The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

by Mark Haddon

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How is tension and suspense created in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time?

In The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, suspense and tension is created through events like the discovery of the dead dog and Christopher’s journey to London. Secrets and their revelation add to the suspense, as do the characters’ choices.

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There is plenty of tension and suspense in Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. The discovery of the dead dog adds the suspense of a mystery, and Christopher is determined to discover who has killed the poodle. Christopher loves mysteries, and this gives him a chance to apply his detecting skills. Christopher’s father, however, does not want him to investigate the dog’s death, especially after Christopher gets into an altercation with a police officer. We later learn, however, that Christopher’s father has another reason for his son to steer clear of this mystery.

The tension of the story rises as Christopher discovers much more than the killer of the dog. For a long time, he has thought that his mother was dead. His father told him that she died of a heart attack. But now Christopher learns that she is alive and well and living in London. She writes to her son every week, but his father has hidden the letters. This discovery leads to a huge increase in tension between Christopher and his father. Then, when Christopher learns that his father is actually the one who killed the dog in a fit of anger, the boy decides to head for London to be with his mother.

Here we enter into another suspenseful section as Christopher journeys to London. He meets with all kinds of difficulties, from hiding in a luggage compartment to rescuing his pet rat, and the audience wonders if this boy will ever make it to London. He finally does, however, and in one piece at that.

Indeed, the author uses tension and suspense throughout the story to hold this audience’s attention and to draw them into his tale. Through his chosen events, descriptions, and dialogue, and through his character’s choices and actions, suspense builds, brings the audience to the edges of their seats, and then resolves as the story does with Christopher safe and beginning the process of reconciling with his parents.

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