And Then There Were None | Study Guide

Agatha Christie

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And Then There Were None | Chapter 6 | Summary

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Summary

Dr. Armstrong dreams he has to murder a patient on the table without arousing the suspicion of the sister or British nurse attending the surgery. He first thinks he has to murder Miss Brent, who is "malicious," but then the patient becomes Anthony Marston, dead, but laughing. The shaking turns out to be from Rogers trying to rouse Dr. Armstrong to tell the doctor he can't wake his wife and that something is wrong. The doctor examines her, and tells Rogers his wife is dead. Rogers says his wife never used sleeping pills, and only took what Dr. Armstrong gave her last night.

The boat hasn't shown up and there is a storm coming. Dr. Armstrong waits until after breakfast to tell the other guests about Ethel Rogers's death. Everyone makes small talk until then, purposely avoiding talk about the island itself. When Dr. Armstrong delivers the bad news, Miss Brent, who decides Mrs. Rogers died of fright because she was guilty of murdering an old lady, says her death was an act of God, and that the "wrath of God" can strike down sinners. Justice Wargrave tells her "Providence" leaves that sort of thing to "mortals." Ex-Inspector Blore thinks Rogers killed her because she was becoming weak and might tell the rest of them they did kill the woman they had under their care. General Macarthur doesn't think a man would do that to his wife, but Blore says, "When a man's neck's in danger, he doesn't stop to think too much about sentiment."

Philip Lombard tells Blore he thinks the boat isn't coming because it's all part of the plan. General Macarthur wanders past and says they will never leave the island. He mutters there is peace in that knowledge, "to come to the end—not have to go on," and then wanders into the yard and off to the seaside to relax. Lombard and Blore think he's lost his mind. Dr. Armstrong comes out on the terrace and is about to talk with Justice Wargrave but Rogers begs him to come inside. Rogers is completely terrorized and points out to Dr. Armstrong that one figurine went missing the night before and now another one is gone. There are only eight left.

Analysis

A meal again serves as the framework for knowledge of a murder. The talk around the breakfast table is pleasant and the food is good, although there isn't much toast because the boat delivering supplies and food did not arrive. Once everyone has eaten, Dr. Armstrong tells them about Ethel Rogers's death, and the strong reactions that follow are predictable.

The themes of class and gender surface in this chapter when Ex-Inspector Blore immediately assumes that "just like a woman," Mrs. Rogers was on the verge of telling everyone she and her husband killed the old woman they cared for. Blore is certain love doesn't overcome self-preservation, especially if the one doing the self-preserving is the man in the relationship and the one about to squeal is the woman. Blore's perception of women as weak creatures who can't be trusted reflects a view of women still pervasive in the 1930s. Dr. Armstrong's instinct to talk to Justice Wargrave rather than Blore and Philip Lombard also reflects trust for the person with more authority and status.

Rogers trusts Dr. Armstrong, which helps the reader realize Rogers did not kill his wife, nor did Dr. Armstrong. Rogers seems about to lose his mind and thinks Dr. Armstrong's corroboration of the number of figurines will somehow clear up the mystery. At the very least, he is able to share his sense of horror. At this point in the novel, the symbolism of the figurines as representations of the people on the island is solidified by the disappearance of a second figurine just after the second death.

Rogers is not one of the guests questioning other's sanity, but he certainly questions his own. Blore and Lombard question the general's sanity. General Macarthur has completely lost his will to live and chooses to go sit out by the water alone, knowing he may die soon. At least he will be at peace there. His conviction that no one will leave the island, though, foreshadows the isolation of the guests during the storm and afterward. The general senses this fact, but the other guests want to save themselves. In the general's state of shock, he has a better sense of the impending doom than those who claim to be sane.

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