Study Guide

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

By Mark Haddon


In The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Christopher is isolated, and so totally psyched about it. He doesn't like being around people, really doesn't enjoy talking, and absolutely hates being touched. When he wants to relax, he just crams himself into the smallest space he can fit into, and hangs out there for a few hours. But at the same time, he's deeply connected to the world around him. He understands things that few of us could dream of grasping (for example, astrophysics), and notices his surroundings in more detail than we could ever imagine. In fact, one reason he likes being shut into dark spaces is because he experiences the world around him so intensely that it's simply overwhelming; only with distance can he really relax and process all that information. So in a way, the more isolated he is, the more connected he becomes.

Questions About Isolation

  1. Christopher prefers to be alone, but knows he's unable take care of himself on his own. Is there a contradiction here?
  2. When Christopher carries Toby in his pocket, the rat is constantly trying to escape. Why does Christopher want him there, and why does Toby want out?
  3. Christopher doesn't like to be touched. He also insists that different foods must not touch each other on his plate. Coincidence? We doubt it. Is there anything more we can say about this?
  4. Why is Christopher okay touching animals, but not humans?

Chew on This

Christopher's isolation is pretty extreme. But we can't help but notice that the people around him are pretty much all alone, too: his father, Mrs. Shears, Mrs. Alexander, Siobhan, Rhodri. No one seems to have a family. In a way, everyone is as isolated as Christopher.

Christopher's self-imposed isolation is only reinforced by his ridicule of his classmates. If he could try to be a little nicer, their positive reaction might encourage him to actually spend more time with others.