The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

by Mark Haddon

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Discussion Topic

The main themes and messages in Mark Haddon's novel, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Summary:

The main themes in Mark Haddon's novel The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time include the challenges of living with autism, the complexity of family relationships, and the search for truth. The novel explores how the protagonist, Christopher, navigates his world with a unique perspective, highlighting both his struggles and strengths, as well as the impact of his condition on his family.

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What is the main theme in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time?

"The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time" is primarily known as a story about an autistic boy and about the structure of his world and the way he makes sense of things around him.  So little is known about autism but its incidence and diagnosis appears to be increasing at a rapid rate and this novel attempts to show what the inner workings of a young boy with autism are like.

The story demonstrates some of the Christopher's habits that are considered abnormal, habitual counting, a very straight-forward view of things without nuance, his difficulty in reading and reacting to emotions in other people as well as a lack of corresponding emotions within himself.  All of these go along with the very complex character of Christopher and help to point out what some consider flaws while also pointing out the great strength that he has which other children lack or do not develop.

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What are some of the messages and themes portrayed in Mark Haddon's novel, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time?

I liked this book. I have worked with many children who have autism (people first language, please) and Haddon does a good job of expressing what is known about the functioning of an atypical thinker. But if you are really interested in the topic, read any of Temple Grandin's work, or Born on a Blue Dayby Daniel Tammet. Both of these authors have autism; Tammet is the subject of a very interesting program that shows every now and then on (I think) Discovery Channel, called "Brain Man". Tammet, among other wild abilities like memorizing pi (seven hours worth), learned to speak Icelandic in a week. Grandin has a PhD in Animal Science, and makes some very interesting comparisons between the way her brain works, and the way she believes animals' do.

In general, all the books including Haddon's, make the point that there are different ways of thinking, and different ways that human brains function. Understanding that, makes it easier for everyone understand and be understood by others.

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What are some of the messages and themes portrayed in Mark Haddon's novel, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time?

It's been awhile since I've read this. It was actually given to me by a parent of autistic twins. I taught one of her sons sophomore year, & the other was in my AP Language class his junior year. One of the ideas I took from my reading was to be conscious of my words and actions around everyone, but to be especially aware of how I may be interpreted. Because it is told from the autistic boy's pov, it portrays one possible scenario of thought processes. It helped me to realize that what I may have intended with my words may not necessarily be the outcome. Metaphors and abstract sayings are sometimes particularly confusing for autistic students, as many think on a very literal level.

The other aspect that stuck with me was the different associations that different brains have. I mean, everyone associates images, texts, scents, whatever in their own way, but I was very interested in the idea of motions and facial expression having colors attached to them. thining of smiles, for example, in terms of "yellow" or "red" was something new to me, & I tried to carry those extraordinary ways of thinking into my teaching.

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