Study Guide

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time Freedom and Confinement

By Mark Haddon

Freedom and Confinement

We're dealing with a lot of different factors of freedom and confinement in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time: physical, mental, emotional, and even spiritual. At times, these factors are oppositionally related – that is, more freedom in one means more confinement in another. For example, Christopher thinks most clearly when he's hidden in tight spaces: physical confinement results in mental freedom. His emotional state is trickier, because he's by nature closed-down and internally-focused. His spiritual life is, in one sense, one of boundless curiosity and depth, and in another sense, one of narrow judgmental ridicule. Ultimately, we could say that Christopher's freedom allows him to be confined, as much as his confinement gives him great freedom.

Questions About Freedom and Confinement

  1. We don't know much about Christopher's school day. How do you imagine his schedule? Do you think he would prefer a strict structure or a lot of free time?
  2. Christopher likes being squeezed into tight spaces, but he can't stand being hugged. Why are these things not contradictory?
  3. Let's say Christopher could choose to live anywhere in the world. Where do you think he would live: somewhere busy and crowded? Or somewhere quiet with lots of open space? Why might this decision be difficult for him?

Chew on This

Christopher much prefers confinement to freedom. Even though he likes to look at the sky, he freaks out whenever he has too much freedom.

After his trip to London, Christopher feels much more comfortable in open spaces.