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And Then There Were None | Chapter 9 | Summary

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Summary

At first, Ex-Inspector Blore is relieved they haven't found anyone else on the island, and thinks this means the two deaths are accidental, but he forgets that cyanide is not a common substance to be using in one's drink. Blore indirectly accuses Dr. Armstrong of making a mistake with Mrs. Rogers's sedative, which Dr. Armstrong vehemently denies. Blore mentions the accusation made against Dr. Armstrong, that he killed one of his patients on the operating table. Philip Lombard then accuses Blore of perjury, and Blore wants to know why Lombard is carrying a gun. Lombard then admits to his reason for being on the island, and explains his interaction with Isaac Morris and the hundred guineas Morris gave Lombard to go to the island with the others. Lombard thinks they are all in a trap, but wants to know where Owen, the man who apparently wrote all the letters inviting them there, could possibly be.

Rogers is worried because Fred Narracott hasn't come to deliver food, and a storm is on its way. Vera Claythorne comes rushing in, late for lunch, and everyone notices General Macarthur is not there yet either. Rogers offers to go get him, but Dr. Armstrong gets up to find the general. He comes running back to tell everyone the general is dead, and Vera is the one who shouts it out. As the men are bringing in the body, Vera and Rogers run into each other at the table, and Vera harshly says to Rogers, "there are only seven."

The doctor comes down and tells Justice Wargrave the general died from a blow to the head, possibly a life preserver. Wargrave then turns to everyone and says that since there is no one else on the island, it must be the case that Mr. Owen is one of them. Lombard ends up having to repeat his story about why he has the revolver, and Wargrave lets everyone know that up to this point, none of the crimes were unmanageable by a smaller person, so the women are suspects, too. Wargrave says, "there can be no exceptions allowed on the score of character, position, or probability." They have only to consider the facts. After a long haul through all the facts, during which each person gets a turn to feel indignant that the judge seems to be accusing them of being the murderer, the judge wraps up the inquiry, saying there aren't enough facts to accuse or exonerate anyone, so they must all suspect each other and protect themselves before they can get back to the mainland.

Analysis

Christie has built up the tension page by page, and now three of the men nearly come to blows accusing each other of murder. Everyone on the island seems quite capable of murder; they have all been party to murder at some point in their lives. Now, they all know Owen led them to this trap, the game is on, and they are the game pieces. They are all vulnerable. So it's understandable the tension should be palpable. And yet Christie has also not given readers nearly enough clues to solve the case. Readers are as much a part of the guessing and suspecting as the characters, and because of this can identify more closely with the plight of the characters and feel their fear. Moreover, because of her detailed descriptions of body language, facial expression, and careful control of dialogue, Christie draws readers in to the drama, hanging on every word, looking for the smallest clues that might lead to the solution.

The calmest of them all is Lombard, though, and at this point in the game, he realizes he has to be honest about why he's on the island. Lombard believes he's been duped into coming to the island, and his anger over this realization makes him less of a suspect, even with the gun. The author has portrayed Lombard as an unscrupulous person up to this point, but once he realizes he's in the same bad situation with the rest of the guests, his humanity becomes a little bit brighter than his desperation for cash.

The figurines and lines of the rhyme representing the people on the island match up so far with the murders, as General Macarthur's body is found. Vera runs to check, since she is the guest who first noticed them and has connected them with the murders. Rogers also goes to see if this pattern is repeating, and Vera's tone of voice with him surprises even her. Vera Claythorne, seemingly so controlled on the outside, is beginning to lose her ability to control and hide her emotions.

Miss Brent has her moment of righteous indignation when Justice Wargrave points out that she was bending over Mrs. Rogers when everyone came into the room, so she could have administered the fatal overdose of sleeping draught. Miss Brent is stunned and livid that anyone would accuse her of such a thing when she was just trying to be humane. The insistence on being humane is a little strange coming from a woman who has admitted to Vera she isn't sorry her former maid killed herself.

Justice Wargrave holds court for a long time, and by the end, no one thinks they are safe. The instructions are to suspect each other, and a group of people trying to save themselves while suspecting everyone in the group of possible murder must have a horrific effect on the guests. The only civilized thing they manage to do is keep their meal schedule with each other. Meals serve as their human connection.

Justice Wargrave's character doesn't get any more likeable, although he is correct in his assumption that each of them is capable of murder. His "cold" little voice cuts through everything else, and the crowd trusts him because he openly talks about his own lack of an alibi and his inability to circumvent observation. No one suspects him at this point because he is always at the house and doesn't get into the accusatory arguments and conversations that everyone else has been having. Readers must wonder if this in itself is a clue that suggests his guilt, and if Christie keeps him out of the search with the other men for a reason. His satisfaction in saying everyone doing the search had a busy morning is also suspect, but no one notices this except the narrator. Vera does notice that he views her as a piece of evidence and seems not to like her, which makes her shiver. Otherwise, Wargrave gets a pass.

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