The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
by Mark Haddon
Versions of Reality Quotes in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
How we cite our quotes:
Then Sir Arthur Conan Doyle heard about the pictures and he said he believed they were real in an article in a magazine called The Strand. But he was being stupid, too, because if you look at the pictures you can see that the fairies look just like fairies in old books and they have wings and dresses and tights and shoes [...] (139.6)
Elsewhere in the book (181.9), Christopher tells a little fable about an economist, a logician, and a mathematician. The moral of the story is that we should be careful making generalizations. So should Christopher be so confident in his dismissal of fairies here? He can say the pictures in the magazine were fake, sure. But can he be so certain that fairies don't exist that he should ridicule other people (including one of his heroes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle) for believing in them?
That was because when I was little I didn't understand about other people having minds. And Julie said to Mother and Father that I would always find this very difficult. But I don't find this difficult now. Because I decided that it was a kind of puzzle, and if something is a puzzle there is always a way of solving it. (163.8)
This is probably the most explicit reference in the book to Christopher feeling different and separate from the people around him, and having made a specific effort to interact with people in a "normal" way.
And people are different from animals because they can have pictures on the screens in their heads of things which they are not looking at. They can have pictures of someone in another room. Or they can have a picture of what is going to happen tomorrow. Or they can have pictures of themselves as an astronaut. Or they can have pictures of really big numbers. Or they can have pictures of chains of reasoning when they're trying to work something out.
And that is why a dog can go to the vet and have a really big operation and have metal pins sticking out of its leg but if it sees a cat it forgets that it has pins sticking out of its leg and chases after the cat. But when a person has an operation it has a picture in its head of the hurt carrying on for months and months. And it has a picture of all the stitches in its leg and the broken bone and the pins and even if it sees a bus it has to catch it doesn't run because it has a picture in its head of the bones crunching together and the stitches breaking and even more pain. (163.15-16)
Is it just us, or does Christopher seem to prefer the dog's version of reality here? Maybe it's just the way he describes the "bones crunching together" that makes us wince (and we assume that the option that doesn't include that thought must be better). Also, as we've mentioned, Christopher claims he has a hard time imagining things that aren't there. Does this mean that he'd put himself on the dog side of things?