Christopher continues to hide and passes the time doing math problems. Eventually, when the train is stationary, he gets off the shelf where he has been hiding and investigates. He finds his bag has gone. He sees another policeman in the next carriage and decides to get off the train. He has arrived in London. All the signs confuse him for a while but then he goes to a booth marked Information. A woman tells him how to get to his mother’s address in Willesden. He has to take the tube or Underground (the subway) to Willesden Junction or Willesden Green.
By carefully watching what other people do, he manages to buy a ticket from a machine and walk through an automatic gate. He reads the signs, follows the arrows, and finds himself at the correct platform for a train to Willesden Junction. He sits on a bench and waits. The place is very crowded. A train roars in and stops, and people get on. Christopher is so frightened and confused by the noise that he does not get on the train. Two more trains come and go, and still Christopher, feeling ill and shaking, remains sitting on the bench.
Christopher studies an advertisement on the wall of the station in front of him. It advertises a vacation in Malaysia, but Christopher is not interested in taking a vacation. He finds objects in his immediate environment, such as a house, much more interesting, if people would take the trouble to think about them more.
Christopher keeps his eyes closed as the trains come and go. He waits for nearly five hours, until after 8 p.m. He realizes that Toby is missing so he goes to look for him. He sees him on the railroad track and jumps down alongside it to pick him up. He finally catches Toby as a train approaches. He thinks he is going to die, but a man on the platform pulls him up to safety. The man asks him what he was doing, and Christopher replies that he was getting his pet rat, a reply which the man finds exasperating. A woman comes over and asks if she can help, but Christopher is scared because she is a stranger, and he tells her to stand back, adding that he has a Swiss army knife. The man and the woman get on the next train. Christopher watches as eight more trains come and go, then he decides to get on the next one.
He gets off at Willesden Junction. He goes to a little shop and buys a street map of London so he can find out how to get to his mother’s house. He walks for twenty-seven minutes and finds the correct address. He rings the doorbell but there is no reply. He decides to wait. Shortly after 11:30 p.m. his mother returns, with Mr. Shears. Needless to say, his mother is very surprised to see him, and asks him why he has come. Christopher tries to explain, and then the three of them go up to the apartment.
As Christopher takes a bath, his mother asks him why he never wrote to her. He replies that his father had told him she was dead. Then he explains what happened to her letters.
A policeman arrives and asks Christopher whether he wants to stay with his mother or go back to his father. Christopher says he wants to stay with his mother, and his mother agrees that he can, which satisfies the policeman.
Christopher sleeps on a blown-up mattress in the spare room, but is awakened at 2:30 in the morning by angry voices. His father has arrived, and he, Christopher’s mother, and Mr. Shears get into an argument. His father and mother reproach each other bitterly for the part each played in the situation regarding Christopher.
Christopher’s father bursts in on his son. He apologizes to him for all he has done, but Christopher says nothing because he is frightened. After Mr. Shears calls the police, a policeman arrives and escorts Christopher’s father out of the apartment.
Christopher has one of his favorite dreams, in which almost all the people in the world catch a virus and die, and he is therefore left alone and can do whatever he wants to do, whenever he wants to do it, and no one will bother him. This dream makes him happy.
Analysis, Chapters 211-229
Christopher negotiates the London Underground (also known as the Tube) with some difficulty. He has never been in an environment even remotely like this one, and he thinks it is like a science fiction film set in the future. He acts as if he were an alien from another planet who has never seen human beings en masse, going about their daily business.He watches carefully what other people do, and then imitates them, which is very smart of him, and this strategy willeventually get him to his destination.
The scenes in the Tube station, where he is paralyzed into inactivity for hours, are some of the most vivid in the book, well conveying the terror he feels in this demanding situation. He even goes through a life-threatening situation, when he jumps onto the train track to search for his pet rat and is only saved by the quick intervention of a bystander. Of necessity, Christopher interacts with a number of strangers in chapter 211 and 227, which is something he hates to do. His clumsy efforts to get the information he needs can be quite amusing, and these interactions also show how very odd—and often aggressive—he must seem to the people he encounters. But he reacts aggressively only because he feels threatened in such situations, since he thinks that strangers can be dangerous.
When he finally meets up with his mother again, after such a long absence, he is immediately thrust into a very challenging situation, trying to fit in not only with his mother but also with Mr. Shears. This experiment does not go well, and is made even more traumatic for Christopher when his father arrives, and the three adults get into an argument. What began as a murder mystery has turned into a family melodrama, in which a teenage boy with very limited social skills is caught up a highly stressful situation in which the adults are at loggerheads, and he is left to cope with it all as best he can. He no doubt learns a huge amount during the course of these few weeks regarding the thoroughly messy emotional relationships that adults may form, and how he can manage to survive in such a situation. It is perhaps not surprising that after all this drama, in chapter 29 Christopher dreams one of his favorite dreams—that all the people in the world are dead.