Like all well-written books, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, by Mark Haddon, generates many questions and ideas from many different angles. The purpose of this study guide is to expose you to as many of these questions, ideas, and angles as possible, in order to stimulate your interest, encourage you to re-read passages, and engage you in the book’s complexity as you examine it by yourself or discuss it with others. By reading the book this summer, and by using this study guide, you will be amply prepared for the Discussion Event on August 27th!
How to Use This Study Guide
• This is a study guide, not an examination or test! As you read through this guide, take note of the questions and ideas that pique your curiosity and that encourage you to explore your interests more fully. • Spend 10 minutes reading through the entire study guide, not just part of it, before looking at the questions in more detail. Each section of questions takes you through major aspects of the book and through passages and chapters that are memorable. Then, once you’ve familiarized yourself with this guide, go back to each section in the guide. Recommended time spent on this study guide: 1 hour. • As you read the book and use this study guide, share your experience and ideas with others. • Bring the study guide with you, along with any notes you may have taken, to the Discussion Event on August 27. You are not required to take notes on the book prior to this Discussion Event, but you are guaranteed to have a better grasp of the book if you do jot down some notes before you arrive on campus. (And because you’ll be taking lots of notes during your university years for all of your classes, you might get into the habit of doing this now, with this book…!)
First: An important, 5-minute task
Christopher Boone, the narrator of The Curious Incident, is unique. Everything about the novel – its plot, pacing, dialogue, characterization, perspectives, ideas, format, style, themes, and motifs – takes its cues from this unusual and engaging narrator. Because Christopher is autistic, the very first thing that you will want to do is to spend 5 minutes on-line, looking up Autism and a related cognitive condition, Asperger’s Syndrome, on the web. Knowing something about these conditions will enable you to appreciate Christopher’s “take” on life and to understand more fully how and why he sees things the way he does.
General Questions about your Reading Experience
The following questions ask you about your impressions – your “gut” response or your subjective response – to the novel. These questions also ask you to explore how this book may or may not be different from other stories that you have read. Read the six questions listed here, attempting to formulate answers, in your mind, to as many as you can.
1. What was your first impression upon reading the first few pages of this novel? 2. In what ways did your first impression about the book change, as you continued to read the story? Why did it change? If your first impressions did not change, why is this the case? 3. What made reading this book an unusual, engaging, and sometimes challenging experience? 4. It is safe to say that most of you have not read a book such as this one before. Because you haven’t, the novel will strike you as “different” in many ways. In what ways is this novel different from many of the other novels or short stories that you have read? Examine everything about the novel, from its style (word choice, voice, sentence structure, and sentence length) and characterization, to its plot and formatting (e.g., chapter numbers, use of italics, boldfacing, etc.) and make a list in your mind, or on paper, of all the ways in which this novel does NOT fit your usual idea of a novel. 5. Despite the novel’s many oddities, the author of the work, Mark...