The next day, Saturday, Christopher continues his investigations. He decides to talk to other people on the street, people he does not know, to see if they can shed any light on Wellington’s death. He knocks on the door of the Thompson family, who live opposite Mrs. Shears at number 40, Randolph Street. Mr. Thompson’s brother answers the door, but when Christopher starts questioning him about Wellington, he has no idea of what the boy is talking about. Christopher then goes to number 44, where a black woman answers the door. She has heard about what happened to Wellington but saw nothing suspicious. At number 43, he asks Mr. Wise about the matter, but Mr. Wise just makes a joke and laughs, so Christopher leaves. He then goes to Mrs. Alexander at number 39. She is more pleasant than the others and tries to engage Christopher in conversation, but he is not very good at just chatting. She invites him in for tea, but Christopher says he does not go into other people’s houses. They agree that Mrs. Alexander will bring some orange squash and biscuits (cookies) outside for him. She is gone for six minutes and Christopher gets nervous and just walks away.
He decides that his prime suspect in the killing of Wellington is Mr. Shears, who left his wife some while ago. Christopher thinks that Mr. Shears might have killed the dog in order to make Mrs. Shears unhappy.
Christopher explains that next month he will be taking his A-level exam in math at school. (A stands for Advanced, and these exams are university entrance exams in England.) At fifteen, he is much younger than most A-level candidates. The exams are normally taken at about the age of eighteen. Special arrangements have been made at the school in order to allow him to do this. Christopher wants to take another math A-level after that as well as a physics A-level, and then go to university.
Christopher reveals that his parents used to have frequent arguments, which Christopher believes were because they were looking after someone (himself) who had “Behavioral Problems,” such as not talking to people for a long time or breaking things when he was angry. He lists eighteen such behavioral problems, which would drive his parents to distraction.
When Christopher returns home, his father has his supper prepared, but he wants to know why Christopher has been in Mrs. Shears’s garden. She called him and told him about it. Christopher explains that he is investigating the death of Wellington and that he suspects Mr. Shears. Father gets angry at the mention of that name and tells Christopher that he is to stop trying to be a detective. Christopher promises to obey.
Analysis, Chapters 67-79
Christopher’s visits to his neighbors to find out more about the death of Wellington show his awkwardness in dealing with people, and why others might find him disconcerting; he does not look at strangers when he is talking to them, for example. There are also some comic moments with Mrs. Alexander when she tries to engage him in conversation, which he has little idea of how to do. His definition of chatting, for example, is “where people say things to each other which aren’t questions and answers and aren’t connected” (p. 40). Christopher is happier with questions and answers, which is something he understands.
Sometimes Christopher makes an offhand remark that reveals his youth and naivety, his readiness to believe what adults tell him, not knowing that the adults are merely revealing theirown prejudice or lack of understanding. “Jason at school smells because his family is poor” (p. 38),Christopher says, for example, not realizing that there is no logical connection between those two conditions.
What emerges in these chapters is that Christopher, in his investigations into the killing of Wellington, is stumbling onto something that he has no chance of really understanding—the bitter entanglements of adult sexual and marital relationships. As Christopher innocently relates what he hears and learns, the reader gets some clues about the Boone marriage and how the Shears got involved that Christopher misses.