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Free Study Guide-And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie-Free Summary
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CHAPTER SUMMARY AND NOTES

CHAPTER SIXTEEN

Summary

After finding Dr. Armstrong’s body, Vera and Lombard stare at each other for a moment, convinced the other is the murderer. Vera suggests they move the doctor’s body away from the water, and Lombard agrees, amused by her pity. Vera uses this opportunity to seize Lombard’s revolver. Alarmed, Lombard tries to convince her to return it to him, but she shoots him dead in the chest.

Vera feels incredibly relieved to be finally safe, and heads back up to the house. As she climbs the stairs to her room, intending to rest, she imagines that Hugo is there waiting for her. But instead of Hugo, she finds a noose hanging from the ceiling and a chair for her to stand on. She remembers the last line of the "Ten Little Indians" nursery rhyme, "He went and hanged himself and then there were none," and drops the last china Indian figure she had brought from downstairs. As the figure falls and breaks, Vera climbs the chair like a robot and adjusts the rope around her neck. She remembers how easy it was to murder Cyril, but realizes that afterwards it is impossible to forget. Still believing Hugo is near her, she kicks the chair away.


Notes

Vera’s suicide highlights the theme of guilt’s effect on people. In her case, the effect is profound, driving her to a psychotic belief that Hugo, her lover and uncle of the child she murdered, is waiting for her in her room and wants her to end her life. She also feels haunted by the dead child, Cyril, connecting the hook from which the rope hangs to the previous incident of hanging seaweed, which she mistook for Cyril’s cold, wet hand on her throat. That she dropped the last Indian figure and broke it is evidence to the reader that she will indeed follow the suggestion of the noose and hang herself.

With the conclusion of this chapter, the reader is left utterly mystified, realizing that Vera was not the killer but unable to solve the puzzle any other way. We are left to analyze the puzzle in the epilogue and discover the truth in the killer’s confession letter to Scotland Yard.

EPILOGUE

Summary

Assistant Commissioner Legge and Inspector Maine arrive on Indian Island to investigate the ten deaths. Maine reviews the troubling details of the case for Legge, noting that the townsfolk know nothing about the incident, and the disreputable man who made the arrangements, Isaac Morris, is dead from an overdose of pills. The townspeople had been told a survival experiment was underway and that they should ignore any pleas for help. Fred Narracott, the boatman, decided to respond to the SOS anyhow, but by the time the sea was calm enough to sail, everyone on the island was dead. The gramophone record was made by an acting firm, so no clues appeared there. Scotland Yard investigated the accusations on the recording and concluded the following: U.N. Owen wanted to punish people for murders he believed they committed, which the law had not been able to prosecute for lack of evidence or clear intent.

The investigators conclude that one of the ten must have been U.N. Owen. From several of the guests’ diaries and notes, they concur on the order of the deaths: Marston, Mrs. Rogers, Macarthur, Rogers, Miss Brent, and then Wargrave. The remaining deaths, however, cannot be put in order. From the coroner’s report, Armstrong could not have died last, so he is eliminated as a suspect. Vera Claythorne seems the most likely other candidate, but her guilt is made impossible by the fact that the chair she must have kicked away to hang herself was put back straight against the wall - obviously by someone else. The two men from Scotland Yard are left with an unsolvable case.

Notes

The central purpose of the Epilogue is to summarize the mystery for the reader, including how the outcome appeared to investigators who knew nothing of what happened. Ironically, however, even the reader who knows the entire plot cannot yet identify the killer. Another important element in this chapter is the investigators’ conclusion that the killer’s purpose must have been to execute nine other people who had committed direct or indirect murderers and had escaped formal justice. Taking justice into one’s own hands is a major theme of the book; the inspectors determine that a madman decided to do just that on Indian Island.

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