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There are many different ways to approach the protagonist of a book. The most common is to make him sympathetic. Rarely do authors have a wholly unsympathetic protagonist, and when they do, itís often to make a point. But in The Curious Case Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time Mark Haddon writes the protagonist, Christopher Boone, as wholly unsympathetic, and, as far as I can tell, the author is making no point.
The book revolves around Christopher Boone, who lives in a small town, Swindon, in England. The title refers to the mystery of a dog Christopher finds dead in his neighborhood, and, like his favorite literary character Sherlock Holmes, decides to investigate this case. But the investigation is never engrossing, and only lasts for the first half of the book. Really, itís only an interesting framing device for the real protagonist of the book, and the real plot. Christopherís father.
Christopher himself is a special needs child, and at fifteen hates to be touched, is an extremely picky eater, uncommunicative, and bases his days around the colors of the cars on the way to school. While the author says that he didnít do any research, it is made explicitly clear over the course of the book that Chris has some form of Autism, probably Aspergerís syndrome, and is likely a mild savant, indicated by his incredible memory and high proficiency in mathematics.
And so, this book is like so many other plots, especially common in tearjerker movies, books and television episodes. The troubled parents with their autistic kid and how they deal with him, how they grow, how they become a better family. The child, while the focus of such plots, is never treated as much more than an object, a plot device. This book attempts to avert that by telling the real plot, the conflict between Christopherís family, through his eyes and his unique perspective. It attempts to humanize this object. But for whatever reason, because of Haddonís lack of research, because of his presumptive ideas about special needs children, or just because he thought it would be interesting, Christopher is practically emotionless, with definite sociopathic tendencies and his absolute pseudo-logic that governs his every action. This plot device loses something even as Haddon tries to make it gain something. Instead of being an innocent bystander as his family fights over him while still trying to maintain his interests, we see why they fight. We see that Christopher has no redeeming features. Thereís nothing to make anyone like him, to make anyone want to be inside his head for two hundred and twenty-six pages. Heck, I was tired of him by page seven after he assaults a policeman. I think I liked it better when the plot device wasnít human and it was just that, a plot device. Maybe in the hands of a more capable author Christopher, despite his utter foreignness to a normal person, could have become a human and demonstrated that he was worthy as an actual character instead of merely a catalyst for the plot. In fact, this is one of the most common criticisms Iíve seen with the book. That Christopher, an obvious person with Aspergerís whether the author wants to admit it or not, is portrayed as absolutely emotionless when people as high functioning as he is arenít. Like us, they feel emotions, and the popularity of A Dog in the Night-Time has contributed to a general ignorance about special needs people.
But unlike Christopher, the book isnít completely beyond redemption. As I said earlier, the real protagonist is the father and his struggles. And thatís where I found the book interesting. I found him to be the most well developed character and by far the most human. His trials and tribulations held my interest, I felt for him and sympathized with him. At least until Christopher intruded with another numbingly embarrassing conversation with anyone he meets, or some random fact with little bearing on the plot besides to establish him as different, or, my favorite, his dreams about everyone
Review: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-TimeUser Review - Thomas - Goodreads
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time revolves around Christopher, an autistic teen who discovers his neighbor's dead dog one night. He is a genius in that he knows all of the prime ... Read full review
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-timeUser Review - Flipkart
A book I found interesting was The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon. It was different to many other books I've read because it was written from an Autistic persons point of ... Read full review
Review: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-TimeUser Review - TK421 - Goodreads
Oof...well, there's not much to say about this one, no great insights, not great storytelling, and a crapload of literary devices that come across as contrived and meager, at best. I liked the idea of ... Read full review
Okay, written by a kid!User Review - Rajan Duggal - Flipkart
This book is definitely written in a kiddish style, and the language is also simple and totally understandable to anyone. But, when it comes to reading the story of Christopher, you just can not hold ... Read full review
Review: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-TimeUser Review - Brad - Goodreads
The Prime Reasons Why I Enjoyed Mark Haddon's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time: 2. Death broken down into its molecular importance. 3. Clouds, with chimneys and aerials impressed upon ... Read full review
Review: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-TimeUser Review - Alex - Goodreads
It's a rare book that can sit on the bestseller shelf and still call to me... for most tomes, the bestseller label is a big enough turn off to make me never consider it. That being said, I have no ... Read full review
Review: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-TimeUser Review - Anthony - Goodreads
One day in June I was joking with my sister, "I should TOTALLY write a story about an autistic detective! He would go around solving mysteries, but then not telling anyone about it because he doesn't ... Read full review