The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time Study Guide

Welcome to the LitCharts study guide on Mark Haddon's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. Created by the original team behind SparkNotes, LitCharts are the world's best literature guides.

Brief Biography of Mark Haddon

Mark Haddon studied literature at Merton College, Oxford. He worked for a time with people with disabilities, and has also worked as an illustrator. He wrote a number of successful children’s books before The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and has since begun writing for adults. Haddon also teaches creative writing at Oxford University. He is an atheist and a vegetarian.
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Historical Context of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Autism, a central aspect of the book, was not recognized until the twentieth century, and for many years, it was regarded without question as a disorder for which a cure needed to be found. The autism rights movement began in the late 1980s and is still gaining strength, led by autistic people who believe that they need no cure; instead, society needs to change its perspective on autistic people. People on the autism spectrum, they argue, function differently than others, but not in a lesser way. In fact, they have many qualities that allow them to excel in particular areas. Curious Incident could certainly be read as expressing support for this point of view. For his part, Mark Haddon claims to know little about autism, saying that Christopher matters more as a character for his unique perspective on the world than for the fact that he is on the autism spectrum.

Other Books Related to The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Christopher makes frequent references to The Hound of the Baskervilles, a Sherlock Holmes story by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Sherlock Holmes, perhaps the most famous fictional detective, was the main character of numerous mystery stories written at the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth. In some ways, Christopher uses the story of The Hound of the Baskervilles as a model for his own, because he likes reading Sherlock Holmes stories and because it also deals with a dog. Christopher also tries to imitate Sherlock Holmes in his attempts to solve the mystery of Wellington’s death, looking for clues and red herrings (false clues) and using logic to deduce what happened. Furthermore, the title of Haddon’s novel comes from the Sherlock Holmes story “The Adventure of Silver Blaze.” In this short story, “the curious incident of the dog in the night-time” is that the dog stayed quiet all through the night when a crime was committed, which Holmes takes as an indication that the culprit is someone known to the dog. Similarly, in Haddon’s novel, the killer of the dog ends up to be someone known to both the dog and to Christopher himself—his father.
Key Facts about The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
  • Full Title: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
  • Where Written: Oxford, England
  • When Published: 2003
  • Literary Period: Contemporary fiction, Postmodernism
  • Genre: Novel
  • Setting: Swindon, in Wiltshire, England, and London, in the late twentieth century
  • Climax: Christopher realizing that his mother is alive, and his father admitting he killed Wellington.
  • Antagonist: Christopher’s father, Ed Boone, and society as a whole
  • Point of View: First person

Extra Credit for The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Christopher’s stage debut. Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time has been adapted for the stage and began its run in London’s West End in 2013.

Don’t judge a book by its cover. The novel has been marketed to readers of all ages, and was even published in two versions with different covers—one for children, and one for adults.