The Curious Incidentof the Dog in theNight-TimeModule B Close Study of TextKaren Yager – Knox Grammar School

How a text‟s textual featuresand details, structure and formshape meaningHow a text‟s textual features anddetails, structure and formestablish its distinctive qualitiesHow the ideas, forms and languageof a text may affect the perceptionsof responders

HSC Expectations Better responsesdemonstrated a deepunderstanding of an ideaor related ideas, drawingon detailed textualknowledge. Better responses reflecteda personal perspective. Candidates who clearlyunderstood the purpose oftheir texts were able todemonstrate conceptualunderstanding. Many responses limitedthemselves to thebeginning of the text andconsequently did not showthe development of an ideathroughout the novel.

HSC Expectations Candidates whowere able to selectappropriatetextual evidenceand explain why Strongerresponses usedthemetalanguageappropriate totheir text type.

ConceptualUnderpinnings Craft - Textuality:- How a text‟s textualfeatures anddetails, structureand form shapemeaning.- How a text‟s textualfeatures anddetails, structureand form establishits distinctivequalities.

Distinctive QualitiesOne of the key aspects of Module B is an exploration ofwhat makes a text distinctive – unique, different andmemorable - such as: the genre, setting, theunforgettable narrative voice, key incidents,characterisation and the significant ideas.

ConceptualUnderpinnings„A novel can put you inside anotherperson's head and give you anunderstanding of their life you couldonly get by moving into their housefor six months‟ Mark Haddon. Perceptions: How the ideas,forms and language of a textmay affect the perceptions ofresponders. Perception refersto the interplay of recognitionand interpretation and isinfluenced by ourpreconceived ideas,memories, experiences andsenses.

Perceptions Haddon challenges us to view the world throughthe eyes of someone who has a disability. Walkingin another‟s shoes has the potential to alter ourperceptions of people and life.

Context Haddon's knowledge ofaspergers comes fromhis work with autisticpeople as a young man– „If you're going to writesomething dark andfunny about disability,you have to feelcomfortable with yoursubject.‟ „I am an atheist in a veryreligious mould‟ Excelled in Mathematics

Context„The corner I kept onfighting over Christopher,the main character inCurious, who suffersfrom Asperger‟s, is thathe‟s not ill; he just has aradically different view ofthe world. What I‟minterested in is how thehuman mind works, andwhen we‟re abnormal orgoing wrong people aremuch more fascinating.‟

Distinctive Features „I better make the plot good. Iwanted to make it grip peopleon the first page and have abig turning point in themiddle, as there is, andconstruct the whole thing likea roller coaster ride‟ MarkHaddon. „He just has to say, I enjoySherlock Holmes stories andI'll try to do something similarto that. It was that. That wasthe biggest puzzle for thebook. When I solved that, Ibegan to see how I couldshape the story‟ Haddon. What do you find distinctive?

Structure If you enjoy math and youwrite novels, it's very rarethat you'll get a chance toput your math into a novel. Ileapt at the chance‟ MarkHaddon.Chapters – Prime numbersOne chapter deals with thenarrative and then thefollowing chapter exploresChristopher‟s mindscapeEmoticonsOrthography

Hybridity Differences: Mathematicssavant 15-year old boy as thedetective „His mind. was busy inendeavouring to frame somescheme into which all thesestrange and apparentlydisconnected episodes couldbe fitted.‟ Constants: Puzzle, clues, redherrings, mystery The lack of closure and thereal mystery – Christopher‟sfuture

Hybridity Bildungsroman – journey toexperience "The world is full of obviousthings which nobody by chanceever observes" In conflict with society Focuses on the psychologicaland moral journey of the teenageprotagonist Seeking answers and growing up Subversion: Christopher cannotachieve complete understandingand moral growth

Narrative Voice Christopher’s voice isdistinctive. His detailed yetsimplistic observations ofpeople and places devoid ofemotion enable us to seethrough his eyes. - Siobhan toldhim „the idea of a book was todescribe things using words sothat people could read themand make a picture in their ownhead‟ Telling more than showing –e.g. Conjunctive adverb „Then‟ „Never explains too much‟ –conjunction „and‟ - as if he hasto tell us in a rush;

Narrative Voice His isolation from the rest of world, revealed through hiscomments about his yearning for silence and confinementin a small safe place, challenge our perception of life asbeing about close social connections to friends and family.As most individuals are social beings who enjoy thecompany of others, Christopher‟s strong desire to beutterly alone is confronting and poignant. Suddenly, yourealise what it would be like to have autism: So I would have to be an astronaut on my own, or havemy own part of the spacecraft which no one else couldcome in to And I would be able to look out of a littlewindow in the spacecraft and know that there was no oneelse near me for thousands and thousands of miles (p.65)

Simple,shortsentencescreatingtension. Acrime e mysteryand thedilemma.First personestablishesChristopheras thenarratorObjective descriptions inthe past tense.It was seven minutes after midnight. The dog waslying on the grass in the middle of the lawn in frontof Mrs. Shear‟s house. Its eyes were closed. Itlooked as if it was running on its side, the waydogs run when they think they are chasing a cat ina dream. But the dog was not running or asleep.The dog was dead. There was a garden forksticking out of the dog. The points of the fork musthave gone all the way through the dog and into theground because the fork had not fallen over. Idecided that the dog was probably killed with thefork because I could not see any other wounds inthe dog and I did not think you would stick agarden fork into a dog after it had died for someother reason, like cancer, for example, or a roadaccident. But I could not be certain about this.Blunt toneconveyedthroughobjectivesimplesentences

Language Factual, objectivelanguage: Christopher‟sblunt descriptions and hisfactual digressions reflect hisdisability and his need toescape the complexity of lifeand language. Simple sentences, honestobservations, emoticons(symbols used to conveyemotional content), relayingof dialogue and seeminglyunrelated observations ofthings such as the Milky Way.

Language Similes: Concrete,simple comparisons thatenable him to explore hisfeelings, the world andother people‟s actionsconcretely and visually. Icould see him touchingme, like I was watching afilm of what washappening in the room,but I could hardly feel hishand at all. It was like thewind was blowing againstme.

Language „My book has a very simplesurface, but there are layersof irony and paradox all theway through it‟ Haddon. Bitter sweet humour: „Andmother got the flu and I hadto spend three days withFather and stay in hishouse. But it was OKbecause Sandy slept on mybed so he would bark ifanyone came into the roomduring the night.‟

Language Imagery: moments of poignantlyricism : „we will know that theworld is going to end soonbecause when we look up intothe sky at night there will be nodarkness, just the blazing lightof billions and billions of stars,falling.‟ Emoticons, graphics andorthography: The faces, theillustrations and the graphicaluse of writing to convey hisemotions aptly reflect an autisticchild who finds it difficult andfrustrating to communicate withothers. Pathos: What is left unsaid „And I would be able to look out ofa little window in the spacecraftand know that there was no oneelse near me for thousands andthousands of miles‟.‟

Setting „Every life is narrow. Our onlyescape is not to run away, but tolearn to love the people we are andthe world in which we findourselves.‟ Physical location of Swindon andLondon Swindon on the railway linebetween Bristol and the chaotic cityof London in 1998. The landscapeis dominated by the chalk hills ofthe Wiltshire Downs to the southand east. Christopher‟s favouritedetective Sherlock Holmes atelunch in the town in the short story„The Boscombe Valley Mystery‟.

“AndDistinctive Setting Psychological landscapeof Christopher‟s mind. Heregularly describes hisdissatisfaction withothers and the world helives in: “And in thedream nearly everyoneon earth is dead,because they havecaught a virus Andeventually there is noone left in the worldexcept me ” (p.242)in the dream nearlyeveryone on earth isdead, because they havecaught a virus Andeventually there is noone left in the worldexcept me ”

Ideas„It's about how little separates us from thosewe turn away from in the street. It's abouthow badly we communicate with oneanother. It's about accepting that every lifeis narrow and that our only escape fromthis is not to run away (to another country,another relationship, a slimmer, moreconfident self) but to learn to love thepeople we are and the world in which wefind ourselves‟ Mark Haddon.

Ideas The importance ofhonest opencommunication, trustand acceptance inrelationships. The difficulties ofraising a child with adisability. How being different canisolate you in society.

Ideas The importance oforder and stability inour lives. Adult insincerity,hypocrisy and opacity The complexity ofhuman emotions,motives, actions andrelationships.

Ideas How ordinary people canbe dysfunctional. How people preferignorance overknowledge:- “And it shows thatsomething called Occam‟srazor is true No morethings should bepresumed to exist thanare absolutely necessary.”

Characterisation The textualfeatures thatcraft acharacter Actions,attitudes andvalues Relationships Personalresponse

Christopher A „quiet dignity, thenobility of someoneunable to process theevasive shifts andcontradictory movementsof human interaction inwhat most of us deemthe „real‟ world.‟ Asperger‟s Syndrome:lack innate social skills;no empathy; literal;obsessive about singletopics; heightenedsensitivity

Christopher An unreliable narrator Dispassionate style ofnarration Dreams of being anastronaut, alone inspace and a virus haskilled everyone exceptfor „special people likeme“‟ Unforgiving andresolute

Christopher We are concerned for his future:- His mother is on anti-depressants- The gulf between Christopher and his father is insurmountable:“And mother got the flu and I had to spend three days withFather and stay in his house. But it was OK because Sandyslept on my bed so he would bark if anyone came into theroom during the night.”

Ed Boone We only read Christopher‟sperspective Not easy to feel sympathyfor this character Ed‟s violence, dishonestyand frustration Indicators that Ed is agood man who is trying tobe a loving father Identifies with Chris asbeing different

Judy Boone „Jesus, Christopher, Iam seriouslyconsidering putting youin a home ‟ Judy‟s abandonment ofher child „she was a very hottempered person‟ „But then everythingwas OK and thedoctor gave her pills totake every morning tostop her feeling sad.‟

Key Incidents When referring to the keyincidents, discuss: How this incident conveys acharacter‟s personality,values, relationships withothers and/or attitude to lifeand people. How the incident advances thestory and/or adds to themystery. The idea/s conveyed by theincident. How you personally respondto the incident.

Key Incidents One such incident could be when Christopher first arrives inLondon, and his disability proves to be a major disadvantage.His experiences on the train and in the underground when healmost dies trying to rescue his pet rat Toby are harrowing. This incident advances our understanding of howChristopher‟s disability makes him so vulnerable. It revealsChristopher‟s loyalty and care for animals. Remember that theinitial case that he had to solve was the murder of Wellingtonthe poodle. When you realise how close Christopher came to being killedby the train and consider this along with his reflections on theearth and all of its inhabitants dying, you are confronted withthe fragility of his life and you fear for his future.

Developing aThesis Focus ondeveloping,sustaining andsupporting a thesisor line of argument Developing detailedtables Mind/concept maps Working onintroductions

Developing a Thesis A thesis or line of argument should reflect yourperception and understanding of the novel and itskey ideas. It will be used to shape and direct yourextended response and will be supported and/orchallenged by the textual details and features thatyou use from the novel. You need to include topic sentences in eachparagraph that further your line of argument andare supported by your main points and examples.They are a signal to the marker that yourresponse is cohesive and logical, and that yourline of argument is sustained.

Responding “When we read novelswe encounterinteresting characterswho invite our empathyand understanding.” Select a character fromyour novel, and discusswhy you found thischaracter interesting oruninteresting.

Responding Refer to what you foundinteresting about thecharacter, such as:How the characterresponded to what theyexperiencedThe character‟s personality,attitudes, actions andrelationships with othersKey ideas raised by thecharacterThe language features anddialogue used to representthis character

Final Preparation Compose an essay that focuses on textualintegrity: why this novel is valued. Refer to:- The interesting characters and the settingthat provides a framework- The structure and language features- Important incidents- The ideas!- Your personal response


meaning. - How a text‟s textual features and details, structure and form establish its distinctive qualities. Distinctive Qualities One of the key aspects of Module B is an exploration of what makes a text distinctive – unique, d