Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies

Neurodiverse Self-Discovery and Social Acceptance in Curious Incident and Marcelo in the Real World

Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies (2018), 12, (3), 321–335.

Abstract

The article compares the identities and coming-of-age experiences of neurodiverse young adult protagonists in two novels, Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and Francisco X. Stork’s Marcelo in the Real World. While Christopher in Curious Incident encourages readers to consider the world from a neurodiverse point of view and see the potential value of neurodiversity for the individual himself, it also portrays his autistic traits as the dominant aspects of his identity, and it is difficult to see how others may accept his difference or recognize him as having value in society. In Marcelo in the Real World, on the other hand, Marcelo is a more fully developed character who makes significant progress toward successfully integrating into mainstream society while also retaining who he is as a neurodiverse individual. Both novels feature neurodiverse characters in ways that can promote understanding of neurological difference; however, neurodiversity as it is represented in the character of Marcelo is more nuanced and demonstrates that neurodiverse individuals can be both valued by and contribute to society whilst not having to change who they are.

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Author details

Orlando, Monica