The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Mark Haddon’s novel — which was adapted into a play in 2012 — begins as a murder mystery: someone has killed Christopher Boone’s neighbour’s dog, Wellington. And when someone is murdered, Christopher reasons, you have to find out who is responsible. But Christopher has “behavioural problems” that make launching a murder investigation quite difficult. He does not like to talk to strangers, or go to new places and he does not understand emotions. Unfortunately, he begins to discover that Wellington’s death is part of a far bigger web of lies and deceit in his own family — and he is forced to confront all of the things he most fears.

Autism

Christopher never describes himself as having Asperger’s Syndrome, but it is widely accepted that this is the condition the novel explores in such detail. It is a form of autism which is often associated with high levels of intelligence, and a difficulty understanding social situations.

Truth

For Christopher, truth is simple: something is true or it isn’t. He hates lies — he even hates novels and metaphors, because they are a form of lying. This is why he finds comfort in science and maths. But, as the adults around him know all too well, truth can also be extremely subjective.

Logic

As he tells his story, Christopher often veers off into digressions about maths, logic and science — subjects he excels at. This is the reality he understands, and it is why he finds the illogical, disordered world of London so overwhelming. Does he have a point?

Isolation

Being alone is not scary to Christopher — in fact, it is one of the only times that he can feel truly free, away from the messy and confusing influences of other people. He even fantasises about being the only person left alive on the Earth. Does isolation have to be a bad thing?

Growing up

Like all teenagers, Christopher dreams of being independent one day, although he admits that he will find this more difficult than others. But, at their heart, coming-of-age stories all share similar themes: overcoming fears, taking risks, and learning what is really important.