‘Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time’
“No-one is a stranger, that the people we turn away from in the street are more like us than we dare admit, that the things we have in common will always outweigh the things which separate us.”
Everyone is different – it may just be the colour of their hair or it may be their race, religion or intellectual and emotional capability. No matter what, everyone should be treated equally. In the end, we are all human beings. This point of accepting diversity is just one message that Mark Haddon conveyed in his compelling book, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time. It is clear through his portrayal of characters living their day to day lives, that he wanted us to recognise that everyone is different and that we should accept them as they are. People shouldn’t feel the need to change their opinions or feel any disadvantage because of the views or likes of others, nor should they be ridiculed for their choices and lifestyle. Just because a person has a disability or a different skin colour, doesn’t mean they should be treated differently to others; they should be accepted as the unique human being that they are.
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Throughout the book, Haddon effectively used the most diverse characters to convey his messages. Haddon uses Christopher, a teenage boy suffering from autism, to convey his messages to the reader. Christopher is clearly different; he throws himself on the ground and groans when he doesn’t receive what he wants and stops eating for days on end. The style of writing – the book is written in the first person from Christopher’s perspective gives us an incredible insight into how Christopher views the people he encounters and invites the reader to understand and appreciate the reasons for his actions. The way Christopher acts as though the people around him are ‘different’ and ‘unusual’ enables the reader to understand and tolerate Christopher’s actions, reactions and emotions. The reader is able to step into Christopher’s shoes and understand the way he thinks and acts. The reader readily becomes more understanding and accepting of diversity. Another character Haddon uses is Ed Boone, Christopher’s father. Even though Ed suffered hurt and rejection from his son, he always supported and encouraged him. Ed always made time to talk to and clearly loved his son. He didn’t run away as Christopher’s mother did - he learnt to accept Christopher for who he was and treated him like any other normal 15 year old boy.
Haddon’s enigmatic writing enabled him to intertwine his various messages into the plot and setting of the book. One example of this is when Christopher’s father lied to him about his mother’s death. After Ed lied to Christopher, he realised that what he had done was unacceptable and unfair. He realised that he should not have lied to his son. He knew that Christopher deserved to know the truth; no matter how much it would hurt him. It was a valuable lesson to Ed as he then realised that his son deserved to know the truth and to be treated as he would like to be treated himself. It also invited the reader to view Ed’s actions as inappropriate and unfair and that Christopher has the same reactions as any other 15 year old boy.
Haddon cleverly constructed a range of themes to convey his messages of diversity and being accepted. One theme evident throughout the novel was discrimination. Terry, who was the older brother of Francis, who attends Christopher’s school, told Chrsitopher that, “He would only ever get a job collecting supermarket trollies or cleaning out donkey shit at an animal sanctuary and they didn’t let spazzers drive rockets that cost billions of pounds.” Christopher was ridiculed and discriminated against by many of the ignorant people in his community. Christopher also described the way the children from the local high school called out names and nasty comments to the children that attend the special school in the street. Rather than Christopher writing about his sadness of these derogatory comments of being socially unacceptable, he relfected upon these remarks without offence. This showed the diversity of Christopher and how he did not understand the need to be socially accepted.
Overall, the book excellently conveyed Haddon’s messages of diversity and being accepted. The book successfully used a different perspective of writing, enabling the reader to step into Christopher’s shoes and see what his life was like. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time, was written not to confuse the reader, but to enlighten them on the diversity and discrimination experienced in our modern world. Haddon constructed many important messages that can be taken away from reading this moving and insightful book and enabled the reader to become aware of the discrimination and diversity that people with disabilities endure every day of their life.
Here's what a star student thought of this essay
Quality of writing
The Quality of Written Communication is brilliant, There is a clear indication of a candidate who writes very fluidly whilst making few errors. This could be a result of spell-checking though, and there's no shame in that because we all make writing errors even without realising, so it is greatly recommended that candidates do this.
Level of analysis
The Level of Analysis is good. The candidate shows much evidence that they have a deep-set knowledge of the events of the novel and also the presentation of characters in it. The personal response is well-justified and shows intelligence and proficiency in writing a balanced argument. As said earlier, a more precise response drawing attention to the technical terminology of written expression would help the candidate score higher, focusing on the means by which Haddon uses character, space and narrative voice in order to develop plot and character.
Response to question
This is a very competent essay, which combines objectivity and subjectivity well to form a well-written, honest, and completely valid review. The candidate shows a deep understanding of the purpose of the novel and also how Haddon forms language in order to create a world alien to our own - the world of an autistic 15 year-old boy. There is a sensitive appraisal of how Christopher sees the world, and the means by which he comes to understand it as his own. The opinions formed here are clear and justified, but perhaps I would like to see more of a language-based analysis integrated. Through what means does his characters? What styles of narrative do you read? Notice how everything involving emotion is described very in a very one-dimensional way, and often with a limited vocabulary (Christopher frequently uses "I said", "He said", and "She said") - the words in the narrative are very simplistic. This is the type of analysis that will help improve the review and show the examiner there is a greater understanding of the language devices used by Haddon in order to 'create' Christopher's character.