…sometimes we are sad but we don’t really know we are sad.
Siobhan becomes concerned about Christopher’s emotional well-being after reading his account of his conversation with Mrs. Alexander, and she asks Christopher if he feels sad. Christopher assures her he feels fine, and when Siobhan suggests his answer is less than truthful, he reasserts that he can’t tell lies. Siobhan’s observation that sometimes people fail to notice their sadness aims at helping Christopher identify the feelings that exist beneath his logic.
Siobhan asked whether Father had hit me and I said I didn’t know because I got very cross and it made my memory go strange.
Siobhan’s character serves to mirror the reader: Her questions, such as the one Christopher recalls here, echo the reader’s. Christopher’s father has hit Christopher, and readers want to discover how this event affects Christopher emotionally. Since the reader only has Christopher’s perspective, which eschews emotional discussion, Siobhan’s question provides a space for Christopher to reflect and develop an answer. His mind’s untypical reluctance to process the memory helps the reader understand his difficulty feeling emotions.
And Siobhan asked if I was frightened about going home, and I said I wasn’t.
Siobhan asks a question which gives insight into Christopher’s emotional state: Is Christopher afraid of going home after his father has hit him? Christopher definitively answers no. Christopher’s answer reveals an important contradiction. Christopher doesn’t feel afraid to go home after his father’s violent act, while he fears going home after speculating on his father’s potential for murdering him based on his killing of Wellington. The differing reactions portray the intensity of Christopher’s need for logical order. While his father’s abuse has already happened, the father’s killing of Wellington remains an open possibility.
You don’t have to do it, Christopher … It will just be what you want and that will be fine.
Siobhan, one of the few people in the book who do not try to completely manage Christopher, tells him that he may still take his A-level exam even though his mother postponed the exam. In Christopher’s struggle for independence, a major theme of the book, Siobhan serves as a reassuring voice that lets him know he can make his own decisions and handle the consequences.
Just think about today. Think about things that have happened. Especially about the good things that have happened.
As Christopher anxiously awaits for the results of his A-level exams, Siobhan advises him to not think of the future, which will only make him more anxious. Rather, she tells him to focus on the present. Siobhan offers Christopher a way to keep perspective while navigating the emotional turmoil he feels from uncertainty, which Christopher can use as he goes on to live the more independent life he has planned for himself.