And Then There Were None
And Then There Were None, written by Agatha Christie is a thrilling tale of ten people invited to a remote island by an unseen figure who never appears throughout the story. All those who were invited have pasts that they are hiding and many things to fear. The guests are cast upon Indian Island, an island off the coast of England around the 1930s. Strangers to each other, slowly they reveal their shameful pasts. Coincidently, the name which they were invited by, Mr. U. N. Owen sounds similar to that of the word “unknown.” Among the characters is a Mr. Wargrave, a recently retired judge, who is intelligent, cold, and commanding. He takes leadership on the island after the killings begin. Wargrave is the first to insist publicly that they are dealing with a homicidal maniac, and the first to acknowledge that the killer must be part of their group. Vera Claythorne is witty and believes she was hired as a secretary to Mrs. Owen. Philip Lombard, a mysterious man, served as a soldier in Africa and often carries a gun with him. Among the other characters are William Blore, an ex-detective, and Dr. Armstrong who thinks he has been hired to look after the wife of the island’s owner. Emily Brent, General Macarthur, Tony Marston think they have been invited for a visit with old friends. And Then There Were None examines justice, but it bends the manifestation by making the victims of murder, people who committed murder themselves. It expresses the theme of what the burden of one’s own guilty conscience can lead that person to perform.
Upon arriving on the island, they are greeted by Mr. and Mrs. Rodgers who were hired as the butler and housekeeper. That evening after dinner they hear a recorded voice accusing each of them of a specific murder committed in the past and never uncovered. Talking about the accusations, they realize none of them actually have ever met or know “Mr. U.N. Owen.” As they ponder this mysterious matter, Tony Marston chokes on poisoned whiskey and dies. Vera Claythorne observes similarities between the death of Marston and the first verse of a nursery rhyme, “Ten Little Indians,” that hangs in each bedroom. The next morning the guests find that Mrs. Rogers apparently died in her sleep. The guests hope to leave that morning, but the boat that regularly delivers supplies to the island does not show up. After these mysterious deaths, the oldest guest, General Macarthur, thinks he is going to die and goes to look out at the ocean. Before lunch, Dr. Armstrong finds the general dead of a blow to the head. The guests meet together and assume that one of them is the killer, considering they have looked about the island for any one person who might inhabit it. The tiring long day soon sends them to bed.
The next morning they awake to find that Rogers has been killed while chopping wood in preparation for breakfast. At this point, the guests feel certain the murders are being carried out according to the direction of the nursery rhyme. Also, they realize that the dining-room table initially featured ten Indian figures, but with each death one of the figures vanishes. Emily Brent separates herself from the group after feeling queasy after the events of the preceding days. She is soon found dead; her neck was injected with poison. Vera goes to take a bath, is startled by a piece of seaweed, and Blore, Lombard, and Armstrong run to help her while leaving Wargrave alone. Returning downstairs they find Wargrave in a judge’s robe and pronounce him dead by a shot to the forehead.
During the night another figure is removed from the table, Vera, Lombard, and Blore believe they must stay outside in open air to stay alive. Blore returns to the house to get food and is killed by a statue that is pushed out a second-floor window. Vera and Lombard retreat to the shore, where they find Armstrong’s drowned body on the beach. Convinced that Lombard is the killer, Vera steals Lombard’s gun and shoots him. She returns to her bedroom to rest, happy to have survived. But upon finding a noose waiting for her in her room, she feels a strange compulsion to enact the last line of the nursery rhyme, and hangs herself.
The story baffles the police until a manuscript is found telling of Judge Wargrave’s conspiracy plan to punish those whose crimes are not punishable under law. His death permitted him to dispose of the rest of the guests without drawing their suspicion. Once Vera hanged herself on a noose that he prepared for her, Wargrave planned to shoot himself in such a way that his body would fall onto the bed as if it had been laid there. In this way, he hoped the police would find ten dead bodies on an empty island. The mystery and suspense of And Then There Were None is unbelievable and leaves the reader with no characters alive.
In my honest opinion, And Then There Were None is one, if not the, best whodunit stories written. It has been developed into a play, which I have also seen. The play attracted me to the actual book which I fell in love with. The suspense and the cleverness behind the killings gives the book a wonderful plot and ending. The book addresses the idea that only the dead are above suspicion. A baffling mystery, And Then There Were None can be enjoyed by even the most immature of people.
“Ten Little Indians”
Ten little Indian boys went out to dine; One choked his little self and then there were nine.
Nine little Indian boys sat up very late; One overslept himself and then there were eight.
Eight little Indian boys traveling in Devon; One said he’d stay there and then there were seven.
Seven little Indian boys chopping up sticks; One chopped himself in halves and then there were six
Six little Indian boys playing with a hive; A bumblebee stung one and then there were five.
Five little Indian boys going in for law; One got in Chancery and then there were four.
Four little Indian boys going out to sea; A red herring swallowed one and then there were three.
Three little Indian boys walking in the zoo; A big bear hugged one of them and then there were two.
Two little Indian boys sitting in the sun; One got frizzled up and then there was one.
One little Indian boy left all alone; He went and hanged himself… And then there were none