University studies | Mark Haddon, Literature | Benjamin Madeira —




DISCUSSING THIS BOOK, »The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time« , Mark Haddon: English Literature , English Writer, illustrator - Here is a novel about a novelist who is incapable telling a lie, while a novel, by its nature, is fiction--a big bundle of lies. ««

Pathos and logos--emotion and logic--are in apparent and constant conflict throughout The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, on many different levels. :

In Christopher's mind, for example, he identifies simple, stark emotions such as fear, sadness, happiness and anger, but he tends to observe these emotions as logical realities within his mood rather than actually feeling them. Can you find other examples of pathos in conflict with logos in other parts of the book?

There seems to be a tendency among the adults with whom Christopher comes in contact to judge him solely on the basis of his aberrant behavior. They often overlook the fact that he is incredibly bright, looking down on him rather than meeting his own level. Can you find examples of condescension and exploitation?

Euphemasia is a recently invented word, emerging from the modern fad of inventing euphemisms for every unpleasant or misunderstood aspect of life. The word "euphemasia" means the willful destruction of the English language through euphemisms. The high point of pathetic humor in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time may be the scene in which normal students taunt Christopher and his classmates with the chant, "special needs, special needs, special needs," a euphemism for the students' varying conditions, mental and physical. It is true the bullies are no longer taunting with chants of "spaz," "crip" and "mong," but has changing the sound of the taunt actually changed anything?

What other examples of euphemasia or euphemism can you find in Haddon's book? How does this relate to real life? Can you find real examples in your own world where more socially acceptable words may soften the label but have little to do with actual usage and meaning?

After reading Curious Incident, there can be little doubt that Mark Haddon has a sense of humor. Perhaps the most poignant bit of wit is in the structure of the novel itself.

Christopher, Haddon's novelist character, has a rich and fertile imagination, and he doesn't hesitate for a moment to take his readers on fantastic adventures in which Christopher becomes an astronaut or clouds become alien spaceships. Still, Christopher is not telling lies in this. He is simply reporting objectively on the images and thoughts that are, in fact, occurring in his mind. What could be more truthful? Discuss the relationship of truth and untruth in this unique novel.

Christopher is a champion manipulator, although he is apparently unaware of it, and his victims haven't a clue. What are some specific examples of how Christopher manipulates "normal" adults into doing his wishes?

Christopher Boone notices every detail of the world around him. Though Christopher's autism inspires his attentiveness, every reader can learn from his approach to life. Using Christopher's keen senses as inspiration, write an essay describing your bedroom, your classroom, or your favorite place to a friend.

Throughout The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, Christopher learns how to define and tell white lies. Early in the story, he says he "is a good person" because he "can't tell lies." Christopher defines a white lie as "not a lie at all," but "where you tell the truth but you do not tell all of the truth." Discuss the difference between white lies and regular lies with a friend or small group. Afterward, write an essay that summarizes your thoughts regarding white lies and regular lies. Include a personal experience to illustrate your thoughts.

The entire novel is written from Christopher's point of view. Think about how this story would be different if it included Siobhan's, Ed Boone's, or even Mrs. Alexander's point of view. Write an essay answering one or more of the following questions: 1. How would having the point of view of other characters in the novel alter the story's credibility? 2. How would having their point of view change a reader's perception of Christopher? 3. How would a different narrative style modify the mystery elements?




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