The murder mystery novel, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time, is written by Mark Haddon. The story is narrated from the perspective of an Autistic (ASD) teenager, Christopher Boone. Haddon portrays ideas about difference through a variety of ways throughout the novel. The first way being from the unusual perspective of Christopher, as he fails to understand basic emotions and social interactions. The idea of difference is also conveyed through the several genres. Unlike a conventional story, several genres have been developed as the story begins from a typical ‘who dunnit’ murder mystery novel and then develops into a journey of discovery type novel. As well as this, Haddon cleverly places Cristopher at the forefront of the novel in order to manipulate the rubrics of a conventional story through his abnormal writing structure. Thus, difference is conveyed throughout the story through the unorthodox perspective of the Christopher, Haddon’s use of multiple genres as well as his unusual structure of writing.
Haddon conveys ideas about difference using the first-person perspective of the unconventional story-teller Christopher. Through the experiences and everyday settings encountered by Christopher, Haddon is able to convey multiple ideas of difference that exists between the world which he has created and normal society. This allows the readers to experience an insight on how those with ASD handle basic emotions and social interactions in comparison to society and the conventional narrator. The differences between Christopher and the typical narrator are show at the beginning of the text. As Christopher states that he could identify the emoticons happiness and sadness, but he was ‘unable to say what these (other emoticons) meant’. This demonstrates how Christopher is unable to understand basic social communication methods. Christopher’s differences are further illustrated, as he is unable to be in a public place, because too many strangers and noises cause sensory overload due to his ASD. This leads to him groaning loudly in order to ignore what’s going on around him. This is shown when Christopher goes to the train station. “There were too many people, I felt sick, I closed my eyes and started to groan really loudly.” This further displays his inability to process social interactions and his emotions. His differences are also highlighted with the way Christopher expresses his love and with his inability to comprehend body language. In order to express his love with his father, they spread their fingers out in a fan and let their ‘fingers and thumb touch each other’. This is to prevent sensory overload. This expression of love is unordinary and causes Christopher difficulties in understanding body language. These difficulties are illustrated near the end of the novel when Christopher threatens a stranger with a knife and the man backs away with his fingers spread out like ‘he wanted to say he loved me’. Both of these examples demonstrate difference through Christopher’s inability to interpret body language, and his unorthodox way of expressing love. Haddon use of the perspective of Christopher, causes the readers to experience the life of a child with ASD, who struggles with understanding basic social interactions as well as with expressing and understanding emotions. The purpose of this is to create empathy amongst the readers for those with ASD.
Haddon portrays interesting ideas regarding difference through his almost immediate differentiation of the novel’s structure from conventional novels. Haddon cleverly manipulates the structure of a conventional story as he changes the genre of the book. He shifts away from the genre of a murder mystery novel towards the genre, journey of discovery. The victim of the murder is quickly made known as Christopher states that ‘The dog is dead.” Haddon’s use of short and sharp sentences is used to create tension amongst the readers in order to place significance on the murder of the dog. Christopher is positioned at the front of the novel as the detective and uses jargon in order to solve the murder. His constant use of terms such as ‘murder weapon’ and ‘prime suspect’ in reference to the garden fork and Mr Shears, is placed to intensify the importance of solving the murder mystery for Christopher. This causes the tension to grow within the novel and leads to a climatic resolution. Through Christopher’s persistent investigations on the murder mystery, he discovers the identity of the murderer, which is made known in the middle of the novel. The murderer turns out to be his father, and in a confession his father states that he had fabricated the death of Christopher’s mother. Haddon’s unconventional way of placing the resolution in the middle of the text allows him to manipulate the typical novel as he is able to change genres. ‘It’s not safe at home, I need to find mum.’ This illustrates how Haddon capitalises on the act of betray committed by Christopher’s father to change the genre of the novel to a journey of discovery. Christopher is now set on a path of independence in order to find his mum who lives in London. This forces Christopher to leave his home town of Swindon to find his mum. He is faced with a plethora of challenges due to his ASD, which he needs to overcome in order to find his mum and independence. This enables Haddon to develop a different way of writing, unseen by those in the narrative organisation, through the use of changing genres.