The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

by Mark Haddon

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How is Christopher treated by society in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time?

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Christopher John Francis Boone, the protagonist of Mark Haddon's book The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, is not always understood by society and Christopher definitely neither understands nor likes society.

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Christopher John Francis Boone, the protagonist of Mark Haddon's book The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, is not always understood by society, and Christopher definitely neither understands nor likes society. Christopher is a fifteen-year-old boy who has a form of autism, Asperger's syndrome. Christopher is a mathematical genius, and he is constantly working his difficult way through the weird world of social and human behavior.

Christopher has a friend at his school, Siobhan, who is his counselor. She has shown him a series of pictorial "smiley's" with various emotional faces printed on them to help him understand emotional moods. Christopher relates that he understands sad and happy best. He is always happy when "I am still awake at 3 a.m. or 4 a.m. in the morning and I can walk up and down the street and pretend that I am the only person in the whole world." He prefers a world where there are no other people around, but there always are.

Christopher's family, and his friends and teachers at school, understand him and know how to interact with him. His father and mother, for instance, know that Christopher does not like to be touched, and the closest thing to a hug that he will offer is for them to press a couple of fingers together with him, for a moment. But if a stranger or anyone else comes up and touches him on the shoulder, he will freak out, shake the person away violently, or even strike them.

Early in the story, Christopher discovers that his neighbor's dog has been killed with a gardening fork. As he mourns the body of the dog, his neighbor calls the police. A policeman questions Christopher, trying to figure out who killed the dog and suspicious about how upset the boy is. Christopher is upset now because, "He was asking too many questions and he was asking them too quickly. They were stacking up in my head like loaves in the factory where Uncle Terry works."

Christopher starts to short-circuit and rolls onto the ground, groaning. The policeman takes hold of him to pull him to his feet, and Christopher hits the policeman. For this, he is taken to jail. Christopher, while he waits for his father to pick him up, actually likes his jail cell and its sharp, clean, mathematical dimensions. His father shows up, and the two of them interviewed by a policeman, who finally understands why Christopher hit an officer when he was touched. Christopher is given a caution for this "accident," though the super-logical boy points out that it wasn't actually an accident. Christopher's father hurries him out of the police station.

Christopher's encounter with the police is a good example of how he is treated by society. At first glance, people do not know about his Asperger's. And even if they know about autism, they may not know how to interact with an autistic person. People tend to judge one another by their behavior without knowing what lies beneath, and Christopher's behavior is sometimes outside of the neurotypical social box.

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