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The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time Argumentative Essay Sample

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The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time Argumentative Essay Sample

Mark Haddon presents the character of Christopher throughout the book in a number of different ways using different techniques; like through his Asperger’s syndrome, the contrasting themes of lies and truth, Christopher’s family life and his intelligence. The whole book is written is first person – from Christopher’s point of view – as it is a personal account of a part of his life. This adds to the appeal of the book as it allows you to see into someone else’s life and mind that is completely different from your own.

A key way that Christopher is presented is through his Asperger’s syndrome. Asperger’s is a form of autism and makes Christopher see the world differently. Because of his Asperger’s syndrome, Christopher has never been beyond the end of his road alone, this reflects his personality in that is a very enclosed person; he keeps himself to himself and doesn’t like to be touched or be very open with anyone. Another aspect of Christopher that reflects his personality is the way he speaks and his use of language. Haddon has really made Christopher have a unique and special diction as we see on page 8 of the book where Christopher is having a conversation with a police officer and his specific lexis is clearly demonstrated –

“I like dogs.” I said.

“Did you kill the dog?” he asked.

I said, “I did not kill the dog.”

“Is this your fork?” he asked.

I said, “No.”

We can see that Christopher is very logical and sequential in his speech patterns. He also pays a lot of attention to detail, ensuring that he includes all the details even though they are not necessarily important.

A further feature that Haddon explores of Christopher’s Asperger’s is that he finds it very difficult to understand people’s emotions. He copes with this by explaining his feelings through other ways suchs as maths, as we see on page 168:

“Fear total Fear new place Fear near father constant”

He also uses similes – “my memory is like a film” – this is because he finds it easier to compare things rather than explaining them. But perhaps the most important part of is Asperger’s is the fact that he cannot lie.

A crucial part of the effect that the Asperger’s syndrome has on Christopher is that it makes him incapable of lying. Mark Haddon uses this as a key way to present Christopher. We are told from a very early point in the book that Christopher cannot tell lies. This makes us believe that everything Christopher tells us is true, but we soon find out that the book is far from based on the truth. It is ironic that Haddon uses a character that cannot lie to mislead the reader. Furthermore, it is paradoxical that Haddon chose a protagonist to be a person that cannot lie in a book based on lies. Mark Haddon often uses humour in the book to highlight or emphasise an important event and often achieves this through Christopher’s honesty; ‘a lady…took the big suitcase away and she said, “Have you touched this?” And I said, “Yes.” And then she went away.’ But there is also a great contrast in the book between Christopher’s honesty and his family life that is corrupted by lies.

Mark Haddon uses Christopher’s family life and the effect it has on him to present his character. Christopher’s parents split up because there is no trust left in the marriage and his mother can’t cope. When his mother leaves, Christopher’s father lies to him by telling him that his mother is dead as he thinks, at the time, that it is the best thing to do. However, I think that one of the points Mark Haddon tries to get across in the book is that we have to accept our lives and that our only escape is not to run away, but to learn to love the people we are and the situation in which we find ourselves; as Christopher says himself – “people go on holiday to see new things…but I think that there are so many things in one house that it would take years to think about all of them properly.” This is similar to how Jane Austen wrote ‘Pride and Prejudice’ because she also took a non descript life but wrote about it in a way that made it interesting to read about, which is what Mark Haddon wanted to do with ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time’.

Throughout the book, Christopher looks up to his father and completely trusts him. However, Christopher discovers his father has been lying to him, “I did it for your good, Christopher. Honestly I did. I never meant to lie.” This turns Christopher’s world upside-down as the safe and stable life he led has been taken away from him. After the trust between Christopher and his father has gone, he leaves home to find his mother. For a boy that has never been beyond the end of his road alone before this is a daunting task. But the journey turns out to be not just a journey from Swindon to London, but a journey of self discovery for Christopher and during this journey the reader feels even more connected with Christopher. Mark Haddon achieves this with a number of devices – on page 208 there is a whole paragraph written with no punctuation, but is linked together with the repeating word “and”. This increases the speed at which the reader reads and we feel the same panic that Christopher does. This makes the reader feel involved and emotionally connected with Christopher. After the suspense of the journey, when Christopher finally reaches his mother’s apartment we feel relieved for him and share in his sense of achievement.

The author subsequently uses Christopher’s intelligence to present him. Throughout the book we see Christopher grow as a person and his self-confidence develops, “I was brave and I wrote a book and that means I can do anything.” But throughout the whole book we see Christopher’s intelligence demonstrated in different ways. When asked his age he replied with, “I am 15 years and 3 months and 2 days.” But his almost obsessive attention to details often gives people the impression that he is mocking them. This gives the reader the impression he is a very misunderstood character which evokes our sympathy. Christopher says at the beginning of the book – “I am going to prove that I am not stupid.” Again, it is ironic that people perceive Christopher as stupid when in fact he is incredibly intelligent.

Throughout the book, Mark Haddon presents Christopher through a number of different devices. The most important out of these I think is the effect his family life has on him: the contrast between Christopher’s need to tell the truth and the lies surrounding his family. I think the purpose of this is to show how fragile the stability of home life is for children and how it can be corrupted by lies. It also shows the adverse effect things such as broken homes can have on children.

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