Letter About "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime"

Dear Teacher, This summer was my second time reading The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon, as I previously read it two years ago. I enjoyed reading the book again and feel that I appreciated it even more the second time. This was due to the fact that, since I had already read the story once, I paid more attention to smaller details such as the footnotes and Christopher’s thoughts on various scientific matters. For me, one of the most unique aspects of this book, and the thing that really drew me in to the story, was the perspective and distinctive voice of Christopher, the main character and narrator. I thought that one of the best features of the book was how although it began as a murder mystery about a dog, Christopher’s numerous anecdotes and tangents allowed the reader to connect with Christopher and better understand how his mind works.

After describing finding Wellington, Christopher that he likes dogs because “you always know what a dog is thinking… and they do not tell lies because they cannot talk.” This gives insight into Christopher’s struggle to understand and communicate with other people as well as his preference for animals. For example, in the second chapter of the book he discusses how he has trouble recognizing human emotions beyond the most basic two, happy and sad, making it difficult to connect to people. He got Siobhan to draw several expressions on a piece of paper and referenced it when talking to people. “It was very difficult to decide which of the diagrams was most like the face they were making because people’s faces move very quickly.

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” I thought this was one of the main chapters that laid the foundation for Christopher’s character, explaining why he prefers solitude and being around animals to interacting with other people. Although Haddon never states it outright, it is clear that Christopher has Asperger’s syndrome, a higher-functioning form of autism. It is shown from the start of the novel that Christopher is not mentally stable from the way he describes finding Wellington and picking him up. Details throughout the book, from the way he introduces himself as knowing “all the countries of the world and their capital cities and every prime number up to 7057” to his concrete definition of loving someone, “helping them when they get into trouble, and looking after them, and telling them the truth” confirm the suspicion that he has Asperger’s. I appreciated how realistically Haddon portrayed Christopher’s mental disorder.

He gave specific examples of how Christopher’s behavior is different from most 15-year-old children, for instance “not talking to people for a long time,” putting his head on the floor and “groaning,” and “not liking yellow and brown things and refusing to touch yellow and brown things.” He showed the emotional disconnection as well as the various symptoms such as absolute focus on a few topics, particularity about certain things, the need for physical space, the way he “can’t tell lies” and the desire to be alone. I was also continually reminded of the fact that although Christopher is highly intelligent, in many ways his mental age is much younger than his physical one. Haddon achieved this by often having Christopher hide in small places, making us think he was 9 or 10, not 15. For instance, when he is on the train to London, Christopher hides in the luggage storage rack. “I climbed onto the middle shelf and I pulled one of the cases across like a door, so I was shut in.

” In moments like this it is hard to remember that Christopher is actually my age, making it hard to making it hard to put myself into his place and connect with his character. While I could not really relate to any of the characters in the book, I was able to picture the setting of London and imagine being there, as I recently visited London. For example, Christopher described the tunnel right before the train arrived, when he “could feel a strong wind and a roaring started and [he] closed his eyes and the roaring got louder” and I was able to imagine being in that tunnel and experiencing the same feeling. I related to many of Christopher’s other descriptions, especially in London, in the same way. Additionally, I loved how the book felt as though Christopher wrote it, instead of the first person point of view simply being a way for the author to share his thoughts. Early on in the story, he is talking about the book and says, “And that is when I started writing this.

” Throughout the novel, he shares his experiences and thoughts pertaining to actually writing the book. For instance, early on he shares that “this will not be a funny book” because he thinks too literally to understand jokes. The extent of Christopher’s emotional disconnect was quite disturbing at times, even though I understood that this was due to his mental disorder. When his father tells him his mother is in the hospital, instead of demanding to see her, he only says that they “will need to take food to her” and that he “would make her a Get Well card.” Then, when he is told that his mother died of a heart attack, instead of breaking down and crying, Christopher asks “What kind of heart attack?” and says “it was probably an aneurism.

” Christopher clearly does not feel the usual emotions of love and worry and grief that one would expect from a child when a parent goes to the hospital or dies. Although I understand what drove him to do it, I was also disturbed by the way Christopher’s father was able to keep the fact that his mom was alive and left him a secret for so long, telling Christopher that she died of a heart attack. While he was by no means perfect and lost his temper during incidences throughout the book, Christopher’s father seems like a good person who genuinely loves his son and is able to care for him, even with his difficult needs. Since Christopher dislikes physical contact, to show his affection, Christopher’s father “spread his fingers out in a fan” and they “made [their] fingers and thumbs touch each other.” While the lies are unsettling, the reader is able to recognize his motives, protecting Christopher and also selfishly punishing Christopher’s mother for abandoning them.

All in all, I really loved The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime and would like to read other books by Mark Haddon in the future. The writing style and voice was so different from almost all of the other books I have read and it was so fascinating to be able to see the thought process of a person with Asperger’s syndrome. I have already recommended this book to several people and will continue to recommend it. Sincerely, R. P.