The Curious Incident of the Dog in the
Night-time by Mark Haddon
Some things happen all the time like assessing the day in advance by the cars’ colour. I have written them down
only the first time they happen.
Christopher is a 15 years old boy living in Swindon, Wiltshire (GB). He knows many things and is very clever, but
he doesn’t understand the feelings of other people, because he only knows “being happy” or “being sad”. This
is the reason why he likes being alone and do maths or playing on the computer.
Christopher finds a dead dog, “Wellington”, in the neighbour’s garden and wonders who killed him. Because he
likes dogs, he strokes it. Mrs. Shears comes out of the house and accuses him for having killed the dog.
Because he cannot handle this situation, he just lies on the ground with his eyes closed and his hand pressed
against his ears.
“This is a murder mystery novel. Siobhan said I should write something I would want to read myself. “
11: The police
Christopher likes police officers, because they ask exact questions and there is just one answer.
After being questioned, the police officer asks him the same questions again, where after he presses his head
against the lawn again. As he did not answer anymore, the police officer grabbed his arm, where after
Christopher hits him.
“This will not be a funny book. I cannot tell jokes, because I do not understand them.”
Because the police officer just gives orders now like “sit in the car”, there are no further problems.
At the police station, he has to empty his pockets. The special thing about this is, that he knew everything by
heart and exactly how much money and in which coins he has. Something very special as well is that he likes
the cell: it is a perfect cube (2x2x2 meters).
The narrator says that he finds people very confusing, because they use metaphors like “I laughed my socks off.”
As soon as his father arrives at the police station, he is questioned again. Because he still answers the questions
very technically, he almost gets in trouble:
Policeman: “Did you mean to hit the policeman?” – Christopher: “Yes.”
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Theoretically, this is true; he did not want the police officer to touch him, so he hit him. So in fact the question is
wrong, it should be “Did you mean to hurt the policeman?”
They can finally leave the police station.
37: About lies
He defines a lie the following way: if you tell, something happened at a certain time and a certain place that did
not at all, not at this place, or not at this time.
He remarks that there are infinite lies: everything that did not happen. For him this is the reason why he does
not like novels.
He excuses himself for getting in trouble, although he simply cannot judge such situations correctly because of
“I didn’t know I was going to get into trouble.” p. 26
But the dog was still dead and he wants to find the offender, because for him dogs are just as important as
humans. The father does not want him to do try to find the murderer, because he could get in trouble again.
He tells us that his mother died 2 years ago and that his father told him not to visit her after she had to go to
the hospital because of problems with her heart.
47: Cars and their colour
3 red cars in a row quite a good day 5 red cars in a row super good day
4 red cars in a row good day 4 yellow cars in a row black day
He explains us that he likes things being in an order, although it is not very logical sometimes. He comes to the
point that everyone has such orders, e.g. his father always puts on his trousers before his socks or people feel
happy or sad because of the weather despite they work in an office. Moreover, this is necessary, otherwise you
could never decide between two things you do not know.
“Mr. Jeavons said that I was a very clever boy. I said that I wasn’t clever. I was just noticing how things were.
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He shows us again how inaccurate people are:
“Be quiet”, but how long?
“Keep off the grass”: around this sign or keep off all the grass in this park?
He knocks at Mrs. Shears’ door and tells her that he did not kill Wellington and that he wants to find out who
did. She just sends him away. Then he decides to look whether the fork was in the Mrs. Shears’ shed, but she
remarks and threatens to call the police again.
61: God & Unknown people
Mrs. Forbes, the school’s RE teacher, told him that his mother has gone to heaven after she died, but
Christopher cannot believe in god and heaven, so he explains what happens after you are dead.
Because of his handicap, he does not like to talk to strangers as long as he does not know them.
“(...) when there is a new member of staff at school I do not talk to them for weeks and week. I
just watch them until I know that they are save. Then I ask them questions about themselves.” p.
Then he started asking people in his street whether they have any idea who killed Wellington. So he got to
know Mrs. Alexander, but because he did not go into the house he walked away while she was getting cake and
orange squash for him, because he did not know what exactly she was doing. Later he thought through
everything again and came to the point that Mr. Shears is his new prime suspect, because he does not like Mrs.
Shears, they are divorced.
71: Maths A Grade and His Goal
He attends a special school for handicapped people and he is the only one who is intelligent there. He is proud
that he will most likely get his A grade in Maths in a month. He looks forward to go to university to study Maths
The chapter 73 is about his behavioural problems. I skip them here as they are discussed in detail later on.
Christopher dreams of becoming an astronaut. He thinks he is the optimal person for that: He is intelligent and
understands how machines work; he likes being alone and a lot more.
79: The end of the book
Christopher’s father got a phone call from Mrs. Shears and is quite angry, so Christopher promises him to stop
his investigations. Therefore, this is the end of the book because he cannot go on with the story.
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However, it is not. Some days later, he sees Mrs. Alexander and tries to chat with her. Like that he could get
further information without having lied – he only promised to stop investigating.
101: Favourite Books & His Memory
Christopher likes reading, but only informative books and detective stories. His favourite book is by Sherlock
He explains impressively how he can remember everything in detail like a film. He even remembers what
happened more than 6 years ago.
127: Losing Self-Control
His father catches him while he was writing in his book. After shouting around for some time he grabs
Christopher’s arm. But because of this unusual situation he completely looses self-control and hits his father.
After he gets back to normal, he remarks that they really have beaten each other and he even has bruise on his
face. On the next morning, his father visits the zoo with him as an excuse.
149: Discovering Letters
After coming home from school on Monday, he searches his book everywhere in the house and finds something
unexpected: Letters of his mother. After some days, he opens again his father’s wardrobe where these letters
were hidden. However, this time his father discovers him and he tries to explain why he has hidden them.
Because Father thought now that it is the best to tell the complete truth, he tells him that he had killed
This was the worst thing he could do. After that, Christopher could not trust him anymore.
Father had murdered Wellington. That meant he could murder me (...)
This night he stayed awake until 4 o’clock in the morning. Then he leaves the house on hides in the garden.
On the next morning, he decides that he wants to go to London and live with his mother. Although he is afraid
of people, he sees it as the best solution because he is just as much afraid of his father.
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181: Describing the origin of his problems
I have jumped over a lot of descriptions of his problems because it is always about the same; although this is a
short one it is very important one.
“But most people are lazy. They never look at everything. ” p. 174
191: The Trip to London
After he arrived at the railway station, he had big problems. He could not think clearly anymore because he was
overstrained by the huge flood of information: Advertisements, people talking and so on. Finally, a police officer
helped him to get a ticket.
193: His Day’s Schedule
Because of his handicap, he needs to have a very detailed timetable (example on p. 192). He says that if you
lose something you can find it again, but you will never be able to do something you have missed.
197: On the Train
Once he got onto the train he felt even worse because there were even more people on less space. However,
this was not all, a police officer got onto the train as well because Christopher’s father called the police to
search him, but the train was leaving with him and the police officer on it.
211: Arrival in London
Because he did not want to go back to his father in any case, he went to the toilet and hid behind trunks
afterwards. Like that, he could really escape the police, but there was again this problem with this big flood of
information. However, he managed to get a ticket for the tube by always looking at the ground.
223: With his Mother
He found the track quite fast, but there he was stuck. Every time the train passed, it was just too loud for him
and he just closed his eyes and pressed his hands against his ears. Suddenly Toby, his pet rat, got out of his
pocket and on the railway lines. Although the train was coming, he tried to get it. If the other people had
stopped him, he would most likely have been knocked over. As he had, now people taking care of him he could
manage to get on the train.
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Once he had arrived, he felt better because there were much fewer people around. Once he arrived at her
mothers in front of the block of flats, his mother lived in, nobody opened, and he just sat there in the rain. After
some time she finally came home and she was very happy but also surprised to see him. However Mr. Shears,
his mother’s husband, was not happy at all. Neither was Christopher’s father and so he came quite soon to get
him. After having an argument, he could see Christopher who still did not talk to him.
229: “Blade Runner”
In this chapter, he tells us a very special dream. He imagines a virus infecting all people but those having the
Asperger’s syndrome. He says how beautiful quiet it would be and how everything belongs to him, e.g. his
father’s house and that he would be very happy. He compares this with the movie “Blade Runner”
In my eyes, this is very sad if someone would like, that almost everybody dies, although it would be nice
sometimes to be alone on the Earth.
233: The Maths Exam
Because Mr. Shears did not like Christopher, he and his mother had to go. They went to Swindon, because his
mother did not get enough money to have a flat in London that is big enough for two. While she was trying to
tell him they have to go there, he always interrupted to ask whether he can take the Maths A level anyway,
despite she had already cancelled it. Hence, she phoned to reorganize it again and so he could take and get it
as he expected.
As soon as everything got back into order, his mother had to go to work, and he had to stay with his father until
5 pm. Because of that father gave him a dog and they made a project to start trusting each other again.
Conclusion: He can do anything now
“And I know I can do this because I went to London on my own, and because I solved the
mystery of Who Killed Wellington? And I found my mother and I was brave and I wrote a book
and that means I can do anything.” p. 268
Christopher John Francis Boone
“My name is Christopher John Francis Boone. I know all the countries of the world and there
capital cities and every prime number up to 7,507.” p. 2
His problems because of the Asperger’s Syndrome
o He sometimes does not talk for a long time
o Not liking being touched
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o Lose of self-control (p. 103)
o Sometimes he is very nervous and does not think things to end (p. 47)
o He has no friends, because there is no need for any with his character
He likes mathematics
Wants to become an astronaut
He is 15 years, 3 months and 2 days old at the beginning of the book
School’s social worker
A confidant for Christopher
Had the idea to let Christopher write a book
Mr. Boone / Father
Does everything for his son
Wants to be the only one who cares about Christopher
He cannot deal very well with his son’s handicap
Mrs. Boone / Mother
Understands her son almost perfectly
Has divorced Mr. Boone
Has problems with her current husband
Can really talk with Christopher
Is a confidant for him
Asperger’s Syndrome is a neurobiological disorder named for a Viennese physician, Hans Asperger, who in 1944
published a paper which described a pattern of behaviours in several young boys who had normal intelligence
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and language development, but who also exhibited autistic-like behaviours and marked deficiencies in social
and communication skills. In spite of the publication of his paper in the 1940's, it wasn't until 1994 that
Asperger Syndrome was added to the DSM IV and only in the past few years has AS been recognized by
professionals and parents.
Individuals with AS can exhibit a variety of characteristics and the disorder can range from mild to severe.
Persons with AS show marked deficiencies in social skills, have difficulties with transitions or changes and prefer
sameness. They often have obsessive routines and may be preoccupied with a particular subject of interest.
They have a great deal of difficulty reading nonverbal cues (body language) and very often the individual with
AS has difficulty determining proper body space. Often overly sensitive to sounds, tastes, smells, and sights, the
person with AS may prefer soft clothing, certain foods, and be bothered by sounds or lights no one else seems to
hear or see. It is important to remember that the person with AS perceives the world very differently.
Therefore, much behaviour that seems odd or unusual is due to those neurological differences and not the result
of intentional rudeness or bad behaviour, and most certainly not the result of "improper parenting".
By definition, those with AS have a normal IQ and many individuals (although not all), exhibit exceptional skill or
talent in a specific area. Because of their high degree of functionality and their naiveté, those with AS are often
viewed as eccentric or odd and can easily become victims of teasing and bullying. While language development
seems, on the surface, normal, individuals with AS often have deficits in pragmatics and prosody. Vocabularies
may be extraordinarily rich and some children sound like "little professors." However, persons with AS can be
extremely literal and have difficulty using language in a social context. Source: www.aspergersyndrome.org
The language he uses is quite primitive, because bad communication skills are characteristic for people with
Asperger’s Syndrome. Here some examples:
16 times “and” on page 94
He always uses “He said:” and “I said:”
The straightforward language he uses also shows that he has no feelings
The way of telling the story
The book was originally written for children what can be remarked easily because he addresses you directly.
Therefore, he has to imitate a writer who has this Asperger’s Syndrome. He has done a great job – it is very
difficult to change your language and constantly imitating someone who is that different. Bearing this in mind
it is quite a good performance that he did so few mistakes. I only remarked the following:
“I doubled 2s in my head (...). I got to 33,554,43,2 which is 225 (...)” p. 149
I also remarked this diary-like style; it reminded me immediately of web blogs. This style has many advantages
for the author, because he can write a chapter every day. Of course this is possible with any other style as well,
but then you have to be in exactly the same mood, else it sounds strange.
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This is something special because I usually never read them, but here it was like reversed: The theoretical
information is in the main text and the feelings or personal events, which you would expect in a book, are in the
Mark Haddon was born in 1962 in Northampton. He was educated at Uppingham School and Merton College,
Oxford, where he studied English.
He won the 2003 Whitbread Book of the Year Award and Commonwealth Writers' Prize Overall Best First Book
for his novel The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, a book that is supposed to provide a realistic
insight into what it is like to have Asperger's syndrome - although some with Aspergers disagree with this
depiction. (Haddon had worked with autistic people as a young man.) According to an interview with the
author at Powells.com, this was the first book that Haddon wrote intentionally for an adult audience; he was
surprised when his publisher suggested marketing it to both adult and child audiences. His second adult-novel,
A Spot of Bother, was published in September 2006.
Mark Haddon is also known for his series of Agent Z books, one Agent Z and the Penguin from Mars which was
made into a 1996 Children's BBC sitcom. Source: en.wikipedia.org
My impression of the book
The book is quite interesting, because it shows really good what we just assume and how inaccurate we are. It
is told in a way that you can identify yourself with Christopher although he is quite different.
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