The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon


Group Members:

Hannah Moffatt

Julia Richardson

Megan Smith

Catie O'Toole

Everett Gillert

Nik Pelletier

Leah Bevins

Robi Borda

Sophia Siddall
Jen Erickson



Location: Ms. Noack's Room



Group Facilitator: Leah Bevins



Agenda:



*Introductions* (name, grade, etc.)



A. Beginning Whip

1. How did you like the book?

2. Was there anything that you didn’t understand in the book?

3. What was the most interesting part of the book for you?

4. Who was your favorite character? Who was the character you could relate the most to?

5. What was your favorite scene and why?



B. List of Characters:

Christopher

Father

Mother

Mrs. Shears

Mr. Shears

Siobhan

Mrs. Alexander



- What stood out to you about any specific character?

- Did you find Christopher’s interactions with any character especially interesting?

- Did any of the characters have unexpected roles?



C. Open Discussion Starters

- Compare/contrast two characters

- Are there any questions that you would want to ask the author?

- What do you think the author’s message is? Do you think the style of writing matches the message?

- If a chapter were added before or after, what would it look like?

- Did this book make you think about anything in your own life? If so, what?

- Discuss opening and closing sentences.

- What did you think of Christopher leaving and traveling on his own?





D. Three A’s Text Protocol

1. What parts of the text AFFECT you? In pairs, compare notes and find 2-3 passages that make an impact on you.

- Do you think Christopher’s father did the right think telling Christopher that his mother had died?

- Do you think Father was abusive and a bad father to Christopher?

- What would you have done in Father’s place?

2. What parts of the text do you AGREE or DISAGREE with?



F. Leveled Questions

1. Find an especially richly detailed passage in the book

2. Compose factual, interpretive, and evaluative questions or statements and share and discuss with the group.



G. Passage Path

1. Everyone pick out a passage to discuss

2. Go around the group and discuss the importance of the passage and how it compares/contrasts to other passages in the book

3. Work together and discuss the similarities and differences between the passages and the language in the passage


H. Another Point of View

1. Use passages from previous exercises or choose new ones and discuss the narration and the narrators point of view

2. Describe Christopher’s position, level of power, and tone

3. Re-examine passages from another character’s point of view using tools mentioned above



I. Channel the Author

1. Dive the group into two

2. Each mini group composes a question directed to the author

a. Examples: What do you want a reader to learn from your book?, Why did you write this?, Why did you divide the book into the chapters you did?

3. One mini group goes first and asks the other group their question. The other group gets a minute to confer and then a minute to respond to the question in the voice of the author

4. The whole group can openly discuss the response and ideas it generates

5. Repeat the steps with the other mini group’s question



J. Final Questions/Thoughts

1. Are there any other topics that were not discussed?

2. Final impressions of the book?


NPR interview with Mark Haddon:
http://www.npr.org/player/v2/mediaPlayer.html?action=1&t=1&islist=false&id=4707767&m=4707768

Creative Writing Pieces:
Two friends, Odin Optimism and Percy Pessimism are working out at the local gym and for some reason happen to be discussing the book The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon.
Percy: Hey, man! I see you’re reading The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.
Percy points to the book propped up on a nearby treadmill.
Odin: Yeah, I just finished reading it. I thought it was really good.
Percy: Really? I personally hated it.
Odin: And why is that, Percy?
Percy: Well for starters, I found the plot to be very boring. The plot peaks out around halfway through the book when Christopher discovers that it was his father who killed Mrs. Shears’ dog, Wellington, at the beginning of the book. After that point, there’s no more suspense because there’s no real antagonist past that point and it’s pretty certain that Christopher is going to end up fine in the end.
Odin: Percy, buddy, you’ve got it all wrong. It’s not meant to be strictly a mystery novel. During the second half of the book, the antagonist is actually Christopher’s autism. It demonstrates how he reacts to changes from what he’s comfortable and familiar with.
Percy: That may be so, but couldn’t Mr. Haddon have made the later portions of the book more suspenseful?
Odin: Well, seeing how Christopher reacted to some fairly ordinary situations, any more stress than what is put on him over the course of the book would likely break his resolve.
Percy: That’s another thing I have a problem with. The main character, Christopher Boone, feels just too stereotypical if you ask me. He just feels like he as a character was designed around his disability, making him pretty much a walking symbol for autism in the book.
Odin: Really, you think? I think that it was necessary to exaggerate his disability in order to make it noticeable but just enough to not go over the top and create a character the reader can relate to.
Percy: So it seems we agree to disagree.
Odin: Yes, I agree that we agree to disagree.
Percy: OH YEAH?! Well I disagree with your agreement that we disagr-hold up, what were we even talking about?
Odin: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.
Percy: Oh yeah! I hate that book.
Odin: Yeah...well I gotta go now. It’s getting late.
Percy: Ok. Shall we continue our discussion again tomorrow?
Odin: Sure. Same time, same place.
Robi Borda



Fathers point of view from the beginning

It was around twelve a.m. when I heard the screaming. I rolled over on my side and listened closely. I knew it wasn’t my son, Christopher, because it was a woman. It must be our crazy neighbors. They’re always having parties and causing rucks in the neighborhood. Or maybe it was Mrs. Shears. Mr. Shears could’ve come to town to talk to her and they’re having it out in the front yard. It isn’t my problem anymore, and its too late to care. As long as Christopher is safe, they can make all the noise they want. It wasn’t long before I fell asleep.

It couldn't have been asleep for more than an hour before the ringing of my phone woke me. Who could be calling at this hour? It was one o’clock in the morning!

“Hello?” I answered the phone quietly, so I wouldn’t wake Christopher.

“Jonathan Boone?” The voice on the other line asked. “This is officer Bob Jenkins. We have your son, Christopher, here at the station for hitting a police officer. We believe he may have killed your neighbor’s dog.”

I gasped. Christopher could not get blamed for that! It was all my fault, and now Christopher had to get involved.

I hung up the phone and ran to my car. They would understand that Christopher didn’t know any better than to hit the policeman. The difficulty would be how to get Christopher to forget about the dog. This would be quite a process.

I pulled into the station. Yelling at the officers seemed like the best plan. After trying to calm me down, they finally let me see my son. I wanted to hug him so bad, but instead, I spread out my hand like a fan, and touched my fingertips to his.

We had to meet with the inspector before he was allowed to come home with me. They put so much pressure on him, I wasn’t sure if he was going to be okay.

“Did you mean to hit the policeman?” the officer asked.

I prayed he would say no. I prayed he’d answer the questions pleasantly. I prayed they wouldn’t try to call his mother.

“Yes” No Christopher, thats not what you were supposed to say.

The officer squeezed his face, took a deep breath and asked a different question, “But you didn’t mean to hurt the policeman?”

“No. I didn’t mean to hurt the policeman. I just wanted him to stop touching me.” Thank God. I he answered a question correctly. They have to let him go home now.

The officer asked him a few more questions and gave him a caution before he was free to go. I went with him to collect what was in his pocket. His Swiss Army Knife, a piece of string, a piece of puzzle, some rat food, a paper clip, a key, and £1.47. Sometimes I just don’t understand him.

“I’m sorry” he told me on the way home from the station.

"Its OK” I knew this wasn’t his fault. It was all mine.

“I didn’t kill the dog” Its almost like he knew. Almost like he wanted me to feel bad about killing the dog. But he couldn’t know. He wouldn’t have lied to the policeman. I know he can’t lie. I can never tell him that it was me. Just another thing I have to lie to my innocent son about.

Megan Smith



The dog Father got me (Sandy is his name) was one of the best presents I have ever gotten. Even though I still don’t trust Father because he killed Wellington, I think Sandy will be okay because I will come to walk him and play with him. I took the maths A Level, and I got an A grade. It didn’t make me feel as happy as I thought it would because I hadn’t decided if I wanted to take the further maths A Level yet, and I had to decide.
When Mother became sick I had to stay and take care of her. I had never had to do this before so I was scared that I would have to touch her, and I don’t like touching people. Mother said I had to be strong for her and I was. I couldn’t see Sandy for a week When Mother was sick, and this made me sad. Soibhan told me that it was good to be sad because that meant that I loved the dog, and she said that once Mother felt better I would be able to see him again.
Before I took my A Levels, I had my life planned out and I knew exactly what I wanted to do. I wanted to take the further math A Levels and then the physics A level. And after that I wanted to be an astronaut. Now I don’t know what to do because I was confused. I had this feeling inside me that what Siobhan said was love, and she told me that this feeling sometimes made people change what the want. I love Mother, and I love Sandy. I don’t love Father because of what he did to Wellington, and he hurt me. Even though I don’t know what I want to do now, that’s okay because I know two things. I know that I solved the Who Killed Wellington? mystery, and I wrote a book about it. Siobhan says that because of these two things, she knows I can do anything I want. I believe her.

Hannah Moffatt

A Mother’s Point of View
(Reaction to Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time)
Christopher is my son. For you to know my story, you must first know his. Christopher is a hard worker. He struggles in many subjects, but he’s shown more perseverance and determination than I will in my lifetime. Christopher’s strength is in mathematics. For years he has pushed himself in the subject with the hope of taking an A level math course during his high school career. If anyone can meet a goal like that, Christopher can. He tends to be very stubborn at times. If a seed gets planted in his mind, he works diligently to make that dream grow. Christopher has learned to play by the rules. He will listen to directions carefully and try his best to respect the guidelines laid out before him. Unfortunately, he has grasped the concept of reading between the lines. In other words, Christopher often takes our rules too literally, finding clever ways to beat the system. For example, if we are to tell him not to ‘get involved with anyone’s business’, he will discover a way of being nosey without literally ‘getting into someone’s business’. My son is a strong young man. He is an independent, unique individual. I love him with all my heart.
I know I’ve made mistakes as Christopher’s mother, but there is one decision I made that I will never know whether it was right or wrong. Leaving behind my family was the most heart breaking move I’ve ever made. How was I supposed to make that decision on my own? How was I to know what would happen and where it would take me?
While there is nothing I would ever want to change about my son, people need to understand how difficult my life had become. I wish God had given me more patience, I sincerely do. Christopher’s father had always been the level-headed one in our family. I don’t know what it was about our dynamic, but I could never seem to match his level of calmness. Whenever anyone is expecting a child, they never seem to think about the possibilities that are less than perfect. Nobody plans on having a child with autism, a child with downs syndrome, or a child with any disorder for that matter. We plan to have a vibrant, healthy, new baby. One to love and adore for always. Christopher is my baby boy. There is nothing he can do or say to make me love him any less than I do. Christopher is a vibrant, healthy, young boy. A young boy, however, with autism.
Other parents judge me. They question my temper and my lack of patience with Christopher. I could see in their expressions that they thought I was failing as his mother, that I didn’t know what was best for my own child. If I could approach any of these people today, my question to them would be this: What would you do if you were me? What would you do if your child had autism? How would your life be different if you were in my shoes? It can be easy to judge someone without first knowing the truth behind their actions. If Christopher has taught me anything, it is that life is full of surprises. You never get what you expect. You just need to learn how to pull through.
I remember one fall night when Christopher had come home from school with a lot of homework. It was late by the time he had even begun his work. I sat down to help him with his math because Ed was late coming home from work, yet again. Christopher’s personality rarely ever meshed well with mine, especially when it came to schoolwork. He had determination. I did not. We were working on a particular problem that seemed to challenge him more than usual. Christopher had the tendency to feel inferior and distraught whenever he faced a challenge he didn’t have to tools to overcome. His frustration quickly escalated. We bickered back and forth while I attempted to help him work through a problem. Between his disappointment and my lack of empathy, the tension began to rise. By the time Christopher’s father arrived home, all of our tempers exploded into one. Christopher turned to his father, as usual, for a calming hand to hold. I, on the other hand, felt portrayed as the villain despite the fact that I was only trying to help. When Ed saw me struggle with Christopher on nights like that, he blamed me for being weaker than I should have been. I was the adult and I should have taken charge of the situation. How was I supposed to do that when my son had such a mind of his own? How was I supposed to be something that I knew I wasn’t? I left the house that night in a rage. It was the first night I was unfaithful to my husband.
As I said before, Christopher’s father was the patient parent between the two of us. He knew how to keep his cool in tough situations, but most of all he just understood our son a bit better than I did. I knew our marriage was going downhill long before I made it apparent to my husband. After a long hard day of work, both at the office and at home, the thing I needed most was to feel loved and adored by Ed. However, when I came home at the end of the day, that was the last thing I ever felt from him. This is the point when my life began to unravel.

- Catie O'Toole



A: an alternate ending by Sophia Siddell

233. I was trying to resolve a puzzle in the living room, but mother was arguing with Mr. Shears. They were very loud, so I went to my room and I started listing all the capitals of the world starting from South America. This took me 9673 seconds, and it helped me fill my head so that I couldn't feel any other sort of hurt, like the hurt in my chest. I was interrupted when mother came in the room. She had a big mark on her left eye, it looked like she had just stop crying. She looked at me and said “You know Christopher that I love you, right?”, and I, with no hesitation answered “of course!”. She then continued: “Well I talked with Mr. Shears and we decided that the best thing for you right now is to stay with your father, at least until Mr. Shears and I can figure things out and decide whether or not it is a good idea for you to stay here. London is a very big city, with a lot of noise and a lot of people, you don't like to be in a place where it is too crowded, correct?” I said “No but...” “no buts!” She said, “We have decided, first thing tomorrow morning, I'm taking you to the train station and putting you on the first train that goes home”. I then started screaming as loud as I could, the entire neighborhood heard me, some people started shouting from their windows to keep quiet, but I didn't care. She tried to shut me up but she couldn't, so she just left the room. After a couple of hours I stopped screaming and crying, I was exhausted. I then went to bed, but I couldn't fall a sleep, so I kept thinking of all the possibilities and I started listing them with prime numbers:
2. accept the fact that I had to go home
3. ask mother if I could stay a couple of days longer, and meanwhile, try to make her change her mind
5. remind mother that dad is not a safe person, in fact he's the one who was guilty of killing Wellington
7. run away during the night

After analyzing all the different options, I decided to choose the last one. I had no intention of going back home. If I tried to change her mind and failed I would have wasted my time.
Father was anything but a good person, he had hidden mother's letters, and killed Wellington!
So I think the last option was the only reasonable one.
I started packing around 1:00 AM. I was really tired, but I had to do it. Mother had just bought me new clothes, so in a bag I put in a pair of pants, two shirts, one with white and red stars, and a brown one that had a writing on the bottom left which said “Nike”. I grabbed some money, just to be safe, a few cans of beans, a juice and in the left pocket of my jacket I put Toby who was sleeping at the moment.
I gently unlocked the door, slid down the hall, opened the front door, and went down the steps. I was scared for I had no idea where I was going and it was pitch dark.
I sat on the last step of the stairs for 3698 seconds, I stood up, but then I sat down again.
I started looking at the cars passing but I couldn't distinguish the colors because it was too dark, and that wasn't a good thing because I couldn't tell if it was going to be a good or a bad day.
At 4:17, I decided to head to the subway. I remembered exactly what to do and where to go, so I had no problem finding either the subway or the train station.
Once I arrived at the train station I wasn't scared anymore. I took the first train that went home and I got there at 6:33.
Probably right now you are asking yourself, why in the world would I go to Swindon after running away from my mother? Well, I didn't say that I went to my father's house, in fact, I stopped at the Police Department. At first they looked kind of perplexed, and then, after asking me my name they remembered that I was the kid who had hit the police officer. They asked me what the hell I was doing there and I calmly answered: “I'm here to report the murder of a dog, his name was Wellington”. They all started laughing but I didn't. I was as serious as a rock. I then added “the one who killed the dog is my father and he is now at home”. One of the police officers grabbed me by the arm and I instinctively hit him in the face.
They put me in a cell and after I while I heard my father calling my name. I looked trough the bars and he was there, crying, yelling “I'm sorry Christopher, I'm sorry I really am!!”. Behind him was Mrs. Shears. I had been doing math exercises in my head, to keep me calm and because in the next couple of days I was going to have a math A level test. My father came in after a police man unlocked the door and hugged me so tightly that I could't breathe. The first thing he said to me was “I confessed Christopher, I did” and the second thing he said was “I'm sorry for what happened but I was mad and sad, I shouldn't have done what I did and for that I'm really sorry. Mrs. Shears decided to drop her complaint so I won't have to go to jail. I know it's going to be very hard for you to trust me, but please try.” At that point I couldn't feel anything, my head didn't hurt and neither did my chest. I was sad because mother rejected me and because of what father did, but at the same time I felt safe because he was there, and he always has been, and because confessed.
I decided to accept his apologies and once we got home, I fell soundly asleep in my bed.
The next morning, mother called, I listened as father screamed on the phone. When he hung up, he told me that mother was very sad about everything that had happened, and that it was better if I stayed with him.
Things that happened since then:

  • I decided to stay with dad, after all he is a good man
  • A few days later I took my A level math test and I got an A.
  • Toby died (he was very old) but father bought me a new mouse, his name is Toby II.
  • Mrs. Shears got a new dog, and she lets me play with him whenever I want to.
  • I never heard anymore from my mother and I don't really care.
  • I'll soon go to MIT which is in the US.

This is how I felt at the beginning of the book.

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And this is how I feel now.
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-Sophia Siddall

Phil is studying in the Library during study hall while he best friend Silace comes and sits next to him while reading The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time.
Phil: How ya doin Si? How's that book your reading?
Silace: Pretty bad, I have to read it for some project. It's not interesting enough.
P: What book is it? It cant possibly be that bad..
S: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time. Have you read it before?
P: Have I?! I love that book! How could you hate that book? The story is epic! It's filled with mysteries and just the concept it brilliant!
S: Are you kidding me? This book it terrible. I hate how he has autism. It makes no sense! How he just knows all this stuff. It's just weird.
P: Thats the best part of the novel! It adds so much character to him, how he gets through everything, it also gives you another look on life. You get to look at how he gets through things that would be awful to any person at all.
S: Thats a good point but I still don't like how this autistic boy is suppose to narrate a whole story? I mean don't get me wrong its pretty cool, but it just doesn't work for me. I also didn't like how every possible bad thing that could happen happened.
P: That just added to the intensity of the book. I just loved most how there were two different mysteries going on. How it all starts with the dog, just everything just makes the story that much better.
S: I felt bad for the poor kid. This just wasn't a book that called my name.
P: Look at the details, He went through so much to figure out his mother was alive, AND who killed the dog. The kid's thorough, you gotta give him that.
S: That was so typical though. I mean common it had to be someone relative to him. I could see that coming a mile away.
P: How about you read that book again then tell me how you really feel..
S: There is no way I am reading that book again. End. Of. Story.

-Nik Pelletier


Mrs. Shears was a nice woman. She fed and walked me and played and kept me warm. She let me live in her home and she even had a door in the back that I could use to come and go as I pleased. It was just before midnight, probably around 11:50 pm when I decided to take a stroll around the yard while everyone else was asleep. Everything smelled normal, but something seemed to be off. I walked around the side of the house to the front lawn. I smelled someone on the lawn, someone familiar and kind. I walked happily over to this person, a man who often came over, and greeted him. He seemed different. He was angry. It was now about midnight. The man paid barely any attention to me, so I walked away politely, about to go back inside of the house for the night.
Out of nowhere, I felt a sharp pain in my side. I let out a loud bark and looked over to see what had happened. A fork was in my side, the kind people use to tend to their gardens. I caught a glimpse of the man as he fled the scene. I laid down to help the pain even out, but it did not work as I planned. My mind was in a rush. Why would someone hurt me this way? I haven’t done anything wrong, have I? I tried to think of everything I’ve done in the past couple of days, but nothing wrong came to mind. I was utterly confused.
I laid in the grass for a matter of minutes, letting out weak barks of help, hoping someone would hear them. I smelled someone near, a younger person then the person who had hurt me. I barked again, and the person, a neighbor named Christopher, came up to me. He held me in his arms and petted me as I got weaker. I closed my eyes and thought of everything. I hope they find the person who hurt me. I wish humans could understand me so I could tell them what had just happened.
It was about 7 minutes pass midnight, 12:07 am, and faded sirens filled the neighborhood. They got closer and were turned off. A door opens and a strong smell of clean uniform approaches Christopher and me.

-Julia Richardson

Leah Bevins
Mrs. O’Neill
AP English: 4W
11 September 2011
5 Years Later
(Reaction to Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time)
Today I got up at 6:45am like I do every morning. I made myself a tomato sandwich on some white bread. And I looked out the picture window of my flat in a suburb of London and counted three red cars which made it a Quite Good Day. I finished my tomato sandwich and washed my plate in the sink. Then I gave my dog Sandy one and a half scoops of dog food and took her outside to the garden. She did her business and then Mrs. Hamilton my neighbor came outside of her flat across the alleyway to get her morning newspaper.
She said “Good morning, Christopher.”
“Good morning, Mrs. Hamilton”, I said.
“How are you today?”, she opened the door to her mailbox.
“I’m good”, I said, because thats what you say when you’re doing chatting with people. “So is Sandy”, I added.
“That’s good Christopher. Well I hope you have a good day”, she said as she closed her mailbox.
“You too”, I said and I took Sandy inside.
Mrs. Hamilton has lived in the same flat for 20 years because she had to sell her big house in another town when her son and daughter went to University. But not London because it’s too big of a city and it is loud and there aren’t very many red cars on the busy streets. After I said goodbye to Mrs. Hamilton I took Sandy inside. Mrs. Hamilton used to tell me that I reminded her of her son when he was my age: “You know who you remind me of, Christopher? My son Eric.” Which I didn’t understand how I could remind her of her son because all people are different. Sandy went and curled up on her bed and I got ready to leave the flat. Today I was going to visit father to talk to him about “my future”. I don’t know exactly what that means but I think he maybe means that he wants me to get a job and support myself. I got to the train which I now am now scared of because I know it’s just making all those squeaking noises because of friction, and friction is just math and I like math. Father still lives in the house on Randolph Street - number 36. I walked to the front door and let myself in with my key. I knew that father was home because his van was in the driveway. He was in the kitchen making his breakfast and said, “Hello, Christopher” when he heard me in a nice way and I felt more comfortable. Mother says I have to trust him now - that he is a different person and loves me and wants to take care of me and provide the best for me.
Father used to hit me, and I have now learned that that is wrong and bad. Father went to see someone to help him treat me better and now I like him a lot better and he doesn’t get mad so much anymore. At the house on Randolph Street, Father and I talked about my education. I want to get into University and be an engineer and Father says he’s proud of me. I also know that University costs a lot of money, and Father and Mother can’t pay for it all by themselves. So Father wants me to get a job. This scares me because I am not good with other people and taking orders. But Father says that not all jobs are what I think they are. In the end we decided that I should make money by starting a yard work business. It will be called “Christopher’s Yard Care”. I like this idea because then I can just do whatever I want and not have to take orders from other people. I would rather not work but I know that Mother and Father really need my help to pay for University and if I don’t work there will be no money for me to go to University and I really want to go there to become an engineer.
I am done with my book now. So I am keeping a journal because Siaoban said that I should always write my thoughts down because that would help me if I ever got really angry. So I will keep writing in this journal about my new job and about going to University next year.