The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time was marketed as a book about a boy with unusual skills and intelligence that embarks on a quest to find out who killed his neighbors dog, and it turns out to be so much more than that.
Christopher, Mark Haddon’s main character, is exceptionally gifted at math and science, but when it comes to communicating with the people around him, he struggles more than the average teenager. You see, Christopher has some sort of mental development issues. It is never stated directly in the book that there is anything wrong with Christopher, and that’s exactly the point. The book isn’t about Christopher’s “disability” but about how he sees the world and experiences it in a unique way.
The story is told from Christopher’s perspective, therefore reader’s find out everything as he does. If this were any other character, the story would play out completely differently. So, it’s important that Christopher is our main character and that we view everything through his lens. It influences how readers feel about his parents, his neighbors, and his actions.
The story begins when Christopher stumbles upon one his neighbor’s dogs, dead in her yard. Because he doesn’t know how to properly communicate with the cops that show up on the scene, Christopher is taken to jail. After he is released, Christopher dedicates himself to finding out who killed Wellington, the dog. This is when Christopher begins to write his book (the book readers are reading). He only uses prime numbers to designate the beginnings of his chapters, he includes funny descriptions because his therapist told him that’s what he’s supposed to do, and he adds an appendix to highlight interesting math problems because that’s his favorite thing to do in his free time. It’s quite the unique story and the plot is relatively engaging, but Haddon wasn’t concerned with the plot when he wrote the book, he was concerned with Christopher. The reader is supposed to be interested enough in the plot to keep turning the page, but the real development occurs with Christopher.
Throughout the story, Christopher is pushed to his limits. Because he wants to find out about the dog, and ultimately, his mother, Christopher is forced to do things he has never done before, like talk to strangers, take long train rides alone, and visit unfamiliar cities. Through every experience, he grows exponentially as a person, and the reader grows right alongside him. The reader grows to look at the world through a different perspective, appreciate the little victories in life, and accept people for who they are.
The point of this book isn’t to tell a great story about a family coming back together, but to help people look at the world in a different light. What may be a small hill to one person, is a mountain to another. We all have our own battles in this world, and we all face them differently. The important thing is that we are all human, we all have feelings, and we should all show compassion toward one another.
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time isn’t a confounding Sherlock Holme’s mystery but a subtle reminder that we are all experiencing the world in our own unique ways.