Fictional novels have the distinct capability to highlight and address issues to the reader which challenges societal norms. Mark Haddon’s 2003 hybrid novel The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time (Curious Incident) explores the perspective of an individual suffering from autism spectrum disorder by highlighting the challenges and expectations he faces, and his coping mechanisms. Social disorder, a logical mind and honesty and truth are all aspects of Christopher Boone’s characterisation done effectively to offer insights and highlight the difficulties people with autism live with and raise appropriate awareness to shift societal norms.
An individual who feels lost within society, can feel a sense of isolation and paranoia which is capable of clouding thoughts and blurring decisions. Evident through Mark Haddon’s protagonist character, suffering from Aspergers, Christopher Boone highlights the complexities of living with autism and how exposing it can be for society to confront these disabilities. Social Disorder is defined as causing considerable distress and impaired ability to function in at least some parts of daily life. Individuals with social anxiety disorder fear negative evaluation from other people. Through Miller’s effective use of a personal anecdote when Christopher states “He was asking too many questions and he was asking them too quickly. They were stacking up in my head like loaves in the factory where Uncle Terry works” highlights the heightening of social anxiety that can be caused. Haddon is identifying that his brain cannot keep up to numerous questions and needs to process each one logically, due to this not happening he has a stressed response with social disorder limiting his ability to handle confrontation. The use of simile in the quote is a paradox to Christoper saying he doesn’t like or understand them due to his disability but then decides to use one in this statement. Haddon has provided a new insight to the perspective of a person with a disability through this quote as he explores ideas that society may not understand. Additionally, Christopher recognises his disability and the limitations of his disability when he says “This will not be a funny book. I cannot tell jokes because I do not understand them”. The effective use of characterisation highlights how autism limits his ability to bond with others through humour. This creates sympathy and captivates the reader, throughout the book Christophers narration creates an unintended effect on making the reader laugh essentially contradicting this statement. Christophers disability prohibits him from absorbing various statements causing social anxiety due to a lack of understanding and fear. Social Disorder creates a distinct sense of uncertainty and paranoia for people with a disability which highlights flaws in society due to lack of education on the topic.
For certain individuals a common saying can be self explanatory, for someone with a disability a it can be questioned for its accuracy and logic causing a divide and uncertainty between the two. Explored again through the protagonist who suffers from Aspergers, Christopher, is the complexities in relation to logic and the differences experienced in the perspective of someone with a disability. Logic is defined as reasoning conducted or assessed according to strict principles of validity. For someone with a disability it can be extremely difficult to interpret the complex English vocabulary along with colloquialism, Mark Haddon has attempted to highlight this disadvantage. “For example, if people say things which don’t make sense, like, ‘see you later alligator’ … I do a search and see if I have ever heard someone say this before”, in this Christophers logical mind can’t immediately interpret things as colloquial statements don’t make sense. Christopher therefore assigns meaning to things that lead to misunderstandings and illogical conclusions. Through the use of characterisation and metaphor Mark Haddon shows the distinct ability of fictional texts to delve further into the perspective of someone living with a disability. The motif of maths is a compelling technique used by Haddon throughout his novel distinctly displayed when he writes “Prime numbers is what is left when you have taken all the patterns away.” This also acts as a perfect metaphor for his quest to make order and meaning out of a confused world whilst it also being his way of deciphering logic and understanding the world. As well as this, it is a metaphor for Christopher, prime numbers do not fit in with a typical or easy pattern as they are difficult identify and they are rule to no one. Logic is a crucial part of an individuals distinctive mindscape whilst understanding the difficulties of a blurred logic and only seeing logic is extremely difficult and has been explored by Haddon in A Curious Incident.
Honesty and Truth are human qualities capable of forging and defining relationships whilst also having the capabilities to destroy relationships. Mark Haddon explores this idea through key character who suffers from Aspergers, Christopher, and through his significant character development. When Christopher says “I do not tell lies. Mother used to say this was because I was a good person. But it is not because I am a good person. It is because I can’t tell lies” it demonstrates to the reader Christophers capabilities to the reader as someone with a disability. Christopher clearly uses truth to establish trust with people, whilst Haddon simultaneously allows for developments of character by highlighting the complexities of a disability and how it affects those around the individuals. For society this new insight is important as for people with disabilities such as Christopher with showing honesty and truth it can lead to trouble with saying things people think are traditionally rude although it may not be intentional. Christophers behavioural problems are amplified by his uncontrollable truth and honesty. Conveyed through “People say that you always have to tell the truth. But they do not mean this because you are not allowed to tell old people they are old…” is Christopher acknowledging the complexities of honesty and societal expectations. Evidently Christopher would feel more comfortable in a world of straightforward and truth as he struggles to navigate the grey area of truth. People who car for Christopher struggle to navigate grey areas with him leading to heightened conflict. Mark Haddon has effectively provided insight to the reader about honesty and truth and the devastating impacts it can have on this with a disability and people around them.
Subsequently, fiction texts have the ability to convey important ideas and expose societal norms whilst also challenge individuals behaviour. Individuals with a disability suffer from social disorder, only understanding logical answers and uncontrollable honesty and truth which is explored in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time raising awareness and providing appropriate insight to society. Through effective use of simile, paradox, characterisation and character development Mark Haddon has provided insight to the audience and educated those lacking understanding on people with a disability.