Written from the point of view of an autistic 15 year old boy, the curious incident of the dog in the night-time shows readers a very unique perspective on family, relationships, trust, and taking the train to London. I fell in love with the main character, Christopher; his not-quite-perfectly logical nature, obsession with math, desire to be a detective, and bravery combine to create a personality that is simultaneously heart-warming and heart-breaking.
The book is a quick read; simple sentences are used and words and ideas are expressed efficiently and clearly. As narrator, Christopher does not pontificate needlessly on the veins of a leaf on a tree. In fact, he only includes descriptions because his teacher told him to.
The world is a difficult place for Christopher. He desires nothing more than to be left alone. Readers can feel his frustration with adults who want to talk all the time and yet never say what they mean. But I can also feel the frustration of the adults Christopher comes into contact with. The difficulty of autism exists within and without the spectrum and Haddon did a wonderful job, in my opinion, of expressing that difficulty – the opposing desires of the two sides, the inability to communicate effectively with each other. I felt for Christopher, and for his parents and neighbors.
The unique perspective inspired me to assign this novel as one of the three read for my Introduction to Literature course. I haven’t quite figured out exactly how I’m going to use it yet, but I have a few ideas. Obviously, analyzing the text from a narratological standpoint works well, possibly even from a sociolinguistic oral storytelling perspective. I have some half-formed ideas on using Russian Formalism and defamiliarization. Then I think I’ll finish it all up with Reader-Response.
If you have any thoughts on how to use the text in the classroom, please let me know in the comments!