And Then There Were None | Study Guide

Agatha Christie

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And Then There Were None | Chapter 1 | Summary

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Summary

The novel opens with a description of each of the guests who have been invited to stay on Indian Island and their journey to the rendezvous point where they will take a boat to the island. Each guest has a personal invitation written by someone who has the initials U.N. and the last name Owen. Not all the signatures are legible enough to be read, however, which allows Miss Emily Brent to believe that the letter she received is from an acquaintance with the last name Oliver.

Vera Claythorne has been hired as a secretary to Mrs. Owen, Dr. Armstrong has been asked to come take care of Mrs. Owen, Ex-Inspector Blore has been hired to make sure no one steals Mrs. Owen's jewels, and Philip Lombard has been hired to do whatever Mr. Owen asks him to do, legal or not. General Macarthur thinks he's meeting up with old buddies, Anthony Marston thinks he's visiting another rich man and races in his sports car to the meeting point, passing Dr. Armstrong, who reflects on an event that shook him up and got him to stop drinking. Justice Wargrave's letter is from Lady Constance Culmington. Wargrave is the only person without a letter from Mr. Owen. As Ex-Inspector Blore travels to the meeting point on a train, an old man next to him tells Blore a squall is coming and that the "day of judgement is at hand."

Analysis

All the guests who are there as hired help are glad to come to the island, but the guests invited by acquaintances or friends are a little confused about the sudden, unexpected contact and invitation to Indian Island. The island has been in the papers lately with rumors about who has purchased the island. Two of the hired guests, Ex-Inspector Blore and Philip Lombard, have jobs they can't talk about, which immediately makes them guilty of dishonesty. Readers may already suspect they have something up their sleeves.

The squall predicted by the old man is not just a sign of the stormy weather to come, which is not yet evident to the guests, who see only the blue sky. The coming storm symbolizes the isolation, confusion, and terror that is about to surround the guests on the island. The hint that Blore will reach his judgment day before the old man foreshadows the murders that are about to start happening.

Anthony Marston's fast driving, nearly knocking Dr. Armstrong's car off the road, foreshadows the revelation of an event in his past. Dr. Armstrong's decision to stop drinking is also not totally explained, but his story is another hint that the skeletons in his closet will be revealed as well. Christie places every detail very carefully to let the reader start to collect clues as to what might happen later in the novel.

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