wouldn't be too sure.

Why does Terry think Christopher would be piloting the rocket rather than just being a passenger like you'd expect? I don't think you "drive" a rocket, either.

When I told this to Father he said that Terry was jealous of my being cleverer than him. Which was a stupid thing to think because we weren't in a competition.

This comment really bothers me for some reason. It's not something I would think. It makes sense, kind of... except it doesn't, because it's perfectly reasonable to want to have certain things and it's not that big a leap to be jealous of others who have whatever you want and don't think you have. It's weird to dismiss this kind of feeling as being "stupid" if it's not in the context of a competition. Is Christopher never jealous? It seems like something a little kid would say. Is this an example of how he thinks, a moral message, or what? I don't get it. I also don't understand what being "clever" has to do with wanting to be an astronaut.

I'll skip Christopher's explanation of quod erat demonstrandum. Yes, I get it, he's supposed to be smart. It would be more impressive if he had explained that demonstrandum is a gerundive, which I'd probably have known at his age if I'd been actually interested in Latin rather than just taking the lessons because somebody thought it was a good idea. I've known varying amounts of linguistic jargon since I was about eleven, though I'm certainly not an expert. That kind of stuff is probably too obscure for this book.

Christopher says he's "not a spazzer, which means spastic" (sure), and then says Francis is a spazzer. Wow, rude. I'd think someone in his position would know better than to use slurs like that (I believe I'm justified in calling it such), but then I can't relate to wanting to use slurs at all. I wonder what the Doylist reason is for having him say this. I understand that he could have not been taught what's wrong with this kind of behavior, but what does it add to the story? Does he later realize he's wrong? Given what I've read so far, I'm going to guess he doesn't. That's a bad implicit message, Haddon. We'll see, though. I've still got most of the book left to go through. Oh joy.

Christopher says he "probably won't become an astronaut" but he'll go to "university" (what I'd call college, being American) and study physics and/or mathematics. Fair enough. Then we get this:

But Terry won't go to university. Father says Terry is most likely to end up in prison.

Terry has a tattoo on his arm of a heart shape with a knife through the middle of it.

That's nice...? Terry sounds like a shallow evil stereotype of some sort.

Christopher decides to return to the original subject of the current day being a "Good Day", so he closes the discussion of Terry with "But this is what is called a digression". Why does he have to explain it like that?? I'd have just said "But I digress". At his age that's exactly what I would have said. I liked that phrase.

Because it was a Good Day I decided that I would try and find out who killed Wellington because a Good Day is for projects and planning things.

When I said this to Siobhan she said, "Well, we're meant to be writing stories today, so why don't you write about finding Wellington and going to the police station."

And that is when I started writing this.

I'm still not entirely sure who/what Siobhan is (or else I've forgotten and need to reread the previous parts). Who's "we"? Why are they supposed to write stories? It's nice to have an explanation of why he's writing it, though.

And Siobhan said that she would help with the spelling and the grammar and the footnotes.

She should have tried harder.

And we're done with the chapter. Whew.

< Chapter 14 | Chapter 16 >

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This page was created on 16/08/2017 (dmy).
This page was last modified on 17/08/2017 (dmy).