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In this commentary, I will be writing about the different linguistic features of the first two chapters of "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time" by Mark Haddon.

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Introduction

Joseph Coyle 6E4 Commentary on Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time In this commentary, I will be writing about the different linguistic features of the first two chapters of "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time" by Mark Haddon. The use of pictures, in the first two chapters tells us a lot about the narrator of the book, an 11 year old boy with Asperger's syndrome. For example, at the start of chapter 3, there are four sets of pictures. According to the narrator, these pictures help him to identify which mood people who talk to him are in and also, which emotions they are displaying. He says they were given to him by Siobhan, his carer as a way to help him understand. The pictures may represent how he actually sees other people, merely as blank faces, with either a clear happy or sad expression or just confusion. The faces do not have personalities or characters - the factors that would normally make us feel emotion towards other people - they are simply featureless symbols of humanity. ...read more.

Middle

For example, "The points of the fork...because the fork had not fallen over". It is almost as if he is expressing an emotion he knows he ought to feel rather than the one he actually does feel. He pays an outstanding amount of attention to detail. For example, at the start of the book he describes how the dog was running "running on its side...chasing a cat in a dream". This is typical of somebody with Asperger's since they are very acute observers and have to know, do and say everything precisely, otherwise they will become confused. He uses lots of description as well. To achieve this, he employs lots of adjectives and adverbs. For example, "Mr Jeavons smells of soap, and wears brown shoes...60 tiny holes in each". Throughout the novel, the chapter headings are labelled in prime numbers instead of the normal cardinals, which is an important fact. This helps us to understand the character behind the surface. At the start of chapter 2 (headed 3), he says he knows all the prime numbers up to 7,507. ...read more.

Conclusion

Here, it is possible to detect a hint of pessimism. The choice of words that the author uses is not typical of the teenage social peer group. For example, he doesn't say "wicked" since this would be a metaphor. This also enforces Christopher's social isolation. Christopher does not use any of the more common spoken English techniques, for example; contractions, "But I could not be certain about this". The contraction would be "couldn't". The language that Mark Haddon uses throughout the book is very formal. There are very few conjunctions since the book is written from Christopher's point of view, and Christopher thinks very logically, in a structured, simple way. In conclusion, it can be seen that the opening chapters of this novel manage to seamlessly meld together the symptoms of Asperger's syndrome, with narrative devices. The use of numbers and illustrations, allow the reader to enter a world which although strange to us is a familiar and usual one of the main character. The language structures, such as the use of short sentences echo the thinking methods of Christopher, and the author's use of unemotional and denotative vocabulary is an excellent way to demonstrate Christopher's own lack of complex emotions. ...read more.

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