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Character Analysis of Ed and Judy Boone The Curious Incident of The Dog In The Night Time

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The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
A Characterisation of Ed and Judy Boone

Study Skills
Wintersemester 2007/2008

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time
A Characterisation of Ed and Judy Boone

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is a murder mystery novel written by Mark Haddon, first published in 2003 in Great Britain. Its main character is a fifteen year old boy called Christopher, who has got the Asperger’s Syndrome. When Christopher finds a neighbour’s dog called Wellington killed, he wants to solve the murder. While trying this he gets to know terrifying facts about his father and his mother, who is presumed dead by him.
In the following you can find two characterisations of the main character’s parents, Ed and Judy Boone. “They both weren’t prepared to take this son. Now they don’t know how to cope.” (www.powells.com/authors/haddon.html). After reading these interpretations of the characterisations, you might feel for or against the parents or you just might understand their way of acting.

Ed Boone
Ed Boone is Christopher’s father. He lives together with his son in Swindon. He is a heating engineer. Maybe he suffers from a disease like diabetes or adiposity as “he has to carry a little packet of artificial sweetening tablets around with him to put in his coffee to stop him getting fat” (p. 56). There is no information given on his outward appearance. In contrast to Christopher, who always sticks to the rules, Ed sometimes doesn’t: “Father often drives at over 30 mph in a 30 mph zone and sometimes he drives when he has been drinking and often he doesn’t wear his seatbelt.” (p. 38). But he also likes things that are in order: “He always puts his trousers on before he puts his socks on.” (p. 31).
Ed cares about his son. That’s why he wants to protect him from the truth. After his wife Judy had left him, since she couldn’t take the problems with Christopher anymore, Ed is the one who lies to him. He pretends that Christopher’s mother was in hospital and that she died by reason of a heart attack. In fact she is alive and moved to London with her new partner Mr. Shears. While Judy has got a relationship with Mr. Shears, Ed has got an affair with his wife, Mrs. Shears, whose dog has been killed. However no one really tells Christopher about this affair. Ed just indicates it by saying “she needed company and didn’t want to be on her own.” (p. 54). He also thinks that they have a serious relationship and they might move into a house together. Nevertheless he is wrong because Mrs. Shears has always cared more about her dog than about him. And this makes Ed feel so angry that his only solution is killing the dog (see p. 150f.).
Precisely because of all the lies and secrets which he tries to hide from his son he doesn’t want him to ask too many questions especially about Wellington’s murder. “You are to stop this ridiculous bloody detective game right now.” (p. 64). He is very afraid of Christopher getting to know that he is the dog’s murderer. Obviously he doesn’t want to lose his only child. Furthermore it can be mentioned that Ed appears to be unhappy about the whole situation: being alone with the child, being left by his wife, splitting up with Mrs Shears. So he is overstrained. There is situation when he sits on the sofa drinking whisky after he discovered his son doing this detective game. “There were tears coming out of his eyes.” (p. 27). It reveals that he is quite emotional but most of the time hides his feelings, which makes him a round character. Due to all these lies Ed sometimes dreams of escaping the problems and “getting out of Swindon” (cf. p. 58). Another character trait is being hot-tempered. It’s not impossible that he hits Christopher when he loses his rag, although he always feels sorry about in the end. Parents though shouldn’t hit their children – especially not when they’re mentally handicapped. However it’s important to mention that he has never hit Christopher before his wife had left; he actually was calm. Christopher himself describes him as a “level-headed person” (p. 103). It indicates his desperation and his excessive demands. Even though on the one hand he sometimes appears aggressive in his behaviour, he can also be patient in his language on the other hand. “And your father is really patient.” (p. 134 f.). You can still find lots of swearwords in his way of speaking and he even insults Christopher. “How the fuck[…]. Is your fucking fancy man here, as well?” (p. 254), “You little shit” (p. 102).
If you take a look at Ed’s and Christopher’s relationship it’s quite evident that Ed really loves his son and cares for him, though he hides the facts mentioned above. He really likes spending time with Christopher: “Father takes me out somewhere.” (p. 45) and “We drove to Twycross Zoo.” (p. 108). For showing his love towards Christopher he doesn’t hug or touch him but they’ve got their ritual fingerspread, which means spreading hands in a fan and then touching each other’s fingers. Christopher knows that “it means he loves [him]” (p. 21). There’s another particular point where Ed emphasises his love towards his son: “I love you very much Christopher. Don’t you ever forget that.” (p.109). He justifies losing his rag by “worrying about Christopher’s well-being” (cf. p. 109). This clarifies again that he wants to protect his son from everything bad. Therefore he also conceals the letters from Christopher’s mother since he is of the opinion that Christopher couldn’t stand it, if he knew why his mother left. So this is just another procedure of protection. Supporting Christopher in his A-levels is a point in which he differs from Judy, his wife. Ed really fights for Christopher’s possibility to take his exams: “he would pay someone £50 to look after Christopher while taking his exams.” (cf. p. 57).
Later, when Christopher finds out about the letters and that his mother is still alive, he is really cross with father. Moreover his anger turns into fear when he figures out that his father was even the person who killed Wellington. So Christopher is afraid of being murdered by his own father because he didn’t shrink back from killing a dog. Although Ed is so sorry about it: “I’m sorry Christopher. I promise you, I never meant for it to turn out like this.” (p. 152), Christopher decides that he couldn’t live together with his father anymore (see p. 160).
To sum it all up Ed is completely overstrained with the whole situation. He makes up all lies to hide the whole truth from his son. It is a mechanism of protection. All these secrets make him appear opaque. His affair with Mrs. Shears has given him strength. But as soon as it is over he gets out of control because he breaks down. Christopher is everything he has got and so he doesn’t want to lose him either. He might be afraid of Christopher moving to London to his mother. I think you can say he’s static because he doesn’t really develop. In addition your view on him depends on what kind of reader you are: “Some people say he’s a good man struggling in difficult conditions; other people say ‘The guy is a psychopath.” (www.powells.com/authors/haddon.html).

Judy Boone
Judy Boone is Christopher’s mother. When Christopher was at the age of 13, she had an affair with Roger Shears. This affair was the product of a complicated family situation, which she couldn’t take anymore. Her final decision to move to London with her new partner entailed leaving Christopher, her one and only son, and her angry husband, who didn’t understand her. She took this step since she was of the opinion that the two of them would be better of without her. Ed is hurt so much that he fakes up Judy’s death to Christopher because he doesn’t want to see her ever again.
Judy Boone is a rather “small person” (p. 24). Christopher describes her as “nice-smelling” (p.24). In her past she used to be a “smoker” (p. 96). However we don’t know if she still smokes at present. “She is a hot-tempered woman, who gets angry quite quickly.” (cf. p. 103). This means that Judy “shouted more often” (p. 103) when she lived with her husband and son in contrast to Ed. Furthermore she sometimes “hit Christopher” (p. 103) although violence didn’t solve any problems with her mentally handicapped son. It points up her helplessness and desperation to the reader. She is totally over-challenged with her whole life. This is the reason for dreaming of a completely different lifestyle. She wonders what would have happened if she had never married Ed. “If I hadn’t married your father I think I’d be living in a little farmhouse.” (p. 98). Actually a mother wouldn’t tell those dreams to her son because he might get the impression of being an unwanted child. It indicates Judy’s longing for a normal life. Although she seems to lose her rag very often she nevertheless knows how to handle her son. When Christopher gets out of control and starts screaming or groaning she always seems to be aware of how to calm him down. There’s one situation mentioned when the whole family was on holiday in Cornwall. Judy disappeared in the sea and Christopher thought that she had been eaten by a shark. “And I screamed and she stood up […] and came over to where I was standing and held up her right hand and spread her fingers out in a fan and said, ‘Come on, Christopher, touch my hand. […] You can do it.’ And after a while I stopped screaming […].” (p. 97).
To Ed Judy appears just as a “selfish” person (p. 137). He forbade her to come back because she didn’t seem to show any interest in how Ed and Christopher would get on with their lives without her. He is the one left behind, who has to tell his son that his mother has gone. And since Ed doesn’t know how to handle this and due to being hurt he tells she was dead. For him it’s a matter of fact that he might never have to see her again by telling this lie. The reader also might feel antipathy for Judy because she doesn’t think of her son’s well-being and just leaves because SHE wants to begin a new life.
If you take a closer look at the letters Judy wrote to Christopher – which had never been given to him – we find lots of hints about how she feels about the new situation and she also describes her intention and reason for leaving, although she is aware that it wasn’t right. So Judy is a rather transparent and flat character in contrast to Ed as we can have a look at her inner feelings. She emphasizes again and again how much she loves Christopher and that she is sorry. “I’m sorry Christopher. But I still love you. I hope you don’t stay angry with me forever.” (p. 122). Furthermore she always underlines “she thinks about him all the time” (cf. p. 122). If you read through all these reasons properly you understand her and maybe your image of Judy Boone changes. Judy describes herself as “no good mother” (p. 133). She tries to convince Christopher that “she couldn’t take it anymore” (p. 134) although Ed tried to tell her to put herself together. He was cross with her because she was so upset and thought of giving up. Their different views caused lots of arguments due to Judy’s impatience. Thus they stopped talking because every time they talked it ended up in struggle. Judy became sad and “lonely” (p. 135). “That was when [she] started spending lots of time with Roger. […] He was the only person [she] could talk to” (p. 135). Obviously she didn’t feel lonely anymore when she was with him. So they fell in love with each other. Roger tried to persuade her to move into a house together. “But Judy couldn’t leave her son” (cf. p. 135). And after another argument with her son and her husband she made the decision, which changed her whole life, although she was unhappy and upset about it. “And it broke my heart, but eventually I decided it would be better for all of us if I went.” (p.137). Knowing that Ed is much more patient than her, Judy left her beloved son with a heavy heart because she thinks she is too impatient and hot-tempered to care for him.
After her decision Ed forbade her to visit or even ring her son because he was so angry. Judy doesn’t understand why. So she tries to stay in touch with Christopher via letters because she certainly still loves him and she wants to know whether or not he’s doing well. Unfortunately Judy isn’t aware of what her husband told Christopher. Apparently he doesn’t write back due to thinking his mother is dead, whereas Judy is of the opinion Christopher is just angry and might need his time.
Summarizing Judy’s behaviour before leaving it’s clear that she was overwhelmed by the situation. As everyone can imagine handling with an autistic child isn’t always easy. It made her depressive, which is shown in crying very often. At last she lost her rag nearly every time there was a problem. Once Judy cooked supper for her son and he didn’t want to eat it and started shouting. So she got crossed and threw the food across the room (see p. 135 f.). This is just a typical situation, which could happen to every mother. Usually you don’t lose control as a mother if you have to face such behaviour of your child. I think Judy doubted her mother-qualities and it justifies her opinion that abandoning husband and child would improve the lifestyle of the whole family, although she never meant to hurt anyone.
If we consider Judy’s attitude towards Christopher after he found her in London, we can say that she is jubilant and wants to hug him (see p. 237). But you realize her still existent impatience at once, for example when Christopher wants to persuade her to do the A-Levels. “Let’s talk about this some other time, OK? […] Christopher, please.” (p. 247). Judy Boone reaches her turning point when she decides for a life with her beloved son and against Mr. Shears. It’s impossible to accommodate the two of them since they don’t get on with each other at all. At the end the love towards her only child outweighs the love towards Roger, although she is aware of all the effort it will take to live alone with Christopher in Swindon. So this makes her dynamic. Having arrived in Swindon it becomes clear how much she cares for him. Christopher is very afraid of his father murdering him. Judy protects him from Ed: “But Mother wouldn’t let anything bad happen to me.” (p. 258). In the final stages Judy is able to get her life under control again. She finds a job at the garden centre, moves into a small flat together with Christopher and the most important fact is that “the doctor gave her pills […] to stop her feeling sad” (p. 262). These pills are probably antidepressants to stop her losing her rag, being more patient and to reclaim her happiness.
All in all Judy Boone is a hot-tempered woman, who obviously has sometimes lost control and even hit her child due to being overstrained by the whole situation. Therefore she decided to leave her family behind as she wasn’t able to live her own life properly. At the end she wants the life with her son because she really loves him and gets arranged with her depressions by taking pills. As a conclusion we can say that leaving changed Judy although it wasn’t probably the right decision. She could probably have gone to a doctor before which might have solved the problems earlier.

Works cited

Primary Literature
1) Haddon, Mark. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. Great
Britain: Vintage, Jonathan Cape, 2004.

Secondary Literature
1) Weich, Dave. The Curiously Irresistible Literary Debut of Mark Haddon. New
York City. 24 June 2003 <http://www.powells.com/authors/haddon.html>.

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