The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

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The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time chronicles of Christopher Boone of Swindon, England. The book is written by Mark Haddon, who formerly worked with autistic individuals, describes the world through the eyes of Christopher, who is self-proclaimed “special needs”. The novel never explicitly says what Christopher’s diagnosis is, but from the text it is apparent that he would fall on the higher functioning end of the Autism Spectrum.

The book begins with, as the title suggests, a rather curious incident with the neighbor, Mrs. Shear’s poodle Wellington. Shortly after midnight, Christopher wanders over to Mrs. Shear’s yard only to find Wellington dead on the grass with what appears to be a pitchfork driven through his body. At this point Christopher is discovered by Mrs. Shears and the police are called. When the police begin asking questions of Christopher, he does not like it and ends up hitting the police officer and getting arrested for assault. Here begins a conflicted relationship for Christopher with police authority that continues for the rest of the novel. It is at the police station where we first meet Christopher’s father and primary care giver. For the rest of the novel Christopher tries to become a detective and solve the mystery of who killed Wellington and why.

As Christopher begins his adventures in detective work he decides to chronicle the Wellington case in a novel he begins to write. Christopher is assisted in his authorship by Siobhan who is part teacher, part psychologist, part friend. Siobhan works with Christopher at his school for special needs. Christopher looks to Siobhan for a great deal of support and guidance. She is one of, if not ultimately the most, trusted figure in Christopher’s life. She assists Christopher when he has difficulties understanding the nuisances of the world around. Siobhan almost functions as an interpreter to translate Christopher’s understanding of the world into one that is more healthy and appropriate. Siobhan also serves as a positive and authoritative female figure in Christopher’s life in the absence of his mother.

It is perhaps due in part to Siobhan’s influence that Christopher experiences such success at school. Christopher could be described as exhibiting almost Savant-like characteristics. His favorite subjects are math (or maths) and science, most especially physics and aeronautics. He even wants to be an astronaut when he grows up. Christopher’s successes in “maths” are a main focus in the novel. In the book Christopher tries to become the first “special needs” from his school to take the A-level math exam. Although the novel does not explicitly specify the value and prestige of such an exam, it is clear by the way Christopher speaks of the test that it is an exam of great importance. Throughout the book through both words and pictures, Christopher uses mathematical concepts and problems to help relate his own concerns and adventures to the reader. But perhaps the most unique effect Christopher’s fascination with the mathematical has on Curious Incident is in the numbering of the book’s chapters. Instead of the traditional 1,2,3 numbering system, Christopher opts instead to number the chapters by prime numbers. He chooses this because he believes prime numbers are “life like. They are very logical but you could never work out all the rules even if you spent all your time thinking about it.” (Haddon, p 12). This comment alone speaks volumes of Christopher’s understanding and interpretation of the world that surrounds him. Although he tries desperately day in and day out to understand the world he cannot grasp everything that is happening. And although he is as much a part of the world as anyone else, it is almost as if he will never be anything but an outsider.

As the novel unfolds Christopher begins his detective work to discover who killed Wellington, against his father’s wishes. Mr. Boone repeatedly...
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