The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

by Mark Haddon
Start Free Trial

How are Christopher's learning difficulties presented in the play The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, and how is it important to the play and events? How do his apparent limitations become his strengths?

In The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Mark Haddon presents Christopher’s mental challenges and learning disabilities by showing them rather than describing them in words. These challenges help drive the plot and develop Christopher’s character as he learns to use them to his advantage.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Christopher Boone faces the challenge of autism. This makes some aspects of his life quite difficult. He cannot stand to be touched, for instance, and he experiences sensory overload in certain situations. He also has difficulty processing stories and understanding the nature of lies. Yet Christopher is extremely intelligent, and his skills of observation are excellent. We can see that these skills will serve him well as he investigates the dog’s death.

The author never directly tells us about Christopher’s mental challenges and learning disabilities. Rather, he allows us to see them through Christopher’s responses to the events and people around him. In his encounter with the police officer, for instance, Christopher shows his aversion to physical touch and ends up panicking and striking the officer. Further, when he discovers that his father has been lying to him, Christopher has a very difficult time processing that. He does not understand, and he loses his trust in his father. This sparks his journey to London to find his mother.

Christopher’s challenges, however, sometimes turn out to be his strengths. His high intelligence and observation help him solve the mysteries surrounding him and create a fascinating narrative for his assignment. Christopher also has a strong sense of commitment to what he does. When he finds a puzzle, he is determined to solve it in any way he can.

Further, Christopher’s inability to lie and accept lies encourages the people around him to tell the truth so that reconciliation might begin. Finally, Christopher’s talent in math earns him a high test score and opens up the possibility for him to go to college. Indeed, Christopher is learning how to use his challenges and turn them into assets

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on