And Then There Were None

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Plot

Eight people each received different letters tailored to them, but with one thing in common. Two more people already worked on the island, but were none the wiser to the plotting taking place. Each letter was designed to draw the receiver to accept an invitation to a private island for a summer vacation, all expenses paid. None of the ten had met each other previously, other than the married couple. Each of the letters was signed U.N. Owen, although to each person the initials stood for different names. Once arriving on the island, they made their way to the house, slowly sizing up the other individuals and trying to get acquainted with each other.


As soon as they step foot in the house, things started to go array. It wasn’t that the house was creepy, in fact it was as elegant as they come, but perhaps that made it all the worse. Each guest was shown to the bedroom by the only couple on staff and as they settled in, each has time to reflect on their opinions of each person. Not too long after, they were all called down to dinner. Slowly, over the meal, they all began to open up to each other and enjoy each other's presence. After dinner, whilst relaxing on the porch and watching as the waves crashed down on the shore, their ears were met with a screeching accusatory voice, rather than the music they expected to hear from the gramophone. Everyone was too startled and, frankly, a little curious, to turn it off. As it played, it rattled of each of the house’s current occupants along with a claim of murder.


Most of the accused quickly began to defend themselves, explaining that they never murdered anyone, but nevertheless, they were all startled enough to decide to take off from the island first thing in the morning. Little did they know, the boat would never come. In fact, before they went to bed, one of them would die. The youngest, most invincible, one of them, tragically died of asphyxiation. After the Doctor's examination, it was concluded to be poison and immediately the started to search for anyone else on the island with them, but the search turned up empty. They would only suspect each other. Over the course of the next two days, the body count dropped, the accusation flew about, and after each death, another little indian boy disappeared.

Setting

It takes place on a mostly deserted island in the 70s. There’s a large, majestic house located on the island, but the rest is relatively flat, leaving no place to hide. It’s a distinctly sinister house, which perhaps is what tends to alarm the guests more than anything.

Analysis of Mood

  1. Rogers said hoarsely: “A lie—a wicked lie… we never did—neither of us…” This quote shows how they all reacted when they were accused. Nobody wanted to own up to killing someone, but they didn’t exactly have a strong way to defend it. They were left sputtering.

  2. Rogers said: “I beg your pardon sir, but there’s no boat on the island.” This was the point where they all began to realised they were in serious trouble. They were really counting on the boat to save them, but it became apparent they would have to fight for themselves. They were left stranded on an island and they were slowly being killed off.

  3. “There was no one on the island but their eight selves.” This phrase really emphasizes how alone they were and makes it all the more terrifying. They were completely cut off from the outside world and one of them was a killer. As the number of people went down, the more nerve wracking it became because they had no idea who might kill them at any moment.

Elements of Mystery

  1. One of the Mystery Novel rules was to have a detective, but not just a detective, a detective who actually went and found clues and actively tried to solve the mystery at hand. I think Christie partially followed this rule and partially didn’t, but the way she strayed from it actually helped the plot of the mystery. It made it so much more dramatic to watch each of the characters/ detectives try and fail to solve the mystery. There were actually several detectives in the novel, rather than just one, and neither the ones on the island or the professionals faced with the case after everyone had died could figure it out. They had the clues found on the island, but since they didn’t know how it all exactly happened, they couldn’t solve it. And no one on the island stayed alive long enough to solve it.

  2. Another Mystery Novel rule was to include a corpse, and the deader it was the better. It justified this rule by saying how 300 pages is far too much for a reader to read without receiving reward in form of a corpse. Christie absolutely nailed this rule, seeing as once you were into the novel, it felt like someone died about every chapter. There were so many corpses by the end of the novel that you would need two hands just to count them.

  3. The last Mystery Rule I’ve chosen involves the culprit. It states that there must be a culprit and that this culprit can’t be someone you would expect it to be. It needs to be someone with a good reputation who wouldn’t ever by suspected of a crime like this. Christie nailed this form of irony, as her culprit was one who would typically be giving out the punishments, not receiving them.


Theme

There are several very noticeable themes within the novel, but some of the most prevalent ones surround the ideas of guilt and lies. Each of the characters felt guilty about the crimes they had committed, but yet they were still lying about them. None of them confessed to what they had done and the guilt just kept increasing. It also involved a major battle between good and evil. Each of the people on the island had undoubtedly done bad things, but did that really justify their deaths? Justice Wargrave took his fate into his own hands and murdered them, making he himself guilty of the same crimes he killed them for.

Character Analysis

Part 1:


Justice Lawrence- He comes across as an ethical government employee and one of the only ones with a plan. He tries to approach the mystery in an orderly way and takes control of the chaos. In reality, he has a reason to be the only calm one, although no one suspects a thing.

Vera Claythorne- For the one who ends up lasting the longest in the twisted game, you would think she had more of a strategy or level-head. The longer she stayed alive, the more crazy, or guilt-ridden, she got. She was haunted by the mistakes she had made, which made it so much more easy for her to succumb to Wargrave’s taunting.

Dr. William Armstrong- At first he was very well-respected on the island, and back on the shore as well. He was a good doctor with an outstanding reputation, until you dug up enough information. Each of the guests trusted him wholeheartedly, until they came to the realisation that he’s the only one who has such easy access to poisons.

Anthony Marston- The least guilt-ridden about his crimes and the one who felt he was invincible meant he was the first to die in the murder spree. We didn’t get much of a chance to get to know him, but he seemed like kind of an awful person. He didn’t realise his own mortality and even after taking the lives of two others, he felt no remorse.

Mr. Rogers- Him and his wife started out as the perfect students, putting forth their best effort to serve the guests, even when their own lives were in danger. Although, his reaction to his wife dying was less than you would expect. You would think someone would be a bit torn up finding out their wife never woke up, but he simply left her in the bed and continued with his duties.


Part 2:


Justice Lawrence Wargrave was a highly respected member of society and seemingly innocent of any blame. He appears to want to uphold the law to the fullest, but no one knows what’s going on behind his facade. In his mind, he’s had this secret desire for murder since he was younger. He’s smart enough to know he can’t pull off an unwarranted murder, so he plots for years to find the perfect scheme. He has a hatred for crimes that slide away unjustified and plans to take them into his own hands. “It was my ambition to invent a murder mystery that no one could solve. But no artist, I now realize, can be satisfied with art alone. There is a natural craving for recognition which cannot be gainsaid.” The letter at the end of the book gives us insight into his head and shows us his plea for attention. He couldn’t just let is murder spree go on unnoticed, since to him it was a work of art. He wanted recognition but wanted it to all be on his own time. It’s a very ironic situation because technically, Wargrave’s job is to deliver sentences to those who are on trial, which could mean sentencing to death, but it’s never someone’s job to murder someone. Wargrave took these cases into his own hands, even though they weren’t meant for him. He sought after these lost cases and brought justice to situations that could never be proven.


I thought that Vera Claythorne was a very interesting character. Even though she lasted the longest in the cruel game they were a part of, it wasn’t necessarily because of her skill or ability. Wargrave had the game planned out so that the people would die in accordance to how guilty they felt about their crimes. He had to really get to know all of the characters in order to complete his game. Vera seemed to be the only one who made the connection between the poem hanging up in her door and the killings that were taking place. The rest of them thought it was just a cute poem, but it helped Vera realise that these weren’t just random murders. Vera is a particularly interesting character because throughout the novel she was so determined to live until the end. She was determined to get back off the island and she came so close. She managed to stay alive until she thought she was the last one left on the island. She even brought herself to shoot Philip, but afterwards, was overcome with guilt from her previous murder. Wargrave’s goal was only too easy to accomplish. He set the trap in her bedroom, but it was really her who ended up taking her own life. She seemed to want so desperately to live, but it took very little convincing for her to take her own life.

Foreshadowing


  1. "Watch and pray. The day of judgment is at hand." Mr. Blore thought to himself: He's nearer the day of judgment than I am! But there, as it happens, he was wrong..." This happens in chapter one. It foreshadows the fact that Blore is closer to the day of judgement than he thinks. He plans to live much longer than the next couple days, but little does he know, he won’t make it off the island.

  2. "But there was no house visible, only the boldly silhouetted rock with its faint resemblance to a giant head. There was something sinister about it. She shivered faintly." In chapter 2, we see Vera’s first impression of the house and Christie describes it in a way that gives her the chills, showing all is not right with the island.

  3. "It was a fantastic moment. In it, Anthony Marston seemed to be something more than mortal. Afterwards more than one of those present remembered that moment.” Later on in chapter 2, this quote shows how the other guests thought of Anthony as more than mortal, but obviously something happens later on proving he’s just as mortal as everyone else.

  4. "Can't land on Soldier Island when there is a southeasterly. Sometimes 'tis cut off for a week or more." In the first chapter, when they were being taken onto the island, the man made this comment. This foreshadows the fact that they’ll be stuck there due to bad weather, although no one seemed to think anything of it when he said it.

  5. Lombard said: "Yes, little china Indian figures... There were certainly ten last night at dinner. And now there are eight, you say?" Dr. Armstrong recited: "Ten little Indian boys going out to dine; One went and choked himself and then there were nine. Nine little Indian boys sat up very late; One overslept himself and then there were eight." (chapter 7) Once they connected the poem with the deaths, they had an idea of how they would die and how the victims were being chosen. The poem was a big piece of foreshadowing, since the connection made it obvious what would come next in the book.

Personal Opinion

I enjoyed a lot of aspects of the novel. I liked that there wasn’t actually one specific detective solving the crime because it let it be more like I was in the situation with them. I didn’t have any extra hints as to who was the killer, so any risky situation gave me the same nerves it gave them. I liked the diversity of the characters and how there weren’t really any characters that were very similar. Some were less developed so you didn’t really get to know them, but they didn’t end up being that pertinent to the plot. I also liked the ending of the whole novel and how it summed everything up in a tasteful way. It ended with the letter from Wargrave explaining his motives and how exactly he managed to do it all. It made the situation much more realistic.


There were only a few minor things I didn’t like about the novel, like how there were so many characters. The characters added to the plot and I think there needed to be that many, but they were underdeveloped which made it hard to keep track of them. This novel which made a phenomenal movie for many reasons. A movie would show faces and you would be able to connect them to the characters which would get rid of the underdeveloped characters issue. I also think the setting would make a great set to a movie, as well as the plot being original so it would be something new for the film world.