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The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

Growing up is often a traumatic experience, but it is a journey which everyone must make. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon begins with something like a murder mystery, but quickly transforms into an exciting, but painful coming-of-age story. The main character, Christopher Boone, is a 15 year old autistic child who lives in Swindon, England. Christopher lives alone with his father after his mother died from a heart attack. He never got a chance to visit his mom, but his doesn’t concern him that much since he hates being touched, doesn’t like strange places or talking to strange people. If people touch him, he will hit them and scream. Once Christopher was in the train station and saw a policeman. He was afraid that the police man would take him back to his home, so he “started to run away, but he grabbed me and I screamed.” (Haddon 159) Every time he senses danger or becomes overloaded, he will curl up in a ball and groan loudly. As he begins his investigation into Wellington’s death, he uncovers several important secrets which turn his world upside down and set him on his journey.

The author of this book, Mark Haddon, was born in Northampton is 1962; He graduated from Merton College, Oxford, where he studied English. After he graduated, he went for volunteering for “MS to working a string of part-time jobs in London.” (Holcombe) While he was working, he studied English Literature at Edinburgh University. Haddon was involved in illustration work for magazines, and as a cartoonist for the Spectator, Sunday Telegraph and Guardian. All of this was to prepare him for a career as a writer. In 2003, he published a novel, The Curious Incident of the Dog at Night-Time. He won the White bread Book of the year Award and Commonwealth Writers’ Prize Overall best First Book for his novel. Other than this book, he also published Agent-Z and wrote 2 episodes for the children’s TV series.

Mark Haddon, who has worked with autistic children, has created characters that come alive on the page. He makes imagery and creates a story which makes the reader feel like he or she is living in the novel. He uses first person to express the feelings of the main character in the novel. Christopher, who is the protagonist, expresses every single feeling about anything he encounters. For example, when Christopher sees the color red or yellow, he decides whether the day will be “good, bad, or a super good day” (Haddon 27). It is very amazing how the author uses only one character to describe everything and illustrate the feelings of each character.

Haddon’s writing style is unique. He illustrates with pictures to get the attention of the reader. For example, when Christopher said “This is how you work out to find out what the prime numbers are” (Haddon 11). The author includes the list of numbers and shows us how Christopher eliminates numbers other than prime numbers.

The amazing part is not just the author’s style, but the changes of the sub plot and characters’ mind. Christopher’s quest to investigate the doubtable murder of the neighborhood dog leads him to find his mother.

Everything starts from the dog Wellington. Wanting to find out who the murderer is, Christopher records his experiences in a book: a murder mystery novel. Ed, Christopher’s father, realizes that Christopher had been investigating the murder of the dog. He then takes the “murder mysterious novel.” Christopher wants to continue this quest, and tries to find his book, but instead of finding his book, he discovers the truth about his mother. Ed realizes that Christopher had found the letters and tries to explain why he lied to Christopher, telling Christopher his mom had died. Also, to be more truthful and to get more respect from his son, he tells him that he murdered Wellington. These shocking revelations destroy Christopher’s trust in his father.

Ed’s dishonesty changes the whole story. Having lost trust in his father and fearing that his father may try to kill him, Christopher decides to leave his home and seek out his mother.

Throughout the story, three characters includes Christopher, his mother, and Ed undergo significant transformation. For Christopher’s mom, she leaves Mr. Shears, “their relationship having broken down because of the conflict over Christopher” (Haddon). She then moves to Swindon to live with her son. Also, Ed changes his attitude toward Christopher by giving him more love and takes care of Christopher more than ever. At the end of the novel, he gives Christopher a dog, and says “Christopher, I would never ever do anything to hurt you” (Haddon 219). Ed’s mind and his wife were changed by Christopher’s emotional journey.

I really liked the plot of the novel, and how Christopher’s first person perspective leads the narrative. Almost every event grabbed my attention, and as I kept reading, I wanted to know what would happen next. Also, this novel’s exploration of Christopher’s family taught me about family relationships and the importance of trust. I would highly recommend this novel to parents of autistic children, because through this novel, they can learn more about their children’s emotions and perspective.





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