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Curious Incident: Pages 178 - 221 
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Post Curious Incident: Pages 178 - 221
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (Pages 178 - 221) ::44

Edited by: Chris OConnor  at: 1/26/06 10:10 pm



Thu Jan 26, 2006 10:08 pm
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Post Re: Curious Incident: Pages 178 - 221
I'm gonna skip the next-to-last section for the moment -- mostly because I don't have my copy with me, so I'm not sure about what events that section covers.

If you've finished the book, what do you think of the conclusion? Christopher seems to have gotten just about everything that he wanted, including a grandiose dose of confidence that leads him to believe that he can achieve whatever he wants to in life.

But what struck me as the book went on is how I sort of fell through the cracks of the story Christopher was trying to tell and ended up with a fair measure of concern for his parents. Their lives don't seem particularly better for the changes that have taken place. It's difficult getting around the conclusion that Christopher is so divorced from the interior lives of the people around him that he can't help but be destructively selfish.

I felt a particular measure of pity for the father. Granted, he did some very ignoble things in the novel, but his sense of irreconcilable remorse really resonated with me. He's a guy who will likely be striving for the rest of his life to win forgiveness from a boy who likely doesn't understand what it's like to feel the crushing weight of responsibility he feels.

Given a larger portion of the book, the mother probably would have won an equal share of my sympathy. She's a deeply flawed woman, and it must be incredibly smothering to be know that you're so ill-suited to the card that fate has played you. Her explanation to Christopher in the earlier chapters was the start of my sympathy for her. She seemed to genuinely feel that she's so poorly suited to be his mother that he and his father will be better off without her dragging them down. Then again, it may be hard to reconcile that professed reason with her affair. If she had left on her own, it would be carte blanche understandable -- that she left with another man leaves open some doubt as to whether or not those reasons were foremost in her mind.

But the impression I was left with at the end of the novel is that these people, though still estranged, make up a kind of island. No one else can really see into the feelings of love and personal responsibility that tie Christopher's parents to him. And for that reason, they're more isolated at the close of the story than they probably ever were before.




Sat Feb 11, 2006 6:03 pm
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Post Re: Curious Incident: Pages 178 - 221
It seems to me (I read the book about a year ago, so I may misremember) that, since the book is Christopher's PoV, he is isolated from the consequences of actions, and from the emotions of others. This leads to a portrayal of the parents as both also seeming distant from others. I envisage it like a dark stage, with each one picked out by a separate spotlight.

But this is what we infer from Christopher's narration, and we might also infer that the situation is very different, but he is unaware of the subtlety of tone and gesture which complete communication. Indeed, we might regard some of Christopher's actions as self-fulfilling.

If we were to be having a chat with the author, I think a prime question would be why the mother is so lightly sketched. We sense Christopher's bond to her, but she doesn't seem to come alive from the page the way others, even minor characters do.

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Fri Feb 17, 2006 8:47 pm
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Post Re: Curious Incident: Pages 178 - 221
I am glad that I read MA's post here before making my post. I was going to say pretty much the same thing. I just finished the book and am still feeling sad for the parents. I feel very sad for the parents, especially the father. The scene on p 194 where the mother asks, "Christopher, let me hold your hand. Just for once..." really pulled at my heart strings. Christopher does not allow the hand holding. I am a very tactile person. I could easily imagine how much the mother was torn between her needs for this physical comfort and the needs of her child to not be touched. Then, on p 197, when Christopher can't/won't even hold his hand up to his father in their gesture of love and the father cries, I felt even sadder for him! What a difficult life for all members of this family.




Sat Feb 25, 2006 3:13 pm
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Post Re: Curious Incident: Pages 178 - 221
Quote:
and ended up with a fair measure of concern for his parents. Their lives don't seem particularly better for the changes that have taken place.


Well, no. They don't seem better off. But, would you really expect them to? Do you think that having this happen would make them better people? They are who they are, and things like this are not going to make them forget their failed relationship, etc. The incident does make them deal with the consequences of their actions in a more realistic way, but they are still going to have their flaws. It seems to me that you are sort of looking for a fairy tale ending where they reconcile or get back together for the 'sake of the children'?




Sat Mar 04, 2006 2:30 am
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Post Re: Curious Incident: Pages 178 - 221
Quote:
I could easily imagine how much the mother was torn between her needs for this physical comfort and the needs of her child to not be touched. Then, on p 197, when Christopher can't/won't even hold his hand up to his father in their gesture of love and the father cries, I felt even sadder for him! What a difficult life for all members of this family.


ugh, tara, you have totally hit this on the head. I almost cried. As a new parent, I just couldn't imagine having to relate to my child this way.




Sat Mar 04, 2006 2:33 am
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Post Re: Curious Incident: Pages 178 - 221
Gino- Since you felt the same way I did about that scene, I thought I'd share what happened to me on Friday. An autistic child who is in a self-contained classroom at my school comes to my regular ed classroom as a reward for work completed/good days. I have maintained that he requests my room becuase there is something about the room decor and orderliness that appeals to him, as he mostly walks around my room looking at the things hanging on my walls. Since, I am familiar with autistic children, I am always careful with my interactions with him. On Friday, he came to visit with his teacher and did his typical walking with some screaming of what sounds like my last name. His teacher always tells him to, "Say goodbye Anthony" and he always gazes in my direction and says, "Goodbye Anthony". On Friday, he walked over to me, got about an inch from my face and mimed a hug and kiss! I was so touched. His teacher was ecstatic. I had to tell her not to get too excited as he didn't actually touch me. Still, he came so close! That made my day.




Sun Mar 05, 2006 7:13 pm
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Post Re: Curious Incident: Pages 178 - 221
ginof: It seems to me that you are sort of looking for a fairy tale ending where they reconcile or get back together for the 'sake of the children'?

Geez. No, I'm not looking for a fairy tale ending, and my comment wasn't a criticism of the book. I'm just pointing to the fact that Christopher is able to turn off the negative consequences of the events -- he seems to think that there has been some sort of fairy tale ending, where he has both his parents back and gets to be an astronaut. And I think it's impressing that Haddon played so heavily against the type here. Any happier ending would have robbed his characters of the flaws that make them really engaging as humans.

It also occurs to me that this sort of ending might be somewhat common to stories about people with autism. I'm thinking specifically about "Rainman" here, though I wonder if perhaps there aren't other stories about autism that also play on the disparity between how we perceive consequences and how the autistic characters perveive the consequences.




Tue Mar 07, 2006 3:42 pm
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