The Curious

1“And when I was asleep I had one of my favorite dreams… And in the dream nearly everyone on the earth is dead…” In Chapter 229, having made the difficult trip to London and found his mother, Christopher has what he calls one of his “favorite” dreams. Since the dream is Christopher’s fantasy, the fact that he identifies this dream as a favorite implies that it fulfills some of his deepest wishes. First, without anyone else around, Christopher would not have to have any social interactions, which he finds confusing and uncomfortable.

He would also not have to deal with crowds, which frighten him, and no one would touch him, which he also greatly dislikes. Significantly, the only people left alive in the dream are people who Christopher says are like him, meaning people with the same condition. If only people with the same condition remained alive, Christopher would be a typical person, rather than an atypical person as he currently is, revealing Christopher’s strong desire to no longer feel like an outsider.

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Moreover, Christopher likes this dream because if everyone on the earth were dead, he would no longer have any authority figures telling him how to live. Throughout the novel, Christopher has rebelled against his father’s authority and displayed a growing desire for independence, culminating in his journey alone to London. Notably, Christopher does not feel sad his father is dead in the dream—he even appears to enjoy living without his father—and no other authority figure, such as his mother, replaces his father, meaning Christopher must take care of himself.

These details reveal Christopher’s developing sense of maturity, and they lead us to infer that the dream is also a favorite because it fulfills Christopher’s wish to live as an adult, making his own decisions and caring for himself. 2“I think I would make a very good astronaut. To be a good astronaut you have to be intelligent and I’m intelligent. You also have to understand how machines work and I’m good at understanding how machines work. You also have to be someone who would like being on their own in a tiny space-craft thousands and thousands of miles away…”

This quote occurs at the beginning of Chapter 83, which takes place just after Christopher tells his father that Mr. Shears is his prime suspect in Wellington’s murder and Father angrily orders Christopher to drop the investigation. Christopher’s dream of being an astronaut represents a fantasy of escape from his current situation living under his father’s authority. The quote comes just after his father reprimands him for not obeying, suggesting that Christopher at this moment greatly feels the need to break away from his father and be on his own.

At this point in the story, he has already begun rebelling against his father, by lying to him by promising he would drop the investigation but continuing it anyway for instance. He has also started planning to go away to college, where he imagines living on his own. Both activities point to Christopher’s growing desire for independence, with being an astronaut representing the furthest extreme of this independence, as Christopher would literally be thousands of miles from earth and his father’s authority.

Christopher’s wish to be an astronaut is also closely linked to his condition, specifically the difficulty he has with social situations. Christopher, who recognizes that his condition makes him different—and in some people’s opinions, less capable—than the average boy his age, repeatedly emphasizes that he is no less able than anyone else, and throughout the novel we see him seeking a role where he feels comfortable and valued.

He dislikes his school, for instance, because he feels out of place, as he thinks he’s superior to his classmates and being in school with them implies he is somehow less valuable as a person. Becoming an astronaut would prove his worth by allowing him to put to use not only his intelligence and mathematical abilities, but also by turning his poor social skills, which cause him to prefer being alone, into an asset. In that scenario, his condition would make him more valuable, not less.

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