And Then There Were None | Study Guide

Agatha Christie

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And Then There Were None | Chapter 11 | Summary

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Summary

The next morning no one wakes up to the smell of breakfast because there isn't any. Philip Lombard is the first to notice, and he wakes up Ex-Inspector Blore. Justice Wargrave is not yet out of bed, but Dr. Armstrong and Vera Claythorne are dressed. Miss Brent is not in her room. Lombard realizes Rogers is missing and the kitchen fire is out. It looks like he has dressed and shaved, but there's no other sign of him. Miss Brent comes back from walking outside and says she hasn't seen Rogers either. She and Vera set the table, and Vera notices there are only six figurines on the table.

The group finds Rogers near the shed where he had been chopping kindling. There is an axe-wound to his head, and he is dead. Armstrong theorizes about whether one of the women could have committed the crime. Vera comes outside ranting about a bee hive, because the "chopping sticks" verse of the rhyme has come true and the next one is about a bee hive. Dr. Armstrong slaps her face to get her to stop ranting. She goes inside to fix breakfast with Miss Brent.

Lombard and Blore wonder aloud to each other about Miss Brent having been outside when Rogers was killed. After more conjecture about other possible suspects for the latest murder, Lombard says Blore doesn't have the imagination to commit these intricately linked murders, and Blore admits to having committed perjury to avoid the wrath of a gang. Lombard thinks Blore won't survive on the island, but is pretty sure he himself will live.

Vera wonders why Miss Brent is so calm and asks her why she isn't afraid of dying. Miss Brent reminisces about her family and how staid they are, never showing their stress. She also believes that because she has led what she thinks is an "upright life," God will take care of her. She thinks General Macarthur's welcome attitude to death was impious, and then thinks of the young maid Beatrice, who was in her dream the night before, begging to come in. Of course, Miss Brent wouldn't let her in. At breakfast, all six guests are quiet, thinking to themselves similar thoughts about what will happen next, and it appears two of the guests are thinking about a plan, one of them thinking the other is a fool for believing him.

Analysis

The nursery rhyme continues to come true, as Rogers is killed chopping sticks, "and then there were six." Vera's hysteria over this connection comes from stress, as Dr. Armstrong points out, because Vera is not usually like this. The guests have all reached an emotional breaking point, except for the judge and perhaps Miss Brent, though she is having bad dreams about Beatrice.

Ex-Inspector Blore finally admits to perjury, but it appears he was forced into it by a gang. Lombard thinks he won't survive, which embarrasses him. Guilt and the realization they are all doomed allows Blore to finally be honest about his story. Lombard's confidence in his ability to survive seems to say to the reader he's not the best choice for a suspect. Confidence is not rewarded on the island. Miss Brent's confidence that God will take care of her also seems misplaced, especially since she is having guilt-ridden dreams.

The narrator does not attribute the private thoughts around the table at breakfast to anyone in particular, so the reader has to guess at who is saying what. Vera is obsessed with the figurines, but every other thought could be any one of the guests, though Wargrave apparently thinks he knows who the culprit is. One of the guests, however, is trying to fool another guest, and the reader doesn't know who that is. The tension is building, for the characters in their fragmented, terrified thoughts, and for the reader as well.

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