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And Then There Were None | Chapter 10 | Summary

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Summary

Vera Claythorne and Philip Lombard talk with each other about who the murderer might be. They both think it can't be true that one of them must be a murderer. Lombard thinks Vera is too level-headed to be this kind of killer, and Vera hesitates to "return the compliment." She knows Lombard has a gun and has killed before, but she tells him she doesn't think he would orchestrate this kind of creepy chain of killings. Lombard says the only way he would commit a murder is for his own benefit, and there's no benefit to killing all the guests on this island. The killer is doing it for fun. Lombard is "plumping for" Justice Wargrave as the murderer because he thinks it's just a short distance between "judge and executioner." Vera thinks it's the doctor because he has access to so many poisons, doctors go mad from stress, and he had the opportunity to kill General Macarthur. No one else in the group knows how to determine how long a body's been dead.

Rogers has a conversation with someone besides the doctor for the very first time. He asks Ex-Inspector Blore if he has an idea who the murderer is, seeing as he's an ex-cop. Blore says that if he's right, the person is a "cool customer." But Blore isn't sure, and Rogers has no idea who it might be. The lack of knowledge is what scares Rogers the most.

Dr. Armstrong and Justice Wargrave are also conversing about who the killer might be. Dr. Armstrong thinks they have to find a way to leave the island before they are "murdered in their beds." Wargrave privately thinks Armstrong's thinking "in clichés" shows a lack of creativity. Wargrave says he thinks he knows who the killer is, and thinks there are a few things they can do. Armstrong doesn't know what he's getting at. Meanwhile, Miss Brent is in her room writing in her journal, and her mind leads her to write that Beatrice, her pregnant maid, is the killer. She realizes she is losing her mind.

Tea time returns the group to "blessed normality." But a couple of things go missing—Miss Brent's wool yarn and an oil-silk curtain. That evening, when everyone goes to bed, they all lock their doors. Rogers locks the figurines in a cabinet so the killer can't get at them.

Analysis

Philip Lombard's idea that Justice Wargrave is the killer is not the first time someone in the group has accused him, but it is the first outright admission that Wargrave's power might have gone to his head and gone further than just death sentences in court. It's an opportunity for the reader to weigh evidence against a person who hasn't been a major suspect up to this point. Vera's idea that the doctor is the killer has its merits, but such a conclusion seems too obvious for an Agatha Christie novel.

Rogers decides to have a conversation with Ex-Inspector Blore, which shows he's really getting scared. He's turning from the doctor to the ex-policeman for a theory. Rogers highlights the heart of the novel—the lack of information and not knowing is the scariest part of the whole story.

Miss Brent continues to be deeply unpleasant, but this time in an insane fashion, in her journal. Her self-awareness after she writes, though, exonerates her from being crazy enough to go after everyone on the island. Justice Wargrave, however, has a plan and a theory, but Christie isn't about to reveal what that is. She never returns to their conversation, which may alert the reader to a possible clue about the identity of the murderer.

The disappearing wool yarn and curtain just seem odd in the midst of much more serious crimes, but all Agatha Christie novels have odd details like this sprinkled into the mix. Readers should expect these items to reappear later in the novel.

Meals continue to be a stabilizing force in the plot, and Christie even has the narrator mention that teatime is what helps the group return to a semblance of normalcy. But once mealtime is over, everyone goes back to locked doors and suspicion, and Rogers even tries to thwart the murderer by locking up the figurines. The figurines have become so connected with who they represent that it doesn't seem so silly anymore—protecting the symbols of living people.

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