The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

by Mark Haddon
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How is parenting presented in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time?

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time presents parenting as a challenging task performed by people who are human beings and therefore make poor choices sometimes. Christopher learns this but also strengthens his relationship with his parents by the end of the story.

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One of the central messages of Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is that parents are human beings who make wrong choices even if they love their children. We can see this with Christopher’s parents as they try to navigate their relationships with each...

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One of the central messages of Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is that parents are human beings who make wrong choices even if they love their children. We can see this with Christopher’s parents as they try to navigate their relationships with each other and with their son.

Christopher’s mother left his father because she was having an affair with their neighbor. She has moved to London but wants to remain in contact with her son, for she writes him letters every week. Christopher, however, never receives those letters. His father, acting out of his own deep pain, has told his son that his mother is dead. He hides the letters in his closet. Christopher’s father is also having an affair of his own with the wife of the neighbor.

When Christopher discovers all of this, he loses his trust in his father, understandably, since his father has been lying to him all this time. The boy goes to London to find his mother, but there is conflict there as well, for his mother’s significant other is not comfortable having the boy around. At this point, Christopher’s mother must make a choice, and she chooses her son. She leaves her lover and returns with Christopher to their hometown, where they get an apartment. She has decided that her son is more important than her lover.

Christopher’s father is repentant and desperately wants to regain his son’s trust. He gets Christopher a puppy as a gift of apology and peace, and Christopher is thrilled. By the end of the novel Christopher has learned that parents are people, too, and he has reestablished his relationship with both of his parents. Parents are not perfect, but when they love their children, they learn from their mistakes and grow along with them.

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