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The curious incident of the dog in the night time rain man

A journey through the world of an autistic savant Dan Cryer.

The curious incident of the dog in the night time rain man

Dan Cryer is a staff writer for Newsday, a Tribune Co. Remember how Hoffman made the autistic savant he played in the 1988 movie "Rain Man" so memorable? Raymond could barely relate to people, but he could call up square roots and arcane baseball stats in a flash. Sacks' books on patients with neurological disabilities have transformed them from oddballs into real people. His case study of Temple Grandin, in "An Anthropologist on Mars," showed us that a woman who had to invent a machine to get her hugs--hugging real people was too scary--was not a freak but a person who could live productively in the world.

She's a professor of animal husbandry. Psychologists tell us that autism comes in many forms. However severe or mild, the common thread is a pathological aversion to social interaction. Autistics insist on structure and schedules. If their routines are disrupted, they explode into tantrums.

Books to Read After "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time"

They may laugh or cry when it's inappropriate. They may not want to be touched. They usually prefer to be alone. Yet, as "Rain Man" made clear, in fields not requiring social skills, autistics may possess genius-like expertise.

Mark Haddon's superb first novel, "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time," is a first-person account of an autistic savant. Christopher John Francis Boone, 15, lives with his father, a furnace and boiler repairman, in Swindon, England. He attends a special school for children with various problems, most of whom lack his extraordinary intellect.

In his head, ready for instant recall, are all the prime numbers up to 7,057, the capital cities of every nation and data about the Milky Way galaxy.

He's intent on passing his A Levels something like our advanced-placement exams in math and physics and attending a university. He aspires to be a scientist or astronaut. Still, Christopher is no Temple Grandin.

The curious incident of the dog in the night time rain man

His burden is unceasing vigilance against a threatening world. No one, not even his father, is allowed to touch him. Seeing four red cars in a row means a good day lies ahead; four yellow cars signal a bad day.

Such are the exotic means by which he creates order within his head. Social encounters, on the other hand, set up dizzying possibilities he can't control. People communicate with gestures and metaphorical language he can't fathom. Dogs are easier to understand; they are unfailingly honest. Now, the mysterious killing of a neighbor's poodle has put Christopher into Sherlock Holmes mode.

A journey through the world of an autistic savant

He's determined to figure out who did such a terrible deed. But the dog's owner, Mrs. Shears, doesn't want him meddling in her business. Nor does Christopher's father.

Christopher forges ahead anyway. And before long, he's embroiled in all the ambiguities of adult behavior. He's astonished to discover, among other revelations, that his father has lied to him, and that his mother, now dead, had an affair with Mr. Since a schoolboy is telling this story, the sentences are short and straightforward, literal-minded to a fault.

His autistic perspective skews the telling further--uncomprehending, affectless, almost robotic.

  1. It is a puzzle.
  2. Elliott's point — which you do not hear often in this debate — is that the actor is in service of a character as well as inhabiting that character.
  3. Get an answer for 'what is mark haddon's the curious incident of the dog in the night-time about, and what is your opinion of this book' and find homework help for other the curious incident of the dog in the night-time questions at enotes. The secret weapon of the show is, to my mind, pretty simple.
  4. We have seen hundreds of Christophers from all walks of life.
  5. In a variety of contemporary films and television series, autism has been transformed from a disability to a form of giftedness by relating it to abilities associated in contemporary media with a genius, in particular by invoking the metaphor of an autistic mind as a type of computer. It is a puzzle.

Yet the unintentional ironies and out-of-the-mouths-of-babes bits of wisdom fairly leap off the page. For example, Christopher denies to a teacher that learning about his mother's affair makes him sad. Since she's no longer alive, he explains, "I would be feeling sad about something that isn't real. Youthful narrators can make or break a novel. What counts is a credible voice. Think of the wonderfully idiosyncratic lilt to Huck Finn's words, the sly wisdom beneath the hayseed exterior.

Then there's the muffled tenderness that all of Holden Caulfield's gruff, New York sophistication can't hide. More recently, author Alice Sebold in "The Lovely Bones" endowed Susie Salmon with a kind of miraculous grace--a 14-year-old gazing down from heaven with all-forgiving beneficence as her family struggles to cope with her murder. An alternative strategy is to have the narrator look back on adolescence from the maturity of adulthood.

Since Haddon has to make do with a limited narrator, what accounts for the poignance, the surprising universality of his voice? Why do we find ourselves rooting for Christopher, after all? Initially, we're drawn to him because he's both younger and older than his years. When a police officer asks him his age, he replies like a child: Sometimes a slicer is not working fast enough, but the bread keeps coming and there is a blockage.

Later, when the boy has been hauled off to jail, he takes comfort in the solidity of facts and figures.

It's not easy to be the young Christopher in 'Curious Incident'

It contained approximately eight cubic meters of air. Many adventures and tantrums later, Christopher dreams that everyone in the world is dead except "special people like me. And they like being on their own and I hardly ever see them because they are like okapi in the jungle in the Congo which are a kind of antelope and very shy and very rare. And yet, he's one of us. His fear of the unknown and desire to be loved, however magnified and distorted, are ours as well.