The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

by Mark Haddon

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How are Christopher's learning difficulties portrayed in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and how do they become his strengths?

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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.

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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...

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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

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How are Christopher and his relationships with others presented in the play The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time? How is he an important character?

Christopher is presented as a brilliantly gifted boy who experiences difficulty in understanding and relating to those around him. Audiences of the play and readers of the book on which it is based often assume that Christopher is autistic, although this condition is not specifically mentioned.

The central relationships in the play are those between Christopher and his father and mother. In the case of his father, Christopher's lack of empathy makes it particularly difficult for him to see his father in the same light after he learns the admittedly disturbing truth about both Wellington and his mother. The main hope for him to reestablish normal relations with his father seems to be his mother's encouragement for them to talk to each other.

Although Siobhan has an increased role in the play, sharing the task of narration with Christopher by reading out his words, it is still very much Christopher's drama. He is the central character in the play, driving the action forward with his investigation, and all the other characters serve as foils for his unique personality. The actress playing Siobhan has a great many lines, but, within the context of the play, the character of Siobhan is only reading Christopher's words, which reinforces his idiosyncratic point of view.

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