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And Then There Were None | Chapter 7 | Summary

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Summary

Vera Claythorne asks Miss Brent if she really believes Rogers and his wife killed Jennifer Brady, and Miss Brent says she does. Vera panics and wonders about her opinion of the other cases. Miss Brent says some of them are far-fetched, although Philip Lombard admits he left people to die. Vera repeats the "only natives" line, but Miss Brent says they are "our brothers, black or white." Vera begins to lose hold of her emotions, disagreeing with Miss Brent in her head. Miss Brent then tells Vera about Beatrice, her maid, who got pregnant. She didn't want to tell the story in front of the men, but reveals to Vera why the girl died. Miss Brent fired Beatrice, and she later committed suicide, throwing herself into the river. Miss Brent's lack of guilt and her conviction that her actions had justification terrifies Vera. "Weren't you sorry?" asks Vera. Miss Brent puts up her "armor of virtue." Miss Brent isn't sorry at all.

Dr. Armstrong speaks privately with Philip Lombard and tells him that Rogers and his wife could have killed their employer very simply by withholding medication. Lombard wonders if Mrs. Rogers committed suicide, but Dr. Armstrong thinks two suicides in a row are not realistic. He also thinks Anthony Marston did not commit suicide because no one carries cyanide around with them. Dr. Armstrong theorizes they might be in the clutches of a homicidal maniac because the cause of the deaths of Marston and Mrs. Rogers match the first two verses (and murders) of the nursery rhyme. Dr. Armstrong says Rogers can't be lying about there being no one else on the island because he is "scared nearly out of his senses." The doctor and Lombard decide to "rope" Blore in to help them search the island for the killer. They leave the women out of it and don't tell Justice Wargrave or General Macarthur.

Analysis

Vera's line of questioning with Miss Brent reveals how terrified she is that someone is going to blame her for Cyril's death. She knows she let the frail little boy swim out to the rock on purpose, and if Miss Brent believes the Rogers couple murdered their boss, it's possible Miss Brent believes Vera murdered Cyril. But Miss Brent's revelation about her own case takes Vera out of her own head and creates a monster in front of her. Miss Brent becomes "terrible" in Vera's eyes, totally willing to fire a poor, young pregnant girl with no resources, and feel no guilt when that girl kills herself out of desperation. Vera's change of heart about Miss Brent mirrors the reader's change of heart, although the reader has already had glimpses of Miss Brent's terrible side.

Murder is the theme of the conversation between Dr. Armstrong and Philip Lombard. The two deaths, one after the other, are mysterious, and after much thought, Armstrong and Lombard agree that they both have to be murder, not suicide. The killings match the first two nursery rhyme verses, and the disappearance of two figurines convinces Armstrong and Lombard there is a murderer at large on the island. The two men come to realize the figurines don't just symbolize the Indians in the poem, they symbolize the people on the island.

The theme of gender is evident in this chapter as well. Miss Brent thinks a story about a pregnant girl is not for male ears, so she tells only Vera. Armstrong and Lombard think the women can't handle the knowledge that there is a murderer on the island, so they don't tell them they're going to search the area. The island is small enough, however, that the women are bound to notice the men have disappeared to search. Each gender sticks to the stereotypes of the other gender, but these perceptions will change as the novel progresses.

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