The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
by Mark Haddon
Language and Communication Quotes in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
How we cite our quotes:
I do not like strangers because I do not like people I have never met before. They are hard to understand. It is like being in France, which is where we went on holiday sometimes when mother was alive, to camp. (67.4)
What do you make of this comparison? Christopher writes that he finds strangers hard to understand. This makes sense, since the people around him know he has difficulty with body language and adjust their communication accordingly, while strangers will speak to him in ways he doesn't understand. But do you think it makes sense to compare this to people literally speaking in a foreign tongue? Do you buy it? Does this change the way you think of Christopher's disorder?
I didn't reply to this either because Mrs. Alexander was doing what is called chatting where people say things to each other which aren't questions and answers and aren't connected. (67.67)
It isn't difficult to connect Christopher's idea of conversation to math problems. In his mind, "chatting" would be like one person saying "two plus two" and another person responding "seventy-five," or "eighteen times thirty" and "six."
This is what Siobhan says is called a rhetorical question. It has a question mark at the end, but you are not meant to answer it because the person who is asking it already knows the answer. It is difficult to spot a rhetorical question. (127.15)
By now we can understand why rhetorical questions would be confusing to Christopher. Using the same analogy from the previous quote, this would be like someone asking him, "What's sixteen divided by four?" and not expecting an answer. What's different about this example is the last sentence, which reveals a sadness, or weariness, at his confusion.