May 02, 2006

Final Term Paper


Truth and Lies and a Psychoanalytic Literary Study Because Haddon uses a character that's hazy and confused view of the
world allows him to consider an uninhabited, impassive world as a heaven. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time challenges the separation between utopia and dystopia. Haddon's dramatic power; shows the strain between the truths, as Christopher relates it, and reality, as the reader perceives it. This in fact forces the reader to re-interpret categories such as "special and "normal", since the book presents a blurred world of normal people through a distorted lens.
Christopher the protagonist, living in a utopia is in an unknown distorted world. His mind is logical yet the world is full of haunting aliens (Apollo Space Missions) that plan to enter his logical mind. Haddon tells us that "He walks up and down the streets at 4a.m pretending he is the only person in the whole world" This is where the utopian society ends.
Christopher is a genius at math, and loves maps, timetables and facts. He does not know what it is to tell a lie, no matter how bad of a situation he is in. He is also incapable of voicing and / or comprehending jokes. Why is it that normal everyday things disturb Christopher , such as the colors yellow and brown? We know the he detests yellow because of custard, bananas, double yellow lines, yellow flowers, sweet corn, and hay fever, and brown because of dirt, gravy, wood, Melissa Brown, and poo. It is the unfamilar setting which causes him to go into an overload of thoughts. Or simply groan and hide his face.
This could possibly be labeled as Hysteria; definition: It is a diagnostic label applied to a state of mind, one of unmanageable fear or emotional excesses. The fear is most often on an imagined problem with that body part (disease is a common complaint). People who are "hysterical" often lose self-control due to the overwhelming fear. (BOOK; Mark S. Micale (1993). "On the "Disappearance" of Hysteria: A Study in the Clinical Deconstruction of a Diagnosis". Isis 84: 496-526.)
The most intricate experience throughout Christopher's journey in finding the killer of the dog is not just finding out WHO killed the dog, but what happened to his mother?
According to Sigmund Freud, that unconscious feeling conflicts over repressed wishes and they have a tendency to manifest themselves in dreams, parapraxes also known as "Freudian slips", and symptoms.(Scharnberg, Max. The non-authentic nature of Freud's observations, Almqvist & Wiksell International, 1993 ISBN 91-554-3122- 4) Christopher, the narrator and protagonist warned us that this "WILL
NOT BE A FUNNY BOOK", (Haddon) but we all know that in fact is funny in parts. We are able to see view points on the irony of life in the eyes of a world seen by a very logical person.
A lot of credit is awarded to the author, Mark Haddon. He could have chosen any character to reveal the events that happened in "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime". Instead he choose the not so ordinary Christopher. We follow him on this emotional rollercoaster, where we get a sense of sympathy, vivid details, and love (that we probably would not have seen otherwise). If we would begin to think like Christopher, we would acknowledge relationships, parents, and life situations.
Christopher likes the idea of a world with no people in it. [Haddon p. 2]; He contemplates the end of the world when the universe collapses. [Haddon p. 10-11]; He dreams of being an astronaut, alone in space. [Haddon p. 50-51]; Christopher reveals to us the dream when,
"A virus has killed all the people who look at one another's faces when they talk; the only survivors are special people like me, who like being on their own and who are as shy and rare as the okapi in the jungle in the Congo." [Haddon p. 198-200]. The Freudian Pretensions say that, "One shall prove that there exists a psychological technique by which dreams may be interpreted and that upon the application of this method every dream will show itself to be a senseful psychological structure which may be introduced into an assignable place in the psychic activities of the waking state."( A paper read at Columbia University, April 19, 1915, at a Joint Meeting of the New York Branch of the American Psychological Association and the New York Academy of Sciences, Section of Anthropology and Psychology. Freud, Sigmund, "Die Traumdeutung;" Three editions, 1900, 1909, 1911; Franz Deutike, Leipzig und Wien.) This quote represents death and the sensation of prejudice. In this
dream Christopher is revealing a feeling of hatred towards "normal" people.
Which displays that he is uncomfortable being surrounded by others who make a mockery, and jeer at people different from them.

Where does everyone look while on an elevator with strange people? That's right they either show a pseudo interest in the carpet on the floor of the elevator, or they take the conceited approach and look at themselves in the reflecting walls. Christopher is reflecting on his own life and what he knows is that he is comfortable in similar surroundings. What do these passages say about his relationship to other human beings? What is striking about the way he describes these scenarios? The evidence speaks for itself.

The exponents of Freudian interpretations today are medical men associated with the practice of so-called "Psychoanalysis;" which means that they are more concerned to apply Freud's ideas for the treatment of nervous ailments than to cultivate pure psychology. An examination of the methods they exemplify in individual practice and in the large literature of the psycho-analytic movement shows sufficient reason, in my view, why the psycho-analytic theory of dreams should still be greeted with skepticism. Psycho-analysts tell us that repugnance for the subject-matter has delayed acceptance of their essentially sexual interpretations. (The Freudian Pretensions, Scientific Method in the Interpretation of Dreams by: Lydiard H. Horton)

Going to London must have been an awfully scary trip. Being on a train is like being cooped up in a house, only you're moving. He also hates strange people, he does not understand visual details, and he certainly will be in an unfamiliar surrounding. If we were autistic we would have the same outlook and feeling about the world around us. As Christopher slips into his Sherlock Holmes mode, (since he likes "The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sherlock Holmes") in recording the investigation of his mother, he realizes the importance of life. As the reader feels trapped inside Christopher's mind, still remaining unemotional, the thoughts and feelings motivate us.

According to neurologist Oliver Sacks, Hans Asperger, the doctor whose name is associated with the kind of autism that Christopher seems to have, notes that some autistic people have
"a sort of intelligence scarcely touched by tradition and culture -
unconventional, unorthodox, strangely pure and original, akin to the intelligence of true creativity" (Book: An Anthropologist on Mars by Oliver Sacks, NY: Vintage Books, 1995, pp. 252-253).

This intelligence is shown in the story when the author goes into detail talking about Christopher's incredible ability to solve mathematical problems. He is remarkably skilled and knowledgeable at math and science. He can tell you all the prime numbers up to 7,057. He is a mathematical savant and likes prime numbers. He thinks that prime numbers are similar to life, they are logical but even if you spent all of your time thinking of how to figure it out, you will never reach a full understanding. A prime number, is a number that is divisible only by two integers-itself and one. As Christopher remarks, "prime numbers are what is left when you have taken all the patterns away" (Haddon 12), which reminds me again of how Christopher wants only people like him to be in the world. The "special people" are the prime numbers, and the "normal people" are the patterns.

It is hard to give a description of a story such as this one without resorting to particular cliches: "I laughed, I cried," etc. Mark Haddon portrayed a protagonist view on utopia by using Christopher's unique outlook on life, without turning him into some weird robot, or generated person. Christopher gave the story great insight and humor as well. The humorous innuendos aren't geared toward him; but at real life situations. The relevancy between real life and Christopher is that we haven't experienced the worlds he has. We are able to see, (because of him) how "prime numbers, and patterns", relationships, and interaction with the world have affected the readers.

"Although the book is character-driven, it also contains a rich plot. It is a murder mystery, a road atlas, a postmodern canvas of modern sensory overload, a coming-of-age journal and lastly a really affecting look at the grainy inconsistency of parental and romantic love and its failures. It is a cross-generational novel, very neatly walking the line between adult literary fiction and young adult." Nani Power; Washington Post Review.


Posted by SarahLodzsun at May 2, 2006 07:26 PM
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