Normalcy, Knowledge, and Nature in Mark Haddon's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Sarah Jaquette Ray


This article analyzes Mark Haddon’s 2003 novel, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, using a combination of both disability studies theory and ecocriticism.  The author argues that the novel’s main character, Christopher Boone, presents a social model of disability by challenging dominant society’s treatment of him as “not normal.” Christopher is ostensibly diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, although the novel never explicitly labels him as disabled in any way. Through Christopher’s views of nature, language, knowledge, and social constructions of disability, we learn that disability is an unstable category, and that dominant society can be disabling.  Importantly, though, Christopher’s critique of society is, as the author argues, fundamentally environmental. That is, Christopher’s views of language, knowledge, and even the more-than-human world itself are central to his destabilization of the category of disability. Christopher’s environmental sensibility and critique of society’s disabling qualities emerge primarily through his discussions of language, which he finds suspect because it distances humans from the world it describes.  Thus, the novel suggests that the disabling features of society that Christopher encounters are the same features that distance humans from nature, particularly through language. 


Keywords: eco-phenomenology, ecocriticism, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Asperger’s Syndrome, nature, language, body, epistemology


eco-phenomenology; ecocriticism; The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time; Asperger's Syndrome; nature; language; body; epistemology

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Copyright (c) 2013 Sarah Jaquette Ray

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