the curious narrative voice [B-Block!]

Curious Incident

There’s no denying the fact that Christopher, narrator of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, expresses himself much differently than other narrators. In essence, Christopher has a truly unique narrative voice. So, how does author Mark Haddon achieve this effect of narrative voice?

Well, click the link and let’s figure it out!

Context
According to Christopher, he only starts writing this book after Siobhan tells him, “‘Well, we’re meant to be writing stories today, so why don’t you write about finding Wellington and going to the police station’” (26).

The Task at Hand
Using the “Leave a Reply” function at the bottom of the page, describe the narrative voice used in  The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. Be as thorough as possible, and make sure to attach page numbers to every quotation used.

Prompts
A) First, identify one of the key characteristics of Christopher’s narration.
B) Then, record a passage which contains this characteristic.
C) To the best of your ability, describe how this characteristic operates within the passage, and suggest how it contributes to the novel as a whole.

 

17 thoughts on “the curious narrative voice [B-Block!]

  1. A) Christopher’s narration has a short and to the point quality to it. He feels the need to explain the little things that he just doesn’t seem to understand but everyone else does. His narration is very logical, and he explains what he sees. He doesn’t use very heavy description, but his descriptions are accurate and precise.
    B) “On the fifth day, which was a Sunday, it rained very hard. I like it when it rains hard. It sounds like white noise everywhere, which is like silence, but not empty” (103).
    C) This passage shows how Christopher describes such simplistic things in simplistic ways, yet it has a deeper meaning to it. There isn’t a great deal of advanced vocabulary used at all, but somehow he manages to paint such a clear picture in our minds to let us know how and what he feels. There isn’t too much imagery, but he has the ability to get inside of our minds and project what he sees and what he thinks.

  2. The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time

    A) One of the key characteristics of Christopher’s narration is the way he brings about a truthful story line. He has difficulties trying to lie or make up lies because unless he figures out a way to make it all connect in his mind, it just is not worth it to him to go through the trouble of doing so.

    B) “And she said, “Are you telling the truth, Christopher?”

    And then I said, “I always tell the truth.”

    And she said, “I know you do, Christopher. But sometimes we get sad about things and we don’t like to tell other people that we are sad about them.” (109.10-12)

    “People say that you always have to tell the truth. But they do not mean this because you are not allowed to tell old people that they are old and you are not allowed to tell people if they smell funny or if a grown-up has made a fart. And you are not allowed to say, “I don’t like you,” unless that person has been horrible to you.” (73.2)

    C) Christopher addresses how he never lies, and “always tells the truth”. He knows that it is wrong to lie, so he avoids doing so, but he also understands that there are things in life that are better to not be addressed.

  3. A) A characteristic of Christopher’s narration is the very straightforward, to-the-point nature it has. Christopher wastes no time with fluff words that drag the sentence on longer than it needs to be. This connects to how Christopher is as a person because he likes order, and usually likes things to be logical.

    B) “Mr. Jeavons said that I was a very clever boy. I said that I wasn’t clever. I was just noticing how things were, and that wasn’t clever. That was just being observant. Being clever was when you looked at how things were and used the evidence to work out something new.” (25)

    C) This passage directly relates to Christopher’s personality, as well as his style of narration. It has a very matter-of-fact tone. He states what he thinks in comparison to Mr. Jeavons and says nothing else.

  4. Curious Incident
    Christopher’s narration is accurate to the point where it’s uncanny. He tells you exactly what he sees to the detail and will tell you exactly how he is feeling at the time, and what he is thinking at that specific time. He also tells you his opinion or belief with complete honesty, and doesn’t worry about what you think of it.
    “I see everything. That is why I don’t like new places. If I am in a place I know, like home, or school, or the bus, or the shop, or the street, I have see almost everything beforehand and all I have to do is to look at the things that have changed or moved.” pg 140
    This explains why Christopher narrates the way he does. His mind processes everything he sees, and he takes note of evrything that changes. He has to do this, and so this causes his mind to overload.

  5. B) “This is another reason why I don’t like proper novels, because they are lies about things which didn’t happen and they make me feel shaky and scared.
    And this is why everything I have written here is true.”
    Christopher, p. 25

  6. A. One of the key characteristics in Christopher’s writing would be that Christopher often uses lists, examples, and pictures to help the reader better understand what he is trying to say. The way he is narrating the book, he seems very truthful, and he narrates as if he was talking to the reader in person.
    B. “And as I was crossing the street I had a stroke of inspiration about who might have killed Wellington. I was imagining a chain of Reasoning inside my head which was like this
    1. Why would you kill a dog?
    a) because you hated the dog
    b) because you were mad.
    c) because you wanted to make Mrs. Shears upset.
    2. I didn’t know anyone who hated Wellington, so if it was (a) it was probably a stranger…” (42)
    C. This relates to the novel, because he is trying to figure out who killed Wellington, and this is just showing his thought process. This helps the reader to better understand his thought process. Also, you get the feeling that he was thinking and how he is being so honest. It gives his specific reasons on why he thinks the way he does.

  7. A) One important characteristic of Christopher’s narration is the simplicity of context. He always gives it to you how it is. He’s never sarcastic and he never uses literary devices. You always know exactly what he’s trying to tell you because he says it simply. In addition, Christopher spends a large portion of his narration describing things. He describes setting, how things work, how it made him feel, and the purpose of why he is saying it. Often times in novels you miss important plot details because the narrator covers over the simple idea with complicated messages and you may miss the importance of the work. With Christopher it’s easy to follow what he’s trying to say and how he feels.
    B) “I was nervous. I did not know Mrs. Alexander. I knew that she was an old lady and that she likes dogs. But she was a stranger. And I never go into the park on my own because it is dangerous and people inject drugs behind the public toilets in the corner. I wanted to go home and go up to my room and feed Toby and practice some maths,” (59).
    C) In this passage it is clear exactly how Christopher is feeling, that he is nervous, and tells you why he feels this way. He also gives the details of why he doesn’t like the park and what he would like to do instead to make him more comfortable.

  8. A) Christopher’s narration of the Curious Incident of the Dog in The NIght-TIme is very strange. He uses short sentences and goes off topic way more than he should. Although Chris talks in detail and at times says things he should not have said. Lastly, he talks about himself using I so he is the only narrrator of this story. We learn things through dialouge of him reaccoutning the conversations.
    B)”Then she said,”Well, I am very impressed. And I hope you get an A.” “And I said, I will”‘………”No. And its not brown either.My favrorite color is red. And metal color.”
    C)This quote shows both him using dialouge from conversations he has had with other people. This is also shows his use of short sentences and details. He will not let you be wrong, he always corrects people and tells them how it is.

  9. A) One of the key characteristics of Christopher’s narration is he is very straight forward. He describes everything just as he sees it. His narration makes it easy for the reader to follow along. Christopher makes clear sentences that are right to the point, his narration style could be described as simple. Also, he does not try to hide anything from the reader, he does not over-exaggerate any points and usually just tells the story very honestly. Christopher is also judgmental towards people, he even addresses his behavioral problems on page 46 of the book.

    B) A quote that contains Christopher’s characteristic is “I used to have lots of behavioral problems, but I don’t have so many now because I’m more grown up and I can take decisions for myself and do things on my own like going out of the house and buying things at the shop at the end of the road.” (page 46)

    C) This quote relates to Christopher’s characteristics because it shows how he is very honest, he does not try to hide anything from the reader. This quote even shows how much in depth Christopher goes into telling his story because he mentions his behavioral problems along with what those behavioral problems are along with why he behaved the way he did.

  10. A.) A key characteristic of Christopher’s narration is the frequency in which he becomes distracted and leaves the main plot line. He tends to get off track quite easily and will often leave the reader hanging on to a lack of details and waiting for him to focus back on the mystery of the dog’s murder. Much of his narration also consists of Christopher describing his inability to understand other people because of his lack of social skills.
    B.) “He was asking too many questions and he was asking them too quickly. They were stacking up in my head like loaves in the factory where Uncle Terry works. The factory is a bakery and he operates the slicing machines. And sometimes a slicer is not working fast enough but the bread keeps coming and there is a blockage. I sometimes think of my mind as a machine, but not always as a bread-slicing machine. It makes it easier to explain to other people what is going on inside it.” (Pg 7)
    C.) This quote comes from a scene in which Christopher is being questioned by the police and right in the middle of a very important line of questioning, he leaves the action to make an analogy to his uncle’s factory. It also shows his inability to interact with other people as several questions in a row overloads his brain and he shuts himself off from the outside world.

  11. Christopher’s narration is very descriptive yet simplistic. He lets you know everything that’s going on and what he means by everything. He uses a lot of imagery because he wants us to see the world the way he sees it.
    “Then I sniffed the air to see if I could see what the air in the garden smelled like. But I couldn’t smell anything. It smelled of nothing. And this was interesting, too.
    Then I went inside and fed Toby” (69).
    He is very direct. He tells you what he did and why he did it and what he thought of it, and then he moves on to his next thought. He doesn’t over complicate his writing.

  12. A) Christopher is completely and 100% honest with the reader. He simply cannot tell the reader a lie or even so much as stretch the truth. His honesty makes it so easy to convey his voice, because he’s so descriptive that you feel like you’re right there with him throughout the book.
    B) “I got Shiobhan to draw lots of [these] faces and then write down next to them exactly what they meant. I kept the piece of paper in my pocket and took it out when I didn’t understand what someone was saying.”
    C) Christopher’s brutal honesty is very strongly shown through this quote. Sure, he knows he’s autistic, but he has no problem sharing the problems he has that come with it. He doesn’t seem to be embarrassed about himself at all. His truthfulness adds a purity to the novel as a whole.

  13. A) One key characteristic of Christopher’s narration is his careful observations of events, but without an emotional or socially cognizant analysis to follow it up.
    B) “He said, ‘I have spoken to your father and he says that you didn’t mean to hit the policeman’
    I didn’t say anything because this wasn’t a question.
    He said ‘Did you mean to hit the policeman?’
    I said, ‘Yes.’
    He squeezed his face and said ‘But you didn’t mean to hurt him did you?’
    I thought about this and said, ‘No. I didn’t mean to hurt the policeman. I just wanted him to stop touching me’ “(Haddon 17).
    C) In this passage, Christopher has a conversation with an inspector, and is being unintentionally difficult. His quick honest answers clearly seem to frustrate the officer, which is seen by Christopher, but not understood. At other parts of the novel, such as when he talks to his fether about the detective work, the reader can tell that his father is visibly frustrated based on Christopher’s recollection of the events, but Christopher does not comprehend what effect his bluntness and steadfastness has on conversations.

  14. A) Christopher has many key characteristics of his narrations. One is the way he changes the subject so drastically. He could be talking about something very important, something that could be sad and yet Christopher cant seem to stay on the serious topic for too long. It almost seems that it’s Christopher’s way of coping with all thats happened to him in his life.

    B) “Mother died two weeks later… She sent me lots of love and had my Get Well card on the table beside her bed. Father said that she liked it very much. The card had pictures of cars on the front. It looked like this… I did it at school with Mrs. Peters, who does art, and it was a lino cut, which is when you draw a picture…” (26-27)

    C) Christopher deals with a lot within his life such as “death” and autism. When he changes the subject so often it could be a kind of coping mechanism. When he found out that his mom was not dead he was not able to deal with it. He was not able to stop thinking about it and he had an episode.

  15. A) A key characteristic to notice in Christopher’s narrration is that he is straight forward in what he says. When he talks, there is no nonsence and you know exactly how he feels. There is little or no interpretation left to be made by the reader themselves, which makes the story more personal. Christopher’s narrration is easy to pick out due to his style of writing. He is propper and will explain in full length what he is meaning to say. While Christopher has a conversation with someone, he breaks off to tell the reader the exact thing he said and what made him say that.
    B) “I decided that I was going to find out who killed Wellington even though Father had told me to stay out of other people’s buiness. This is because I do not always do what I am told. And this is because when people tell you what to do it is usually confusing and does not make sense.” p. 28.
    C) In this passage, Christopher is telling that he is not going to listen to what his father had told him to do. Most books would have stopped after the first sentace, but with Christopher’s style of writing, he explains why he is saying that and why he is not going to obey his father. It contributes to the book not only because this is what the book is about, but it also sets the stage of how he will talk. The reader learns right away that Christopher will be explaining and telling us most of what he says and does.

  16. A) Christopher’s narration is more described and detailed than that of a normal book’s narration. He seems to over-describe events and situations to the point where some of the information isn’t needed as it it implied.
    B) “So I decided to do a description of the garden. But the garden wasn’t very interesting or different. It was just a garden, with grass and had a shed, and clotheslines. But the sky was interesting and different because usually skies look boring because they are all blue or all gray or all covered in one pattern of clouds and they don’t look like they are hundreds of miles above your head.” (68)
    C) This characteristic overly describes the situation. Christopher is autistic and this is a characteristic often seen to be connected to autism. In this passage, Christopher’s teacher tells him that he has to write things in his book as opposed to use pictures, and as a result, he decides to describe the garden in great detail. This example shows that Christopher has autism. With this knowledge, other situations and decisions of Christopher’s make more sense and allow the reader to see through his viewing lens. His narration puts people into his shoes and shows them what he sees and does.

  17. A) Christopher has a factual style of writing. There isn’t a lot of emotion conveyed in what he says. Although he narrates linearly, Chris also talks about writing the story as a class assignment. This also contributes to the unique personality in his writing. It emphasizes how isolated Chris is from the outside world.
    B) “And I said ‘Yes,’ because loving someone is helping them when they get into trouble, and looking after them, and telling them the truth, and Father looks after me when I get into trouble, like coming to the police station,and he looks after me by cooking meals for me, and he always tells me the truth, which means that he loves me “(pg 87).
    C) This passage shows the sort of writing that is present throughout the novel. Instead of simply saying “Dad loves me,” he has to define for us and himself what love is. Chris can’t capture or compute the emotion, but he can recognize it. Throughout the book this Chris describes events and people’s emotions in factual way that shows and contributes to the theme of isolation that is present.

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