Christopher finds humans are difficult to understand. To what extent does The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time depict human communication as problematic?
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Autism, language and communication
Although the word is not mentioned in the novel, Christopher does suffer from Asperger's syndrome, which is an autistic spectrum disorder. This means that Christopher expresses himself in a simple and straightforward way and cannot understand commonly accepted modes of signaling. For instance, he says 'I find people confusing. This is for two main reasons. The first main reason is that people do a lot of talking without using any words...The second main reason is that people often talk using metaphors.' Christopher does not accept the typical 'signals' that people use to communicate, for instance 'raising an eyebrow' which Siobhan explains to him 'can mean 'I want to do sex with you' and it can also mean 'I think that what you just said was very stupid.'
The fact that Christopher has a form of autism allows Haddon to take away the baggage that language has adopted over the years and to strip it bare once again to a pure form; we have to interact directly with the words that are spoken and not with the implications of these words according to the society we live in. In this way, Christopher's account allows us to see the world in a new and fresh light without taking anything for granted. He says himself 'My name...means carrying Christ...Mother used to say that it meant Christopher was a nice name because it was a story about being kind and helpful, but I do not want my name to mean a story about being kind and helpful. I want my name to mean me.' Christopher's father fans out his fingers and touches Christopher 'and it means that he loves me' .
Christopher does not like to be hugged. He does not understand what different facial expressions are. He needs to relate directly and individually to language; through his writing, language is reborn in less encumbered way. Most of us would understand what 'I laughed my socks off' meant but few of us would know where the expression originated, and so we have lost the impact of the metaphor because we don't know why it is used in this way. Christopher forces us to reassess our relationship with language so that it speaks directly to us and so that the only tool we use to communicate is a direct reflection of what we think and feel, not a borrowed or inherited means of expression.