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The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

by Mark Haddon


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Time to write.


You have a choice.

You liked the ending?
Great! Add to it. Write two or more pages after the ending of the curious incident of the dog in the night-time. Your addition to the ending must be at least two pages long. It must logically follow what the characters would do. It must include at least three of the characters. It must have dialogue and narration. It must have action and description. And it must not have any grammatical or spelling errors.

You didn’t like the ending?
Then change it. Rewrite the ending of the curious incident of the dog in the night-time. Your “new” ending must be at least two pages long. It must logically follow what the characters would do. It must include at least three of the characters. It must have dialogue and narration. It must have action and description. And it must not have any grammatical or spelling errors.



Write your answer in msw and paste it into this QT.

Questions for Discussion
1. On pages 45–48, Christopher describes his "Behavioral Problems" and the effect they had on his parents and their marriage. What is the effect of the dispassionate style in which he relates this information?

2. Given Christopher's aversion to being touched, can he experience his parents' love for him, or can he only understand it as a fact, because they tell him they love him? Is there any evidence in the novel that he experiences a sense of attachment to other people?

3. One of the unusual aspects of the novel is its inclusion of many maps and diagrams. How effective are these in helping the reader see the world through Christopher's eyes?

4. What challenges does The Curious Incident present to the ways we usually think and talk about characters in novels? How does it force us to reexamine our normal ideas about love and desire, which are often the driving forces in fiction? Since Mark Haddon has chosen to make us see the world through Christopher's eyes, what does he help us discover about ourselves?

5. Christopher likes the idea of a world with no people in it [p. 2]; he contemplates the end of the world when the universe collapses [pp. 10–11]; he dreams of being an astronaut, alone in space [pp. 50–51], and that a virus has carried off everyone and the only people left are "special people like me" [pp. 198–200]. What do these passages say about his relationship to other human beings? What is striking about the way he describes these scenarios?

6. On pages 67–69, Christopher goes into the garden and contemplates the importance of description in the book he is writing. His teacher Siobhan told him "the idea of a book was to describe things using words so that people could read them and make a picture in their own head" [p. 67]. What is the effect of reading Christopher's extended description, which begins, "I decided to do a description of the garden" and ends "Then I went inside and fed Toby"? How does this passage relate to a quote Christopher likes from The Hound of the Baskervilles: "The world is full of obvious things which nobody by chance ever observes" [p. 73]?

7. According to neurologist Oliver Sacks, Hans Asperger, the doctor whose name is associated with the kind of autism that Christopher seems to have, notes that some autistic people have "a sort of intelligence scarcely touched by tradition and culture --- unconventional, unorthodox, strangely pure and original, akin to the intelligence of true creativity" [An Anthropologist on Mars by Oliver Sacks, NY: Vintage Books, 1995, pp. 252–53]. Does the novel's intensive look at Christopher's fascinating and often profound mental life suggest that in certain ways, the pity that well-meaning, "normal" people might feel for him is misdirected? Given his gifts, does his future look promising?

8. Christopher experiences the world quantitatively and logically. His teacher Mr. Jeavons tells him that he likes math because it's safe. But Christopher's explanation of the Monty Hall problem gives the reader more insight into why he likes math. Does Mr. Jeavons underestimate the complexity of Christopher's mind and his responses to intellectual stimulation? Does Siobhan understand Christopher better than Mr. Jeavons?

9. Think about what Christopher says about metaphors and lies and their relationship to novels [pp. 14–20]. Why is lying such an alien concept to him? In his antipathy to lies, Christopher decides not to write a novel, but a book in which "everything I have written . . . is true" [p. 20]. Why do "normal" human beings in the novel, like Christopher's parents, find lies so indispensable? Why is the idea of truth so central to Christopher's narration?

10. Which scenes are comical in this novel, and why are they funny? Are these same situations also sad, or exasperating?

11. Christopher's conversations with Siobhan, his teacher at school, are possibly his most meaningful communications with another person. What are these conversations like, and how do they compare with his conversations with his father and his mother?

12. One of the primary disadvantages of the autistic is that they can't project or intuit what other people might be feeling or thinking --- as illustrated in the scene where Christopher has to guess what his mother might think would be in the Smarties tube [pp. 115–16]. When does this deficit become most clear in the novel? Does Christopher seem to suffer from his mental and emotional isolation, or does he seem to enjoy it?

13. Christopher's parents, with their affairs, their arguments, and their passionate rages, are clearly in the grip of emotions they themselves can't fully understand or control. How, in juxtaposition to Christopher's incomprehension of the passions that drive other people, is his family situation particularly ironic?

14. On pages 83–84, Christopher explains why he doesn't like yellow and brown, and admits that such decisions are, in part, a way to simplify the world and make choices easier. Why does he need to make the world simpler? Which aspects of life does he find unbearably complicated or stressful?

15. What is the effect of reading the letters Christopher's mother wrote to him? Was his mother justified in leaving? Does Christopher comprehend her apology and her attempt to explain herself [pp. 106–10]? Does he have strong feelings about the loss of his mother? Which of his parents is better suited to taking care of him?

16. Christopher's father confesses to killing Wellington in a moment of rage at Mrs. Shears [pp. 121–22], and swears to Christopher that he won't lie to him ever again. Christopher thinks, "I had to get out of the house. Father had murdered Wellington. That meant he could murder me, because I couldn't trust him, even though he had said 'Trust me,' because he had told a lie about a big thing" [p. 122]. Why is Christopher's world shattered by this realization? Is it likely that he will ever learn to trust his father again?

17. How much empathy does the reader come to feel for Christopher? How much understanding does he have of his own emotions? What is the effect, for instance, of the scenes in which Christopher's mother doesn't act to make sure he can take his A-levels? Do these scenes show how little his mother understands Christopher's deepest needs?

18. Mark Haddon has said of The Curious Incident, "It's not just a book about disability. Obviously, on some level it is, but on another level . . . it's a book about books, about what you can do with words and what it means to communicate with someone in a book. Here's a character whom if you met him in real life you'd never, ever get inside his head. Yet something magical happens when you write a novel about him. You slip inside his head, and it seems like the most natural thing in the world" [http://www.powells.com/authors/haddon.html ]. Is a large part of the achievement of this novel precisely this --- that Haddon has created a door into a kind of mind his readers would not have access to in real life?

19. Christopher's journey to London underscores the difficulties he has being on his own, and the real disadvantages of his condition in terms of being in the world. What is most frightening, disturbing, or moving about this extended section of the novel [pp. 169–98]?

20. In his review of The Curious Incident, Jay McInerney suggests that at the novel's end "the gulf between Christopher and his parents, between Christopher and the rest of us, remains immense and mysterious. And that gulf is ultimately the source of this novel's haunting impact. Christopher Boone is an unsolved mystery" [The New York Times Book Review, 6/15/03, p. 5)]. Is this an accurate assessment? If so, why?

More Questions:

1. What is the “curious incident”?
2. Look up autism and Asperger’s syndrome. Define them.
3. How is Christopher different from a typical narrator / hero?
4. What challenges does The Curious Incident present to the ways we usually think and talk about
characters in novels? How does it force us to reexamine our normal ideas about love and desire,
which are often the driving forces in fiction? Since Mark Haddon has chosen to make us see the
world through Christopher’s eyes, what does he help us discover about ourselves?
5. Look through Curious Incident and take note how often Christopher defines terms and concepts.
Make a list (include page number)—or annotate—as many examples as you can find. How does this
technique help us understand Christopher as a character / how Christopher views the world? What
could we gain from “defining our terms” before we discussed issues or analyzed problems?
6. Do you find any of his methods or views “unscientific” or “illogical”? What are they? Explain
how this demonstrates Christopher is more like the average person than we might originally think.
7. Christopher likes the idea of a world with no people in it [p. 2]; he contemplates the end of the
world when the universe collapses [pp. 10–11]; he dreams of being an astronaut, alone in space [pp.
50–51], and that a virus has carried off everyone and the only people left are “special people like me”
[pp. 198–200]. What do these passages say about his relationship to other human beings? What is
striking about the way he describes these scenarios?
8. On pages 67–69, Christopher goes into the garden and contemplates the importance of description
in the book he is writing. His teacher Siobhan told him “the idea of a book was to describe things
using words so that people could read them and make a picture in their own head” [p. 67]. What is
the effect of reading Christopher’s extended description, which begins, “I decided to do a description
of the garden” and ends “Then I went inside and fed Toby”? How does this passage relate to a quote
Christopher likes from The Hound of the Baskervilles: “The world is full of obvious things which
nobody by chance ever observes” [p. 73]?
9. What clues and red herrings does the author give us in Curious Incident? What exactly is the
mystery we as readers are solving?
10. Christopher is very literal, analytical, and observant. He is also a materialist; he thinks that God,
souls, heaven, and other supernatural are stupid. Even when he states that ghosts may exist, he argues
that their existence is a material one—one that scientists would authenticate through scientific means.
Why do you think Christopher is a materialist? What approach might you use to argue to Christopher
that spiritual world can be as real as the material world?
11. According to neurologist Oliver Sacks, Hans Asperger, the doctor whose name is associated with
the kind of autism that Christopher seems to have, notes that some autistic people have “a sort of
intelligence scarcely touched by tradition and culture—unconventional, unorthodox, strangely pure
and original, akin to the intelligence of true creativity” [An Anthropologist on Mars by Oliver Sacks,
NY: Vintage Books, 1995, pp. 252–53]. Does the novel’s intensive look at Christopher’s fascinating
and often profound mental life suggest that in certain ways, the pity that well-meaning, “normal”
people might feel for him is misdirected? Given his gifts, does his future look promising?
12. Christopher experiences the world quantitatively and logically. His teacher Mr. Jeavons tells him
that he likes math because it’s safe. How does Christopher keep his world “safe”? How does
Christopher cross boundaries that are “unsafe”?
13. What are some of the reasons that Christopher desires to be safe—and what are some of the
reasons he desires to be “risky”? On pages 83–84, Christopher explains why he doesn’t like yellow
and brown, and admits that such decisions are, in part, a way to simplify the world and make choices
easier. Why does he need to make the world simpler? Which aspects of life does he find unbearably
complicated or stressful? Do you make the world simpler in a similar way—give an example and
explain.
14. One of Christopher’s strengths is that he does not (cannot?) jump to conclusions. He
methodically reasons through each step before coming to conclusions. For example, we “intuit” that
perhaps his mother is not dead after we hear Mrs. Alexander’s conversation with Christopher. We
also “know” that the letter from Christopher’s mother indicates she is still alive even before we read
much of it—or see the date. How difficult would it be if you had to reason through each step before
arriving at a conclusion? What might you gain if you were more like Christopher?
15. Christopher’s journey to London underscores the difficulties he has being on his own, and the
real disadvantages of his condition in terms of being in the world. What is most frightening,
disturbing, or moving about this extended section of the novel [pp. 169–98]?
16. Christopher demonstrates himself to be very much like his hero Sherlock Holmes. How is
Christopher a good detective? How is he brave and a risk taker like Holmes?
17. Why does Christopher seem to view animals as important as human beings? What qualities do
animals have that humans lack according to Christopher? What other qualities can you think of that
we find animals to possess in a manner or depth that we wished human beings possessed?
18. Discuss the role of Truth and Lies as a major theme within the story: Think about what
Christopher says about metaphors and lies and their relationship to novels [pp. 14–20]. Why is lying
such an alien concept to him? In his antipathy to lies, Christopher decides not to write a novel, but a
book in which “everything I have written . . . is true” [p. 20]. Why do “normal” human beings in the
novel, like
Christopher’s parents, find lies so indispensable? Why is the idea of truth so central to Christopher’s
narration? Is Christopher’s definition of “truth” limited—if so how? If no—how not?
19. Select at least three scenes that are comical in this novel. Defend your position. Are these same
situations also sad, or exasperating? Explain.
20. Christopher’s conversations with Siobhan, his teacher at school, are possibly his most meaningful
communications with another person. What are these conversations like, and how do they compare
with his conversations with his father and his mother? How is she, perhaps, Mark Haddon’s example
of the power / importance of teaching?
21. As we start to “hear” from Christopher’s parents, the reader becomes aware of a more complex
world that has been surrounding Christopher from the start. How has Haddon (the author) made us
feel “safe” in Christopher’s world? How have these new voices (Mom and Dad) given us deeper
insights into the complexities of Christopher and his world? Notice how Haddon starts adding more
complex maps as the story progresses—why?
22. Christopher’s parents, with their affairs, their arguments, and their passionate rages, are clearly in
the grip of emotions they themselves can’t fully understand or control. How, in juxtaposition to
Christopher’s incomprehension of the passions that drive other people, is his family situation
particularly ironic?
23. What is the effect of reading the letters Christopher’s mother wrote to him? Was his mother
justified in leaving? Does Christopher comprehend her apology and her attempt to explain herself
[pp. 106–10]? Does he have strong feelings about the loss of his mother? Which of his parents is
better suited to taking care of him?
24. Christopher’s father confesses to killing Wellington in a moment of rage at Mrs. Shears [pp. 121–
22], and swears to Christopher that he won’t lie to him ever again. Christopher thinks, “I had to get
out of the house. Father had murdered Wellington. That meant he could murder me, because I
couldn’t trust him, even though he had said ‘Trust me,’ because he had told a lie about a big thing”
[p. 122]. Why is Christopher’s world shattered by this realization? Is it likely that he will ever learn
to trust his father again?
25. How much empathy does the reader come to feel for Christopher? How much understanding does
he have of his own emotions? What is the effect, for instance, of the scenes in which Christopher’s
mother doesn’t act to make sure he can take his A-levels? Do these scenes show how little his mother
understands Christopher’s deepest needs?
26. Mark Haddon has said of The Curious Incident, “It’s not just a book about disability. Obviously,
on some level it is, but on another level . . . it’s a book about books, about what you can do with
words and what it means to communicate with someone in a book. Here’s a character whom if you
met him in real life you’d never, ever get inside his head. Yet something magical happens when you
write a novel about him. You slip inside his head, and it seems like the most natural thing in the
world” Link to: http://www.powells.com/authors/haddon.html ]. How is this novel a “book about
books”? How does this novel demonstrate “what you can do with words”? To what extent has
Haddon succeeded with you—do you feel as if you are “inside Christopher’s head”? Discuss
significance of this.
27. In his review of The Curious Incident, Jay McInerney suggests that at the novel’s end “the gulf
between Christopher and his parents, between Christopher and the rest of us, remains immense and
mysterious. And that gulf is ultimately the source of this novel’s haunting impact. Christopher Boone
is an unsolved mystery” [The New York Times Book Review, 6/15/03, p. 5)]. Is this an accurate
assessment? If so, why? If not, why not?
28. Why does Haddon spend so much time with the “counterexample.”? When does Christopher use
this? How is it important to the plot? to character development? to literary theme of the work? (You
will need to look up counterexample and Pythagorean theorem.)
29. The extension of the counterexample is the paradox. How is Christopher’s story and Christopher
himself filled with paradox?
30. There are four significant symbols used by Christopher to represent himself: a prime number; the
okapi, a triangle, and a tightrope walker. Look for these symbols within the book, annotate the book
(underline/mark) How are they symbolic /what do they symbolize? Explain their significance within
the novel. Which one do you find the most accessible? Which one do you find the most difficult?

Adapted from www.notredamepreparatory.org

We Are All Special Needs
While we were reading this book, we realized that Christopher is a "special needs" case. But, we also came to the conclusion that we are all special. Each and every one of us has special needs, too. We discovered that our idiosyncratic compulsions are good examples of this. Here are some of them.
"Every time I eat a cheeseburger, I have to eat three bites in a row. And then I eat three sips of my drink, and then I eat three fries."
"I don't look at people when I talk to them."
"I have at least two fans on when I am sleeping, because I need the noise to sleep."
"I have to sleep with a sheet, and two comforters every night."
"When I walk on the sidewalk I have to step in each square with my right food then left foot once each and no more than that."
"I can't step on the cracks when I walk along the street."
"I have to sleep with my green blanket when I'm in my bed with the rip around my face."
"I can't fall asleep unless that stupid show, Full House, is on."
"When I am leaving a place I have to be the last one out."
"I always have to make sure the clasp on my friends' or my necklace is in the back."
"I have to sleep with my ipod on, listening to "Dancing Queen" every night."
"I have to park in the same spot at my house, school, and work."
"Anything I put on, I have to do my left foot first."
"When I watch TV, the volume has to be a multiple of five."
"I can't have any bumps in my hair. I have to do it over and over until it is perfect."
"I always wash my hands twice before I go to bed."
"Whenever I get buffalo chicken tenders, I always cut them all up then eat all of the chicken. If the ends are not good enough, I will push them to the end of my plate."
"If I see something that is messy, I have to go over and clean or organize it. And then I have to mess it up again."
"When my truck or quad gets muddy from off-roading, I need to wash it right away and then I use a toothbrush to clean the dirt out of the chain, toothpaste , too.
"I always have to sit on my left leg, even if it hurts."
"I sing and dance to Christmas music in shop no matter what time of year it is."
"I count things in the car like mailboxes and telephone poles."
"I read everything on food items before I eat or drink them."
"When I'm walking around my neighborhood at night, I like to pretend I'm in a movie."
"When I'm packing for a vacation, I like all the things to look nice and flush in the trunk."
"I need to do everything in pairs. For example, I need to take two bites of something, and then I need to take two sips of my drink."
"If I have more than one kind of food on my plate I have to eat each type, one by one."
"I have to do things in threes. For example, if I get punched once, I need to get punched two more times. Or if I cough once, I need to cough two more times."
"I always need four pillows on my bed, even though I only use one when I sleep."
"When I have a drink next to me, I always have to have the label facing me."
"Before I eat my cereal in the morning, all of it has to be wet in the milk."
"Every time I put something back in the fridge, it has to be in the same exact spot or I get a chill up my spine."
"When I am in a car, I always look at the license plates and do math with them or try to do words."
"It stopped when I was 11 or 12 , but my number was nine. I'd have to chew three times on the left and three times on the right then three times again on the left."
"I have to roll over four times before I go to sleep."
"I have to wash my hands before I take a shower."
"When I drink juice, I have to swish it before I can swallow."

DESE Standards Addressed in this Unit

Discussion
1.6 Drawing on one of the widely used professional evaluation forms for group
discussion, evaluate how well participants engage in discussions at a local
meeting.

Questioning, Listening, and Contributing
2.6 Analyze differences in responses to focused group discussion in an
organized and systematic way.

Vocabulary and Concept Development
4.26 Identify and use correctly new words acquired through study of their
different relationships to other words.
4.27 Use general dictionaries, specialized dictionaries, thesauruses, histories
of language, books of quotations, and other related references as needed.

Structure and Origins of Modern English
5.30 Identify, describe, and apply all conventions of standard English.
5.31 Describe historical changes in conventions for usage and grammar.

Formal and Informal English
6.11 Analyze how dialect can be a source of negative or positive stereotypes
among social groups.

Understanding a Text
For imaginative/literary texts:
8.32 Identify and analyze the point(s) of view in a literary work.
8.33 Analyze patterns of imagery or symbolism and connect them to themes
and/or tone and mood.
Theme
11.6 Apply knowledge of the concept that a text can contain more than one
theme.
11.7 Analyze and compare texts that express a universal theme, and locate
support in the text for the identified theme.

Fiction
12.6 Analyze, evaluate, and apply knowledge of how authors use techniques
and elements in fiction for rhetorical and aesthetic purposes.
For example, students analyze events, point of view, and characterization
in Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye in light of Stanley Crouch’s criticism of
her work, and conduct a class debate on the validity of his criticism.

Style and Language
15.10 Analyze and compare style and language across significant cross-cultural
literary works.

Writing
19.30 Write coherent compositions with a clear focus, objective presentation
of alternate views, rich detail, well-developed paragraphs, and logical
argumentation.
For example, students compose an essay for their English and American
history classes on de Toqueville’s observations of American life in the
1830s, examining whether his characterization of American society is still
applicable today.
20.6 Use effective rhetorical techniques and demonstrate understanding of
purpose, speaker, audience, and form when completing expressive, persua­sive,
or literary writing assignments.

Revising
21.9 Revise writing to improve style, word choice, sentence variety, and subtlety
of meaning after rethinking how well questions of purpose, audience, and
genre have been addressed.

Standard English Conventions
22.10 Use all conventions of standard English when writing and editing.
23.15 Craft sentences in a way that supports the underlying logic of the ideas.

Evaluating Writing and Presentations
25.6 Individually develop and use criteria for assessing work across the
curriculum, explaining why the criteria are appropriate before applying
them.