“The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nigh-Time” is a novel narrating the story of Christopher Boone, a fifteen-year-old, who is a gifted mathematician. Christopher is a problematic child who suffers from Asperger’s syndrome and does not condone people from touching him. He shuns fatherly touch although he is aware that his father loves him very much. This lack of proper communication between the two has prompted them to develop signs for passing messages to one another. For instance, Christopher’s father holding out his hand with fingers spread means that he loves Christopher and would like to hug him. Christopher responds by stretching out his hand and allowing his fingers to touch his father’s. Besides, he likes lists, numbers, patterns and Sherlock Holmes. He dislikes colours brown and yellow, as well as liars. Christopher has difficulties understanding various facial expressions and hand gestures. He also has a liking for dogs, and this is evident in the passage where he says, “I like dogs. You always know what a dog is thinking. It has four moods. Happy, sad, cross and concentrating” (Haddon 4). Christopher also finds people confusing. He experiences intermittent periods of confusion and occasionally bangs his head on walls during severe episodes of misperception. Sometimes he ends up hitting people during such incidences.
As well, Christopher is a sincere person and likes straightforward persons as well. He is loyal like a dog. One of the people he trusts most is Siobhan who works with him at school. The novel begins with a scene where Christopher discovers a deceased dog in the garden of his neighbour, Mr. Shear. Christopher is enthusiastic about the dog and decides to investigate the cause of its death. His enthusiasm is driven by the desire to emulate his hero, Sherlock Holmes. Even though his father is against this idea, Christopher proceeds by his plan to uncover the truth concerning the cause of the dog’s death. He even uses the help of his best friend Siobhan to write a book about the process. Christopher discovers other secrets while undertaking the investigation.
Firstly, he learns about the whereabouts of his mother whom he thought was dead. Christopher’s father had told him his mother died a long time ago. However, this was a lie because his mother was still alive and residing in London. Christopher later ascertains the identity of the dog’s killer, his father. After this discovery, Christopher no longer trusts his father but perceives him as a liar and a cold-blooded killer. He leaves home and travels to London with his pet rat Toby to search for his mother. While in London, Christopher finds his mother and tells her about his ordeals and the lies about her demise. Christopher goes to sleep and wakes up when he hears the shouts of his father. His father enters the room and tries to apologize. However, Christopher refuses to talk to him and insists that he reunites with his mother. Christopher decides to leave London after failing to acclimatize with the life and returns to Swindon where he sits for an A-level Mathematics examination. The novel ends with him passing the exam and realizes that he can achieve anything if he works hard.
“The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” is a good educational book for children with mental disorders. The key lesson we learn from the book is that various ways in which parents behave and conduct themselves can be enigmatic and perplexing to many children. The young Christopher Boone is mystified by human behaviour and cannot resist the urge to explore the roots of their deeds. Christopher lacks the skills to comprehend human emotions despite him being talented in technical fields like math. The reader first encounters the character’s brilliance in chapter three where he introduces himself: “My name is Christopher John Francis Boone. I know all the countries of the world and their capital cities and every prime number up to 7057” (Haddon 3).
Additionally, the author has chosen an unlikely narrator to represent the main character. It is rare for writers to use children or individuals with autism to represent primary characters. In this case, Mark Haddon uses Christopher to represent the plight of children and people with mental disorders in society. By reading this book, the reader takes a journey with Christopher through his everyday life. The book enables the reader to understand how children with autism view the world and the living and non-living things in it. Even so, it is evident that Christopher has minimum knowledge about how the world functions. However, his perfect imitation of victims of mental disorders enables the adult readers to correctly understand and comprehend the effects of feelings, deceits, and intrigue of the grown-up’s world. Christopher is open-minded and does not judge the wrongdoers. The disruption only exasperates him their actions cause to the traditional social beliefs and norms. Therefore, by reading this book, adults can comprehend the impacts of their immoral behaviours on the psychological growth of healthy children and those with mental complications. This book provides a different viewpoint on the failings and shortcomings of human beings, where grownups can often behave childishly and petulantly like children to invoke positive emotions.
I like the book titled “An Unquiet Mind” by Ray Redfield Jamison compared to “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nigh-Time” by Mark Haddon. The former is a memoir which attempts to eliminate the stigma surrounding people with borderline disorders. The author, Jamison, detest the name “bipolar disorder” because it does not properly delineate the difference between depression and manic depression. Jamison’s memoir distinguishes the various psychological disorders and attempts to eliminate stigmatization associated with such health complications. In Jamison’s memoir, a disorder is humanized while in Haddon’s book where a disorder is debased. “An Unquiet Mind” offers a unique and genuine perspective on manic-depression. The authenticity of this book is supported by the fact that the author not only the narrator but also the patient. Hence, he is in a better position to discuss the plight of mental health patients. The book is not only a memoir but also a literary work that aims to sensitize people about mental health. The author connects with the reader as a medic by applying the current medical data to help to de-stigmatize manic-depression. The novel also personifies Jamison as an author with pulsating and moving phraseology.
Further, Jamison’s memoir portrays her as the patient or the victim of illness, and this humanizes her character. Despite her weaknesses, relationships and condition, she is still a human being who deserves love and respect, and most importantly, care. Weakness is central to the humanizing process. For example, Jamison does not shy away from speaking about her condition. In the memoir, she gathers strength and tells her chairman at the hospital where she works about her sickness. She says: “It was not without a sense of dread that I waited for his response to my telling him that I needed to discuss the issue at my hospital privileges” (Jamison 209). From the book, we learn that people fear admitting their susceptibilities because they dread that their freedoms will be threatened.
Haddon’s novel, on the other hand, creates awareness on the existence of psychological disorders. However, this book does not elaborately define the various mental infections and risk factors. Besides, the trustworthiness of Christopher, the narrator, is in doubt. Christopher is not entirely sincere about his actions, unlike Jamison who openly and honestly describes the positive impacts of her behaviour. This insincerity is evident in the passage where Christopher says: “And I said, I have been out. This is called a called a white lie. A white lie is not a lie at all. It is where you tell the truth, but you do not tell all the truth” (Haddon 73). In this phrase, Christopher implies that he tells lies sometimes, but does not consider it a big deal because they are kind of lie and kind of not lying. However, it is clear that the lies and the other things he does perceive as bad make him an untrustworthy narrator.
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