The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time


Mark Haddon

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The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time Themes

Themes and Colors
Growing Up Theme Icon
Trust Theme Icon
Truth, Love, and Safety Theme Icon
Logic vs. Emotion Theme Icon
Perspective and the Absurdity of the World Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

Growing Up

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time can be read as a bildungsroman, a German term that means a coming-of-age story. In bildungsromans, the main character, who is often an adolescent, grows and learns about life over the course of the story, so that they’re more adult at the end than they were at the beginning. At the beginning of the book, Christopher is very much still a child, largely due…

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Christopher has trouble understanding other people, so he usually fails to perceive nuances in people’s personalities, instead categorizing them in a certain way that dictates how he interacts with them. These categorizations often influence whether or not Christopher feels that he can trust certain people, and his social interactions depend almost entirely on whether or not he trusts the other person.

Whenever Christopher meets someone new, he assumes they’re untrustworthy until he can see some…

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Truth, Love, and Safety

Christopher sees truth as an anchoring principle of the world, and values it almost the way other people might value right over wrong. If someone tells the truth, he can trust them, and if they lie, he fears them. However, Christopher also finds out that the truth can hurt as much as a lie. While he is constantly aware of his physical safety, carrying his knife in case someone tries to attack him and taking…

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Logic vs. Emotion

Christopher, who is probably on the autism spectrum, struggles in interactions that depend on emotion or personality. Rather than sensing that someone is sad because of the tone of their voice, he often only perceives this emotion when the person starts crying and he can see physical evidence of their sadness.

Christopher best understands situations that he can explain logically rather than emotionally. He tries to be like the detective Sherlock Holmes, because…

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Perspective and the Absurdity of the World

The actions of people on the autism spectrum often seem difficult to comprehend for people who are not autistic. However, telling the story from Christopher’s perspective helps the reader understand his worldview and question the generally accepted rules of society.

Christopher sees society from a somewhat removed perspective. He doesn’t instinctively understand why people act in certain ways or why certain things are expected of him. As a result, he notices aspects of everyday…

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