In order to maintain an atmosphere of uncertainty and suspense, an author must leave the reader guessing and on edge. Christie masterfully fulfills this within her plot, and this is what has caused her to be dubbed as “The Queen of Mystery”. The plot of And Then There Were None, due to the abundance of characters, each with their own backstory and individual storyline, is complicated, and filled with intricacies that help the individual characters come together to be part of a larger plot.
However, Christie is able to maintain clarity and hold attention whilst writing her magnificent tale through the use of character iction, a communal conflict, and a shocking resolution. Each character has a unique style of speech and way of thinking, and Christie masterfully distinguishes each character based on personality and traits. The most prevalent example of this would be through both spoken and internal dialogue, as this showcases a plethora of characteristics.
For example, General Macarthur’s militaristic background is showcased when he thinks “Looked as though there might be something in the rumour that the Admiralty or the War Office or the Air Force had got hold of it. ” (9). From this, the reader can easily infer that the eneral spent time in the military, and it is an important part of his history. In addition, this is established during the exposition of the plot, and therefore the background information provided may be essential to later parts of the plot.
In another example, Christie writes about Dr. Armstrong, saying that “he’d cut out drink altogether. By Jove, it had been a near thing though” (10). Another detail from the exposition, this is a little less straightforward of a connection. However, it is shown later in the story that Dr. Armstrong operated under the influence of alcohol, causing him to kill an a patient. In fact, many details rom exposition are connected in the exposition and rising action.
Furthermore, the way that the characters react to events taking place is essential to the plot, such as after the accusations for each guest are announced, when “at the same moment, from somewhere outside the room there came a scream and the sound of a thud” (39), describing Mrs. Rogers fainting. In the eyes of some character, this is a symbol of guilt, that Mrs. Rogers could not deal with the fact that her accusation was accurate. Throughout the novel, the guests’ reactions causes other guests to change their opinions of each other, adding to the interwoven lot full of uncertainty.
As the novel continues, it is evident that there is a collective problem facing everyone in the group, a problem that is crucial to the plot. At first, the conflict the group must overcome is somewhat unclear, and shrouded in the confusion of the characters. As guests begin to mysteriously die, however, the main problem is clear, as Justice Wargrave states “.. the deaths of Anthony Marston and Mrs. Rogers were neither accidental nor were they suicides” (122). In this moment the remaining guests realize that they have been lured to the island for one purpose: to be murdered, one by one.
As expected, this sets the group on edge, especially when they conclude that the murderer is among them. In reaction, the surviving guests begin to create smaller conflicts with each other, often questioning the actions of one another. For example, Dr. Armstrong questions Mr. Blore’s period of absence to get rope, while Blore aggressively defends himself, saying “What the hell do you mean by that. Dr. Armstrong? ” as Armstrong replies “I only said you were a long time” (132).
Frequently, the guests relate periods of absence to murder, assuming that any time someone is alone they must be plotting to kill. Tensions rise and no one is able to trust anyone else due to the extreme uncertainty associated with the situation. Still, as more guests are murdered and the group is no closer to deciding on a culprit, small alliances are formed, usually to plot against another character, in fact, Vera Claythorne states to Philip Lombard “One has got to trust someone… As a matter of fact I think you’re wrong about Blore.
I still think it’s Armstrong” (209). At this point in the novel, Lombard and Claythorne are two of four remaining guests on the island, and have stayed together for the majority of the final moments of the book. At this point in the novel, all clues point to Armstrong being the psychotic murderer, but when both Armstrong and Blore are found dead, leaving only Claythorne and Lombard together, it seems impossible to determine a solution. That is, until the action begins to fall and the novel comes to close, ending with surprising resolution.
As the novel climaxes and the solution seems to be evident, a twist in the resolution again puts the reader on edge. Once only Claythorne and Lombard remain on the island, it seems like it must be one of them who has committed such brutal crimes, until “automatically Vera pressed the trigger… Lombard’s leaping body stayed poised in mid-spring then crashed heavily to the ground” (218). In fear, Vera Claythorne had shot Lombard through the heart with his own revolver, but only because she thinks that he was the murderer terrorizing the group.
As she walks back to the house, alone, she feel sweet relief, believing that she is safe from anymore harm. How wrong she was, for as Vera walks into her room, she sees a noose, prepared for whatever decision she may make, and ultimately “she climbed up on the chair, her eyes staring in front of her like a sleepwalker’s… She adjusted the noose around her neck” (222). In conclusion, Vera commits suicide by hanging herself, leaving the reader with a plethora of unanswered questions. Who prepared the noose? Why did she kill herself just because of seeing the noose?
And most importantly, who is the actual murderer? It almost seems that these questions will remain unanswered as the book continues into an epilogue, until the final pages of the book, in which a letter is enclosed, reveals that the true murderer was Justice Wargrave, who writes “It was my ambition to invent a murder mystery that no one could solve” (246). In his letter, Wargrave explains the creation of his onflict, how he selected victims who had committed crimes and gotten away with it, how he killed the least guilty first, and endeavoured to make the victims suffer mentally before ending their struggle.
Finally, he describes his own suicide, after watching Vera hang herself, and that because he is dead, and seems to be murdered, no one will ever solve his mystery. This shocking turn of events concludes the plot, which had been sculpted by other elements, such as diction and group problem, bringing an end to the torrent of abuse for the characters, and answers to the unsolved questions for the reader. Altogether, the complex plot of And Then There Were None is successful due to the individual personalities of each character, the large conflict affecting the entire party, and a plot twist in the resolution that leaves the reader in awe.
By describing each of these components in exquisite detail, Christie develops a plot that effectively demonstrates a suspenseful storyline that intrigues the reader. The elements are masterfully woven into the story, working together to showcase the mysterious Soldier Island and the horrific events that take place. In addition, the plot is able to perfectly accompany the eerie setting of Soldier Island.