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Mark Haddon’s novel, The Curious Incident of the dog in the Nighttime, is an autobiographical murder mystery narrated from the perspective of an autistic teenager, Christopher Boone. Throughout the text, Haddon astutely positions the audience to experience life from the perspective of someone who cannot hope to grasp the subtle nuances of human interactions and social norms. From the perspective of a highly unconventional narrator, Haddon explores everyday settings and events, allowing him to portray interesting ideas about the differences that exist both within the nuanced world he created and in contemporary society as a whole.
In the Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, one of the main themes that is portrayed in the story is love, truth and security or safety – all of which are important in building a relationship. Throughout the story, Christopher sees truth as a principal part of the world, and thinks of it as right or wrong (right if you are truthful, wrong if you are untruthful). If someone tells him the truth, he can trust them; although, if they lie to him, he fears them.
During the entire novel, he is always carrying a Swiss Army Knife, which proves that he is always aware of his physical safety, because he struggles to protect himself emotionally. Hence, he has a knife for defense against people who might attack him. As a matter of fact, he sometimes responds to any emotional harm with physical defense (for example: when he confronts his father about having learned about his mother’s affair). Truth is so crucial in Christopher’s life because he thinks it will keep him safe from any emotional harm.
Christopher struggles to understand why anyone would want to believe something that isn’t true, such as that fairies exist – “…and fairies are made out of paper and you can’t talk to someone who is dead” (Haddon 140). He wants to know the truth about everything around him, which is why he can be perceived as literal or blunt – and is the entire reason he decides to uncover the truth about Wellington’s death. Christopher also reminds the people around him and us that he never lies – “I do not tell lies” (Haddon 39). He even goes to the extent of believing that it is a ‘white lie’ if he doesn’t give every detail of his day; although, he then realizes that he needs to tell white lies if he wants to do detective work. When he goes around the neighbors’ houses, the author shows Christopher changing and being able to interact with the world around him.
Due to Christopher relying by truth and lies, he restrains himself from thinking that situations other than that exist. Because Christopher manages to live in the moment like this, he is able to protect himself from thinking about his “dead” mother or what life would’ve been like if she was still around.
Moreover, Christopher finds truth to be a sign of love, thus, when his father lied to him about his mother – he cannot fathom the fact that his father has good intentions by lying to him. In addition, he does feel the pain of the truth and vomits all over his bed, and this has put him in ‘emotional danger’ rather than keeping him safe. But after fearing his father, he realizes that he must move past this as his father still loves him. And as much as Christopher hates lies, he has to accept that sometimes people make mistakes without the intention to hurt someone they love.
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