Where My Love For Writing & Thinking Meet

Mark Haddon: Rhetorically Bold or Inconsiderate?
October 31, 2016, 4:12 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

I enjoyed reading Haddon’s novel.. But definitely not as much as I enjoyed reading the reviews. I personally love reading reviews after I’ve finished a book because this way I’m given the opportunity to shape my own raw and personal judgement on the text before I also get to see what others take away and how/why they feel the way they do towards a text. It’s always interesting to me that so many people always have so many different things they take away from the same book, and Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is no exception to that.

I’d like to start off with Greg Olear’s review titled When Popular Novels Perpetuate Negative Stereotypes: Mark Haddon, Asperger’s and Irresponsible Fiction. Written by a father who has an autistic son that has been diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, I can understand why Olear is so frustrated. However, with that frustration, one must also acknowledge that some sort of biasedness also comes into play. I feel as if Olear dismisses the protagonist being an ‘aspie’ because he thinks that the behavior is too extreme; he feels as if Christopher does not meet the high-functioning standard of those diagnosed with Asperger’s. Therefore, I think he is disappointed and claims the novel because is a gimmick because it portrays those diagnosed with Asperger’s negatively. Though I understand his frustration, I am also a little annoyed with his claim because there may be individuals that are diagnosed Asperger’s and are not as high-functioning as his son or others. So to dismiss or not even take into account that population because of how others may view it is extremely upsetting.

I then went on to read a review from William Schofield who is actually a member of the Asperger’s community. Despite his own personal experience and diagnosis, he as a student writes, A Journey To Shock and Enlighten, which actually appreciates Haddon’s book. Though he says one should not diagnose a fictional character, he compares himself to Christopher and finds a lot of similarities. He is not offended by this text. Instead he is intrigued by it, and I think that’s the beauty of it: to find and appreciate the beauty of a text even if (or especially if) it doesn’t fit one’s schema.

Image result for glasses being taken off gif

I enjoyed hearing your insight but to some extent I disagree. Haddon is not required to get everything right about Asperger’s, but he also should be held accountable for the many things he does wrong. He paints a picture of those with autism spectrum disorder as violent, and with no empathy –things that are representationally false. I share Olear’s concern that this novel perpetuates negative stereotypes about people with Asperger’s. Also, I think its important to note that Haddon did not do anyyyyy real research into Asperger’s before writing his novel, which to me is just irresponsible. I think Olear’s issue with Haddon is that his novel became a book that was said to represent autism spectrum disorder, which can be so harmful to those with the disorder. I also think that noting Haddon clearly appropriated stereotypes about autism spectrum disorder to make his character more appealing aesthetically, but he care little about the negative consequences that that has.

   Krystal Dillon 11.01.16 @ 8:34 pm

I do agree that autism is in fact on a spectrum, and it is wrong for someone to say that for sure, a character is nonrepresentational…because who knows? And really, Haddon has the right to write whatever he wants, as long as it’s entertaining and it sells. As much as we English majors try to just focus on the artistic qualities of a book, books are also products that are created and sold for profit. And another “who knows?” question can be directed at Haddon. Christopher was born in Haddon’s mind, so who are we to say what kind of person Christopher is, because Haddon knows him best, and is only describing to us who this person he “knows” is like. Haddon is Christopher’s vessel, if we want to get deep with it. However, I do feel like Christopher, if we place him in reality (if we even have the right to do that, which I’m not sure about), definitely sticks out and doesn’t belong to the “average” Asperger’s community…but again! How can I say what is “average” Asperger’s? Anyways, what I’m trying to say is that, realistically speaking, Christopher has extremely severe Asperger’s that does not exist yet in our real world. But neither do wizards, and J.K. Rowling made her novels a hit. I’m just rambling here at this point. I’m really not sure how much responsibility we can put on the author. I feel like he should get some, but he’s just a writer. He’s not a neuroscientist or anything, so is that fair? I really don’t know. But thanks for such a thought-provoking post!

   Michelle Coleman 11.02.16 @ 12:19 am


Where My Love For Writing & Thinking Meet

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