Reading: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time NOTE: I don’t have the book
Respond to at least 3 of the following threads w/ posts of a minimum 150 words each. Try to keep your responses focused: aim for a single point, which you expand on and illustrate with moments in the text.
1- In chapter 97, Christopher rejoices that “I saw 5 red cars in a row, which made it as Super Good Day, and I knew something special was going to happen” (53). We rational readers know that seeing 5 red cars in a row has no special bearing on cause and effect, but we might agree that Christopher’s superstitious belief may prime him to find significance arbitrarily. What kinds of superstitious beliefs, hysterias, or prophecy-seeking seem to be operating in our present-day world? How do they operate according to narrative logic, even in their irrationality?
2- On pages 43-44, Christopher makes a series of comments about the learning difficulties and special needs of his classmates, resolving to “prove that [he’s] not stupid” by earning an A grade on his A level in maths. (An A level is essentially be understood as a college-entrance exam in the UK.) To what extent would you say that testing provides Christopher an outlet for feeling normal? What are the limits of this outlet, and how do the limits of test-taking/test-success fail to account for the richness of Christopher’s life outside of school?
3- In chapter 53, we learn that Christopher’s mother has died. Pay close attention to Christopher’s reaction in this chapter and his hyper-emphasis on finding a medical explanation for how and why his mother has died at the early age of 38. How might we explain Christopher’s unique reaction to his mother’s death, and what are his subsequent actions and preoccupations meant to represent in the novel?
4- Christopher provides the etymology of the word “metaphor” on page 15, explaining that it “means carrying something from one place to another. . . . This means that the word metaphor is a metaphor.” But he goes on to explain that metaphors “should be called a lie because a pig is not like a day and people do not have skeletons in their cupboards” (15). He then extends this reading to an analysis of his own name and is upset that his name references a story (about Christ) rather than himself. This raises the question, however: is it impossible for language/words to represent reality as such? Aren’t all names or words (i.e. signifiers) separate and detached from the real things they reference (i.e. the signified)? Or can language promote truth even despite the incongruity between words and the real world?
5- Haddon’s novel includes a series of illustrations and infographics (the first of which appear on pages 2-3 with images that represent emotions; others appear on pages 10-13, etc.). How do these images either supplement or constrain your reading of the narrative? More broadly, how might you extend your analysis of these infographics to infographics used it the real worldâ€”to what extent, for example, do infographics on news articles or social media project a narrative logic for understanding the world, politics, society, global health? Is this narrative logic ultimately helpful or reductive?
6- To what extent does Christopher’s relationship to knowledge mirror our own? On one hand, Christopher seems to be incredibly knowledgable about a wide array of subjects yet totally in the dark or else naive about others. Does our real-world situation re: the pandemic present a similar situation in which we might question our knowledge of the world?