The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

by Mark Haddon

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What are the metafictional moments in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and their importance?

Quick answer:

The metafictional moments in the play version of Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time occur when Christopher’s teacher reads excerpts from his narrative to set up and explain the action in the scenes. These excerpts allow the audience access to Christopher’s own perspective about the events.

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In The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon, the technique of metafiction has a prominent place. Let’s begin by defining metafiction, and then we’ll look at how it works in the story.

Metafiction occurs when a work of literature refers to itself as a work of literature in some way. It takes a step back and stands outside of itself for a moment so the audience can see that it is a literary work and judge its effectiveness as a literary work.

In Haddon’s work, Christopher is actually writing his own story. In the book version, this is the story we read. Christopher is presenting the account of his own adventures in his own words as an assignment. So the book we are reading calls attention to itself as a book. This is metafiction.

The same motif holds true in the play version of the story. Here, Christopher’s teacher, Siobhan, reads excerpts from Christopher’s narrative to set up and comment on the scenes. These excerpts, which are told in the first person from Christopher’s point of view, are interspersed with the action of each scene. They are metafictional moments that allow the audience to have Christopher’s first-hand perspective on the scenes they are watching unfold before them.

They also give us a strong sense of Christopher’s character and challenges. The scenes would not have been nearly as effective without Christopher’s own words, yet having them read by the teacher places extra emphasis on the story-about-the-story while eliminating the potential for confusion between Christopher the narrator and Christopher the actor in his own story.

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