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The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time

Main Ideas

Protagonist

Main Ideas Protagonist

Christopher Boone is the protagonist and narrator of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. At the beginning of the novel, he discovers the slain body of Mrs. Shears’s poodle, Wellington, and decides he must discover who murdered him. Christopher’s chief motivation for investigating Wellington’s murder is his preoccupation with truth and the rules. Christopher relies on logic and facts for understanding, rather than his emotions, and in order to feel safe, he needs to know that the people in his life tell him the truth and follow the law. On the way back from the police station, Christopher tells his father he must discover who killed Wellington because “when someone gets murdered you have to find out who did it so that they can be punished.” Christopher’s singular goal of solving the murder mystery drives the rest of the novel forward, and eventually leads Christopher to new levels of independence.

Despite his father’s objections, Christopher determines to be brave and find the truth. Not only does Christopher value law and order, but he is also obsessive and single-minded in his interests. Christopher compares himself to the fictional detective Sherlock Holmes, writing, “‘Sherlock Holmes had, in a very remarkable degree, the power of detaching his mind at will.’ And this is like me, too, because if I get really interested in something…I don’t notice anything else and Father can be calling me to come and eat my supper and I won’t hear him.” Christopher’s obsessive focus and self-determination—as well as his ability to tune out his father—act as the driving force of the plot, as his father obstructs him with increasingly extreme terms. In the end, Christopher’s obsessive search for the truth bests his father’s objections, as Christopher uncovers his mother’s affair, the fact that she lives in London, and ultimately that his father killed Wellington. These discoveries prompt Christopher to find his mother in London, as he no longer feels safe with his father. By the end of the novel, Christopher lives with his mother in Swindon and slowly reconciles with his father, especially after he gifts Christopher with a puppy, which appeals to Christopher’s need to feel safe. Christopher is proud of his bravery and intelligence, and has more self-confidence than ever. His mother and father are clearly remorseful for their selfish and deceptive behavior, but it remains unclear whether they will able to resolve their differences and rise to the occasion of parenting Christopher.