Christopher’s condition directly results in a few minor conflicts in the novel, but more significantly, it factors to different degrees in the major conflicts between Mother and Father, between Father and Mrs. Shears, and between Father and Christopher. The minor conflicts often arise from Christopher’s trouble with social interaction. Early in the novel, for instance, Christopher hits the policeman because Christopher severely dislikes being touched. The policeman arrests Christopher, so Father has to come pick Christopher up, leading to a small argument between Father and Christopher as they drive home from the police station.
The larger conflicts, however, tend to result indirectly from the way Christopher behaves as a result of his condition. For instance, the challenge of caring for Christopher evidently played a part in Mother’s decision to leave years earlier. Although this action takes place outside the story Christopher tells in the novel, we learn of it when Christopher discovers Mother’s letters. She talks about how Christopher once became nervous in a crowded store, and when she tried to move him he knocked several mixers off a shelf. Mother says she left because she felt it was in Christopher’s and Father’s best interests, and she suggests that Christopher’s behaviour proved more than she could cope with. “Maybe if things had been different, maybe if you’d been different [this is her spelling error], I might have been better at it,” she writes. Mrs. Shears also apparently breaks off her relationship with Father—resulting in the anger that leads Father to kill Wellington—at least in part because Christopher’s condition caused them stress. As Father explains why he murdered Wellington, he says, “I think she cared more for that bloody dog than for me, for us. And maybe that’s not so stupid, looking back. Maybe we are a