Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
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I think Mark Haddon uses Christopher as narrator because he feels it is the best way to convey the viewpoint of a boy who suffers from Asperger Syndrome. Using Christopher as narrator means using the first person which allows the reader to see the world through Christopher’s eyes and lets the reader share Christopher’s feelings. In fact the whole point of the novel is to bring out the personality and the thought process of the young boy who has a form of Autism. Christopher is a fifteen year old teenager who suffers from Asperger Syndrome and lives with his single father.
Christopher’s past is riddled with uncertainty over what actually happened to his mother but he intends to find out. Christopher has many different characteristics for example he is very intelligent when it comes to puzzles and numbers, this is shown in the book when he says “I played 76 games of minesweeper on expert version in one hundred and two seconds”. He also cares quite a lot for animals; this is shown when he says “Dogs are important too”. There also numerous times when he mentions Toby, his pet rat which he feeds and looks after daily.
Evidence for this caring nature towards his rat is provided on page 27 of the Curious Incident when he says “I got Toby a carrot” indicating that he doesn’t forget to feed his rat even when his mind is on something else like it was in page 27. Another characteristic Chris has is that of being socially inept which means he has trouble understanding other people’s body language and can’t pick up verbal clues or understand emotions unless they are explained to him; for example, he knows that a raised voice may indicate anger.
Although socially inept, his mind processes details the average person would miss, for instance we might see cows and some flowers in a field but he would know how many cows there are and also know the species of every flower. Being very logical and literal is another side to Christopher’s nature and one that stops him from understanding certain expressions and metaphors which he thinks of as being “lies”.
To Christopher phrases like “raining cats and dogs” and “you’ll catch your death from cold” are incomprehensible nonsense. All of the characteristics listed in the previous paragraph combine together to make a very interesting person, a person who is hard to understand, and a person whose mind can’t be explained so easily. To find out what goes on inside the mind of such a complicated person like Christopher you have to let him tell his own story and observe how he reacts to it as it progresses along.
There are a few advantages of using Christopher as narrator for example letting Christopher narrate the story allows the first person to fully take its toll on the reader and lets him/her explore Christopher’s mind for themselves. Another advantage of using Chris as narrator is that it gives the reader an insight to the way he feels about the people he meets and knows. It could also be an informative experience in which the reader learns about the illness develops their knowledge on it. Some of the advantages were listed in the previous paragraph but there is also a downside of using Christopher as narrator.
One disadvantage in using Christopher as narrator is that he is unable to describe the other characters as fully rounded individuals except father who is dealt with a certain degree of depth but even here we arrive at an understanding by reading between the lines and filling in the blanks of what Christopher tells us. Another disadvantage is that Christopher’s way of telling the story is very simplistic and may negate the excitement and suspense provided by the storyline of the book. There are many disadvantages but the main drawback I think is the lack of emotional connection between any of the supporting characters.
Despite all the setbacks I’ve mentioned I think the book is successful in achieving its main purpose which is to give the reader a glimpse of what it is like to be living with a form of autism for a fifteen year old boy. There are many times when Christopher’s way of doing things makes the reader feel sorry for him and also sympathise with him as well. An example of this is when he gets arrested and gets taken to the police station. This sympathetic effect helps the book in achieving its main purpose by allowing the reader to feel what Christopher feels.