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Jessica FacchiniEL-499-INTLDr. WifallApril 15, 2015The Portrayal of Asperger’s Syndrome and Mental Disability in The CuriousIncident of the Dog in the NighttimeMark Haddon’s best-selling novel The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime tells the story of Christopher Boone, an English boy who is on the autism spectrum, knows every prime number up to 7,057, and knows the train timetables which proves helpful when he escapes from his home in Swindon, England to live with his mother in London. Christopher Boone is very smart in mathematics, taking his A-level test in his math class, and has many other quirks. He detests to be touched, he hates the color yellow, and he would much rather prefer animals to people. His skills and quirks are evident in people who have mental disabilities on the autism spectrum, such as Savant Syndrome and Asperger’s Syndrome. Christopher’s mental tendencies make him who he is; they make the reader admire Christopher through his stubborn tendencies and habits. They make the reader see him as an admirable figurehead for those on the autism spectrum. Christopher Boone sees the world different from the average, non-autistic person. In fact, readers’ acclaim for the novel often lists that among the reasons why they find Haddon’s piece of literature so enjoyable. Stuart Murray’s academic article notes: Facchini 1
The Curious Incident grounds Christopher's version of the world in terms thatinscribe his narrative as normal and rational. In the same way that each of thechapters of Christopher's narrative is labeled with a prime number, a digit both utterly unique and yet part of a wider, potentially infinite, collective group, Christopher's exceptionality is the normative basis for the narrative that we, as readers, receive (Murray, "Autism and the Contemporary Sentimental: Fiction and the Narrative Fascination of the Present").By reading the book as a person not on the autism spectrum, the reader gains knowledge of the view from the eyes of someone who sees the world and has interests and tendencies different from themselves. Being publishing in 2003, Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime was revealed in a time when people are much more concerned and sympathetic over mental disabilities and differences. Something like autism is not astaboo as it was previously and is understood in better context in post-Haddon days, which explains why Christopher Boone resonates so well with the literary audience.