The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time
This book by Mark Haddon is set in 1998 in the town of Swindon, England.
The main protagonist in this book is Christopher Boone, a unique boy with special needs who's main goal throughout the novel is to find the answers to questions that arise during his investigation of the murder of his neighbor's dog Wellington. To describe him, he can be very brilliant but clueless at times. His most defining characteristic is his lack of understanding/imagining thoughts and feelings of other people, due to his disability. For example, he cannot understand whether someone is speaking in a sarcastic tone and he isn't able to recognize or determine a person's mood based purely on facial expressions. While the book doesn't touch on what exact special need Christopher has, we as readers can infer that he has a type of autism-related disorder and difficulty with social interaction. Another characteristic that defines him would be his obsession with numbers, mathematics, and science. He is so intrigued by this because he likes how there is one clear answer, unlike real life where there may not be one answer or any answer at all. The quote, "Mr. Jeavons said that I liked math because it was safe. He said I liked maths because it meant solving problems, and these problems were difficult and interesting but there always was a straightforward answer at the end. And what he meant was that maths wasn't like life because in life there are no straightforward answers in the end.(Chapter 101)" shows how Christopher feels. His social problems make it uneasy for him to understand people and he continuously misleads them or he misunderstands what someone is implying. His biggest desire throughout the novel is to become more independent and gain confidence in himself to be able to function "normally". Examples of this desire would be when Christopher disobeyed his father by not stopping his investigation. This showed that Christopher didn't want to rely on what someone else told him to do. Another example of independence was how he plans to go to college and live by himself while he is there. By him wanting to live alone and learn all by himself, he showed that he didn't want to depend on people for help or sympathy. By the end of the novel, he realizes that he has overcome his disadvantages and achieved his goal to be more independent and self-sufficient.
The author uses the literary elements of theme and characterization to develop the plot of his novel. These elements help to give important details about the character and keep a constant message throughout the book. Characterization is a key part in this novel to help describe and understand Christopher and his special needs. The constant theme of independence is also very important in this novel because it is needed to show how Christopher grows as a character and becomes what he desires to be. These elements are shown right from the beginning when Christopher finds the body of Wellington, his next door neighbor Mrs. Shear's dog who was stabbed and killed. He is inspired by his love of mystery to find out who murdered the poodle, even when his autism interrupts his search. This constant struggle holds him back but not enough for him to stop. His journey to find answers made him overcome and learn to deal with his social anxiety, thus creating self confidence. In a way, he is a dynamic character by becoming more independent throughout the book and we see him growing his strength against the difficulties he faces.
I would recommend this book to read because of it's originality and it's interesting ability to capture the thought process of a boy with special needs. This book makes us as readers feel the protagonist's struggle and feel sympathetic toward Christopher for having to go through many questions, lies, and difficulties to find the answers he needed . This book succeeds at being a very different book from any other and having a decent plot to follow. It also rings true to what we believe people with disabilities may think. What I think that people may not like about this book is that it is hard to understand how someone like Christopher thinks and acts throughout the novel. The digressions may draw people away because it could take away from the actual plot of the novel, but they serve to give more details about the characters. I praise this book for those reasons.