The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time | Study Guide

Mark Haddon

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Course Hero, "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time Study Guide," August 23, 2017, accessed September 25, 2018, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/The-Curious-Incident-of-the-Dog-in-the-Night-Time/.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time | Chapters 67–73 | Summary

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Summary

Chapter 67

It's Saturday and Christopher's father spends the day watching football on television, giving Christopher free rein to interview his neighbors about Wellington's death. He knocks on the door of three houses on his block even though he hates speaking to strangers. Christopher explains he isn't afraid of "Stranger Danger" because he can hit people very hard, recalling a time he knocked a classmate unconscious after she pulled his hair.

He knocks at a few houses without success but when he asks one neighbor whether she knows anyone that might want to make Mrs. Shears sad, the neighbor responds, "Perhaps you should be talking to your father about this." A few houses later Christopher speaks with an elderly woman named Mrs. Alexander who seems desperate for company. She tries to chat with Christopher, but he isn't capable. She invites him in for tea, but he declines. As he walks he deduces the person who killed Wellington likely did so because they knew Mrs. Shears and wanted to make her sad. He knows the Shears were recently divorced and decides Mr. Shears is his prime suspect.

Chapter 71

Christopher considers what it means to be labeled "special needs." He doesn't understand why some people have the label and others don't when everyone has special needs. His father, for example, can only use artificial sweetener instead of sugar, and his teacher wears glasses. He is excited to take the A-level math exam soon and he'll be the first student in his school to ever sit an A-level exam. These exams are university entrance exams and are quite difficult. Christopher excels in math and science and believes passing the exam will prove to everyone that he isn't stupid. Initially, the school didn't want to let Christopher take the exam, but Mrs. Boone fought back until they agreed.

Chapter 73

Growing up, Christopher used to worry his parents would divorce over the stress of raising a child with so many behavioral problems. He lists all his problems and explains why they make his parents angry. Once his mother shouted, "You're going to drive me into an early grave."

Analysis

Suspense grows as readers begin piecing together facts Christopher cannot comprehend. The neighbors' statements make clear Mrs. Shears and Christopher's father have a close, perhaps even a romantic, relationship, but Christopher doesn't have the emotional intelligence to deduce the suggestion. He takes everything said at face value, ignoring clear signs something was wrong, like Mrs. Shears's frequent evening visits and the growing unrest in his parents' marriage. Clearly the neighbors, as well as the reader, know much more about the situation than Christopher, which also explains Mr. Boone's angry demand Christopher "stay out of other people's business."

In Chapter 73 Christopher lists out his 18 "behavioral problems" which include screaming when angry, groaning, and not smiling. He exhibits a strange blend of self-awareness and helplessness and knows the ways he acts can cause problems, yet that does not seem to be enough to keep him from behaving in these ways. There is a lack of logic to some of the ways he approaches the world considering his overriding desire for reason and truth. Christopher is aware of this contradiction in his personality and points out most "normal" people do irrational or superstitious things which give them some sense of comfort or control.

Although Christopher displays little empathy toward others, his ability to point out the human frailties he shares with everyone makes him more sympathetic to the reader. The reader must decide whether Christopher is sufficiently aware of the dramatic irony in his statements to recognize that he too is sometimes untruthful and complicated, like other people and like life.

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