The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

by Mark Haddon

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In The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, is a loving family necessary for Christopher?

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It is clear that a loving family is necessary for Christopher. He would recognize this himself if he were to consider the issue, since although he lacks empathy, he is highly logical. Christopher needs a great deal of support. Even his mother and father, who do love him, find that giving him this support places a great strain on them, which can seem intolerable. His mother feels herself forced to leave without telling Christopher, while his father is driven to measures which are even more extreme in their way, such as killing a dog and pretending that his wife is dead.

The obvious contrasts with Christopher's mother and father are Mr. and Mrs. Shears, neither of whom loves Christopher and both of whom find him impossible to tolerate. Christopher says that he used to like it when Mrs. Shears stayed with them, because she tidied things up (p. 43), but his presence put too much pressure on her relationship with his father, and they soon parted. Mr. Shears is even more vocal about his dislike of Christopher, accusing him of never thinking "about other people for one second" (p. 207). These reactions from people who do not love Christopher and refuse to support him demonstrate how trying he can be and show how much he needs a loving family, whether he realizes it or not.

Page references are to the Vintage paperback edition, first published in the USA in 2004.

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For Christopher Boone, a loving family environment is one of the most important things in the world. While this type of environment is important for anybody, it is particularly important for Christopher. This is due to the fact that, although the book never mentions the words "Autism" or "Asperger's Syndrome," it is obvious that Christopher has a high-functioning form of one of these conditions.

For somebody on the spectrum, unconditional love, stability, and a safe environment are essential. He has a number of quirks which make him unusual in societal terms, and it is of the utmost importance that he is surrounded by people who understand him or who are at least willing to attempt to understand him.

To list a few examples of Christopher's quirks, he cannot be touched, he finds fiction incredibly difficult to understand, he will not eat anything that is brown or yellow in color, and if he sees three red cars in a row on his way to school, he thinks it means that he will have a good day.

Christopher needs to be surrounded by people who understand that when he finds a situation difficult, he is not simply being disobedient or obstinate.

After Christopher's arrest, he and his father share an "I love you" gesture that the family has invented. It is clear that it is his father's loving and tolerant stance in raising Christopher that has made life bearable thus far.

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