The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

by Mark Haddon
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How is Ed presented in the play The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time? How is he an important character?

Ed is presented in the play as a very flawed character who is nonetheless a fundamentally decent man. When he tells his son, Christopher, about what really happened to the dog, he's full of remorse for his actions. Ed is an important character because he shows the complexities of the adult world with which Christopher has to deal.

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Christopher Boone's father, Ed, is no less complicated a character in the play than he is in the original book on which the play is based. A deeply flawed man, Ed has done some things of which he should not be proud. For one thing, he's killed his neighbor's dog, Wellington, a crime that Christopher attempted to solve.

He also lies to Christopher about his mother, telling him that his mother has been dead for several years. By anyone's standards, this is pretty shabby behavior. But it's a measure of Ed's fundamental decency that we still feel some measure of sympathy toward him despite these shocking revelations.

In lying to Christopher, Ed thought he was protecting his son and that he had his best interests at heart. But at the same time, he has the decency to acknowledge that his wife leaving him and his killing of the dog were both the direct result of his terrible temper, a temper aggravated by the many stresses and strains of having to care for an autistic child on his own.

Ed is an important character in the play because he embodies all the many complications and ambiguities of adult life, which make it even harder for Christopher to engage and interact with that world. As someone with autism, Christopher doesn't really understand shades of gray; he sees the world differently.

It's all the more important, then, that when Ed promises to tell Christopher the truth from now on, Christopher believes him. One certainly can't fault Ed for the conviction with which he makes his solemn vow:

I am going to tell you the truth from now on. About everything. Because ... if you don't tell the truth now, then later on it hurts even more.

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