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11GEN - The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time: Home

Summary:

Christopher is 15 and lives in Swindon with his father. He has Asperger's Syndrome, a form of autism. He is obsessed with maths, science and Sherlock Holmes but finds it hard to understand other people. When he discovers a dead dog on a neighbour's lawn he decides to solve the mystery and write a detective thriller about it. As in all good detective stories, however, the more he unearths, the deeper the mystery gets - for both Christopher and the rest of his family.

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Coming of age novel:

Bildungsroman is the combination of two German words: Bildung, meaning "education," and Roman, meaning "novel." Fittingly, a "bildungsroman" is a novel that deals with the formative years of the main character - in particular, his or her psychological development and moral education. The bildungsroman usually ends on a positive note with the hero's foolish mistakes and painful disappointments over and a life of usefulness ahead.

Characteristics include:

  • A search for meaning by the protagonist, who is usually foolish and inexperienced at the beginning of the narrative. The story typically centers on the maturation process of a single person.
  • Some kind of inciting incident that pushes the protagonist into their journey. It's usually something akin to a great emotional loss, like the death of a parent.
  • The journey will not be easy. In fact, there will be many failures along the way. The hero will be tested, and he will fight tooth and nail to survive the unwavering rules and limits of society.
  • Usually an epiphany, or a flashing moment where the hero finally 'gets it.' This lucidity changes them as a person. They learn what it takes to be a grown up in the real world.
  • The hero will eventually find his place in society by accepting its values and rules. The ending isn't necessarily about closure. We often do not know exactly what's going to happen to the hero. We do know that he has grown as a person from page one, and at the very least he is equipped with the maturity and knowledge to have a chance in life.

Black humour:

Comedy that uses satire to lighten unpleasant or taboo subjects is called black (or dark) humour. How can Christopher’s interviews be considered black humour? 

Online encyclopaedias:

Online encyclopaedias are great for short, concise and reliable information. It may be best to access these articles from the Online encyclopaedias page through the Hale portal. Ready made citations are available.



 
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Characteristics of autism:

How does being autistic equip Christopher to best solve the mystery presented in this text? What skills and attributes are required to live, work, or interact effectively with Christopher because of this condition? What devices does the author use to convey what life is like for Christopher throughout this book?

Online databases:

A online collection of magazine and newspaper articles as well as interview transcripts, images and videos. You can sort your results by publication, full text versions and even date. Online databases are available through the portal and many require specific login details.

Both EBSCOhost and Gale INFOTRAC have specialized databases so use these first. 

Suggested articles would include:

  • The curious incident of the dog in the night-timeThe article discusses an incident in a young boy's life. The incident refers to his visit to a police station for killing a dog. The policemen made him take out his shoe laces and empty his pocket. The boy said that his pocket had things like a Swiss knife, a piece of string, wooden puzzle and a pellet of rat food. The boy was questioned about his family. He then describes the police cell where he was placed for some time. Later the father of the boy came to his rescue. His father asked him if he has actually killed the dog. The boy refused it. The article investigates the whole process by unraveling feelings of the boy and the way he looks at the world.

  • Postmodern Investigations: The Case of Christopher Boone in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time: Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, the first novel to be published simultaneously for the UK adult and children’s market, exemplifies the phenomenon of crossover literature better perhaps than the “Harry Potter” series, whose appeal to a dual-aged audience had caught the publishing industry by surprise. This article identifies Haddon’s engagement with the genre of detective fiction as one of the reasons for the novel’s crossover success: while the mystery plot offers a compelling narrative “hook” for children and adults alike, the postmodern twists on the detective formula open up deeper levels of satisfaction, without alienating the less experienced members of the audience. Analysed within the context of contemporary crime fiction, Curious Incident also appears to be tapping into a relatively recent literary trend that sees detective novels focusing on young characters as victims, witnesses and even perpetrators of crimes—itself a reflection of our changing attitudes towards the Romantic view of childhood as an age of innocence.

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Literary elements:

Literary elements in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time:

Can you think of any others?

Themes:

Websites: Play

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Mark Haddon:

Characters:

  • inability to imagine the thoughts and feelings of other people
  • cannot empathize
  • cannot imagine what another person is thinking
  • cannot read people’s expressions
  • difficulty understanding metaphors
  • fixation on certain topics
  • gifted in math and science but severely underequipped socially
  • dislikes social interaction and avoids it when possible
  • recognizes the ways he differs from most people and feels keenly aware of these differences
  • lives as an outsider as social interactions seen as pointless
  • very few friends and doesn’t trust other people
  • remarkably accurate memory allows him to recall an entire event in extraordinary detail, uses this skill to navigate social interactions by memorizing a chart of facial expressions and the emotions associated with them

BBC Learning : Who is Christopher?

  • often goes to extremes when demonstrating his emotions, occasionally blowing up in anger
  • lacks the confidence to work through his problems verbally
  • has very few friends—Rhodri is the only one the novel mentions
  • emotionally devastated by the way his relationship with his wife (Christopher’s mother) ended two years earlier
  • suppresses emotions until he explodes in anger during stressful situations
  • lovingly and diligently cares for Christopher
  • struggles with the frustration he feels as a result of not always being able to understand Christopher’s behaviour
  • extremely protective of Christopher
  • desires to punish Christopher’s mother for the way she left leads him to lie to Christopher about mother’s leaving
  • fearful that his relationship with Christopher is deteriorating as more lies are exposed
  • must work to regain Christopher’s trust and reestablish a relationship with Christopher

BBC Learning : Christopher and Ed

  • For most of the novel, our only view of Christopher’s mother comes through Christopher’s memories
  • Christopher remembers her as:
    • loving but impatient
    • prone to breakdowns in the face of his tantrums
    • unable to cope with the harsh realities of Christopher’s condition
    • possibly depressed
  • Judy receives a momentary turn as the narrator
  • only instance in the novel when see a first-person point of view other than Christopher’s
  • In her letters:
    • she exhibits the patience that she lacked in her face-to-face interactions with him
    • tells Christopher in the letters that she left him and his father because she thought they would be happier without her
    • intense frustration she felt with Christopher and her inability to deal with his behavior
  • In person:
    • strong-willed and independent
    • still finds dealing with Christopher extremely difficult because of his rigid needs and sometimes inappropriate behaviour
    • loves Christopher but also has doubts about her ability to take care of him

BBC Learning: Christopher and Judy

  • Christopher’s primary teacher
  • most understanding adult of Christopher’s needs and strengths
  • explains appropriate social behavior in a way that helps Christopher and respects his intelligence
  • Christopher often references Siobhan’s advice when navigating difficult situations
  • Helps Christopher with writing his mystery book
  • gives Christopher detailed instructions about his behavior
  • Christopher appreciates her which explains why Christopher seems to trust Siobhan and behave better with her than any other characters
  • interactions offer an insightful contrast to Christopher’s tumultuous relationship with his parents

BBC Learning : Christopher and Siobhan

Read-A-Likes:

Reference Generator:

It is important to provide evidence of using a variety of reliable resources. Use the online Reference Generator available through the Portal to create your citations. Make sure you alphabetically sort them afterwards. Click here for a Hale School guide to referencing.

A sample bibliography for 3 resources suggested on this page would look like:

Autism 2020. Britannica School. Retrieved 13 February 2020, from https://school.eb.com.au/levels/high/article/autism/11351

Autism Spectrum Disorder Fact Sheet 2019, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, viewed 13 February 2020, <https://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/patient-caregiver-education/fact-sheets/autism-spectrum-disorder-fact-sheet>.

Hibrow 2014, Mark Haddon on Writing, 9 December, viewed 13 February 2020, <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QW51D4YdCDY>.