Prompt: Curious Incident/Adaptation Essay
Pick one of the following prompts and write a 1,000+ word critical analysis that explores an aspect of either Haddon’s novel or Kaufman’s screenplay—or both. As always, the key to a successful analytical essay is a strong thesis supported by specific evidence from the text(s):
1) In The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time Haddon’s narrator, Christopher, includes the writing of the book in the book’s story. In other words, there’s a “meta” component to his story. The same can be said of Kaufman’s Adaptation., where—to his horror—Kaufman finds that he’s written himself into his own screenplay. Explore why and how these writers have chosen to make the storytelling process such a major part of their narratives. Your paper can be about both texts, or focus only on one.
2) Both Haddon and Kaufman use certain narrative conventions—or “principles,” as Donald tells Charlie—in their stories (i.e. the “red herring” in Haddon or any of the tropes Charlie mentions in his anti-Hollywood rant). At the same time, they use these conventions self-consciously. Using one or both texts, explain why and how Haddon and/or Kaufman simultaneously subvert and employ various narrative conventions.
3) Explore the concept of “the unreliable narrator” as it relates to Christopher. How does Haddon use Christopher to tell the story? Why does he do it in this particular way? That is, what “desired effect” does Haddon achieve by having Christopher narrate his own story? One way to begin to take a critical perspective might be to ask yourself how the story would be different if narrated from, say, an omniscient POV.
4) In Adaptation., how and why does Kaufman use both “Charlie” and “Donald” to tell his story? What approaches to (screen) writing does each character represent?
5) Haddon’s narrator, Christopher, doesn’t like metaphors because he considers them to be lies (i.e. not the literal truth). Conversely, Kaufman’s central character, Charlie, is hyper-aware of metaphor—he grapples with the notion that a single flower can represent not only human struggles (obsession, passion, the search for meaning in life) but also for life itself (on a cosmic scale!). Compare and contrast how and why each writer addresses the concept of metaphor. Or just focus on metaphor as it’s used in Adaptation.
6) Examine plot structure—the how and why Haddon/Kaufman reveal information the way they do—in either curious incident or Adaptation (or both).
7) Pick two or three “Terms” and explore how and why Haddon uses them to “achieve a desired effect.” For example, you might look at narrative perspective (POV), tone, and plot structure to explain why Haddon’s novel is affecting or moving or compelling or none of the above.
After 24 hours you will need to send me the work you have done. I need to submit the draft after 24 hours.
Attached the Student Essay Model (Don’t copy anything from it)