Study Guide

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time Fear

By Mark Haddon


The world is a dangerous place – at least according to Christopher Boone, who sees danger in anything and everything that's unfamiliar to him. Most of the time he's okay since he makes sure to stay within his comfort zone. But, halfway through The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, circumstances force him to bravely thrust himself outside that bubble, and the world he finds outside is a scary place indeed. Why is it so scary? One could argue that it has a lot to do with the degree to which Christopher is able to control every aspect of his daily life, and predict every event sneaking up around the corner. When that tight control is taken away, he's absolutely paralyzed by fear. And we all know that "tight control" is simply impossible to achieve all the time.

Questions About Fear

  1. Why does Christopher assume the worst of strangers? Does this stem from something he's been taught? Or from his general distrust of unfamiliar things?
  2. When writing about heaven (61.6), Christopher gives the impression that he isn't at all frightened of death. Is this surprising? Why or why not?
  3. Christopher suggests he can muster courage at will. (For example, he writes, "if you're going to do detective work you have to be brave, so I had no choice" [67.7].) Why does this work in his neighborhood but not, for example, in the train station?
  4. Can you think of anything that Christopher's father might be scared of? What about his mother?

Chew on This

Christopher is right to be afraid of his father. If he can kill a dog in cold blood, who knows what he's capable of.

Christopher is scared of wide open spaces, yet feels very calm staring into the universe (the very biggest thing of all). This proves that his fears are totally illogical.