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The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time

Mark Haddon

Key Facts

Important Quotations Explained

Study Questions & Essay Topics

full title ·  The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time

author · Mark Haddon

type of work · Novel

genre · Mystery novel; Family drama; Children’s book

language · English

time and place written · Early 2000s, Oxford, England

date of first publication · 2003

publisher · Vintage Contemporaries, a division of Random House Publishing Inc.

narrator · The novel’s mildly autistic protagonist, Christopher John Francis Boone, narrates in the first-person.

point of view · Christopher John Francis Boone speaks in the first person. We are to understand the book as his written account of the murder of his neighbor’s dog, Wellington. Structurally, the novel alternates between a chapter advancing the narrative, and a chapter in which Christopher discusses ideas or concepts worth noting.

tone · Conversational and matter-of-fact.

tense · Past tense

setting (time) · 1998

setting (place) · In and around Swindon, England, with a trip to London, England.

protagonist · Christopher John Francis Boone

major conflict · Christopher’s investigation of Wellington’s murder leads him to uncover a number of secrets about his parents, causing him to lose his trust in Father and to set out to London in search of Mother.

rising action · As Christopher investigates Wellington’s murder, he learns that Mother and Mr. Shears had an affair, that Father and Mrs. Shears also had an affair, that Mother is alive and Father has been lying about her death, and that Father killed Wellington because he was angry with Mrs. Shears.

climax · After a harrowing journey on his own to London in which he must overcome the limits of his condition, Christopher reunites with his mother.

falling action · Christopher moves in with Mother, successfully completes his A-level test in math, and begins to reestablish trust with Father. He recalls all that he has accomplished over the course of the novel and sets out a series of goals for the future.

themes · The Struggle to Become Independent; Subjectivity; the Disorder of Life; Coping with Loss

motifs · Frustration with Christopher; Science and Technology; Animals

symbols · The Murder Investigation; Logic Puzzles, Math Problems, and Maps; The A-Level Test in Math

foreshadowing · Father’s excessive anger over Christopher’s desire to investigate Wellington’s murder; Christopher’s repeated observation that murderers typically know their victims; Christopher’s discovery of a letter from Mother in Father’s closet.

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