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Themes

You might not notice how often Christopher mentions lying in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time – until he's hit with one very big lie that turns his world upside-down. He can't help but take lying very seriously, since he's so dependent on those around him to help him understand the subtle aspects of human interaction. But he allows himself more wiggle room in sometimes telling some fibs, especially when he sets out on his forbidden detective adventure. In a way, we can forgive him, since no one else is dependent on his words like he is on theirs. But it's still rather surprising, the way he twists logic to support his… dishonesty? Can we use so strong a word? We're not sure. Maybe "not-total-honesty" would be better, or "kinda-sorta-lying." But those aren't real words. Can you think of a better way of putting it?

Questions About Lies and Deceit

  1. What do you think of Christopher's claim that white lies are not lies, but that stories and metaphors are lies? More to the point, if someone told Christopher a white lie, do you think he would consider it a lie?
  2. Christopher's father argues that lying is something that can happen accidentally – that one can stumble into a lie. Do you agree with this position?
  3. While speaking with his father in the zoo, Christopher equates loving someone with telling him or her the truth. Where do you think this idea came from? Why might this connection be particularly strong for someone in Christopher's position?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Christopher is so focused on getting what he wants that he's blind to his own lies. Even when he learns that his father lied about his mother's death, he's unable to reflect on his own deceitful activities.

Christopher's father was right to lie to his son, since knowing the truth about his mother would make things more difficult and painful for both of them.

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