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Murder on the Orient Express

Agatha Christie

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Murder on the Orient Express | Quotes


The murderer is with us—on the train now.

M. Bouc, Part 1, Chapter 5

M. Bouc makes this statement when he realizes Samuel Ratchett's murderer could not have entered or departed the train nor come from a coach behind the Istanbul-Calais coach. Thus the murderer must be a passenger or conductor on the Istanbul-Calais coach.


Me, I suspect everybody till the last minute.

Hercule Poirot, Part 1, Chapter 6

After he meets with Hector MacQueen, Hercule Poirot says MacQueen seems like an honest person. M. Bouc assumes this means Poirot has eliminated MacQueen from his list of suspects, but this is not the case. Until all of the evidence is in, Poirot will not draw conclusions about innocence or guilt. Everyone is a possible suspect until all evidence is in and examined. Only then can the truth be known.


It is the psychology I seek, not the fingerprint or the cigarette ash.

Hercule Poirot, Part 1, Chapter 7

Dr. Constantine believes the dented watch is a significant clue. Hercule Poirot disagrees. He wants to know more about the "psychology" of those involved—what makes them tick—because this will reveal a motive for the murder and will tell more about the murderer than a tangible clue.


I remember now. This is Destiny.

Princess Dragomiroff, Part 2, Chapter 6

Princess Dragomiroff makes this remark when she learns Hercule Poirot's identity. She believes fate brought Poirot to the case, either because Poirot is a superior detective who will identify the murderers or because she trusts he will do the right thing when he identifies them.


I belong to the world, Madame.

Hercule Poirot, Part 2, Chapter 7

When Countess Andrenyi asks Hercule Poirot if he belongs to the League of Nations, he says he belongs to the world. Poirot believes he is bound to a higher moral standard than the laws of a specific organization.


He became less of a stage character and more of a real person.

Narrator, Part 2, Chapter 9

Right before Cyrus Hardman admits his real identity to Hercule Poirot, his behavior changes. He takes the chewing gum out of his mouth and speaks in a less irritating voice. His crass persona—a loud, nasal-voiced, gum-chewing, American salesman—was just a facade to conceal his true identity as an intelligent, observant, and discerning detective.


It is very respectable, very well dressed, but underneath it is all wrong.

Antonio Foscarelli, Part 2, Chapter 10

During his interview Antonio Foscarelli tells Hercule Poirot that he never met Samuel Ratchett during his travels in America but he knows his type. Foscarelli can see beyond appearances and deduce what people are really like. And he deduced Samuel Ratchett was evil, not respectable.


Only in America do they teach you the proper way to sell.

Antonio Foscarelli, Part 2, Chapter 10

Foscarelli explains to Hercule Poirot how he could tell that Samuel Ratchett was not what he seemed. As a salesperson, Foscarelli was trained to read people's body language, facial expressions, and words to identify what makes them most receptive to buying. Foscarelli is, in his own way, as astute as a detective or psychologist in reading people and using such information to prompt desired behavior.


The impossible cannot have happened, therefore the impossible must be possible in spite of appearances.

Hercule Poirot, Part 2, Chapter 13

When M. Bouc asks Hercule Poirot how the murderer could be on the train when there is no evidence of a passenger fitting the murderer's description, Poirot says the investigators should believe it is possible, even if they haven't figured out how.


It is not dans son caractère ... when you have said that, you have said everything.

Hercule Poirot, Part 2, Chapter 15

This quotation characterizes Christie's reliance on stereotypes to develop her characters. After the investigators find pipe cleaners in Colonel Arbuthnot's luggage matching those found at the crime scene, Dr. Constantine believes they have proof of Arbuthnot's guilt. Hercule Poirot dismisses the evidence because he doesn't think Arbuthnot is the type to commit the crime. This expresses Poirot's absolute faith in type. If something is "not in its character," it cannot be true.


We know all that can be known—from outside.

Hercule Poirot, Part 3, Chapter 2

The investigators have gathered all the evidence. Now, Hercule Poirot notes, they need to study these external clues to figure out their meaning.


But after all, why not? ... If so, that would explain everything.

Hercule Poirot, Part 3, Chapter 3

Hercule Poirot says this under his breath after he has spent 15 minutes pondering everything he knows about the crime. He has come upon a possible solution fitting all the evidence and explaining the inconsistencies of what seems to be an impossible crime.


Well, you know, I had the preposterous idea that it might be the truth.

Hercule Poirot, Part 3, Chapter 5

Hercule Poirot and M. Bouc discuss Count Andrenyi's pledge about his wife's innocence in Samuel Ratchett's murder. Bouc is convinced the count merely gave his word to protect Countess Andrenyi, but Poirot believes the count's word is honorable and he is telling the truth. This represents the presumption of innocence until proven guilty, a foundation of Western law. For Poirot to take this stance is an example of situational irony and adds depth in the story. Suddenly he seems to be accepting someone's word as truth, whereas before he refused to accept anything at face value.


Society had condemned him; we were only carrying out the sentence.

Princess Dragomiroff, Part 3, Chapter 9

After Poirot presents two solutions to the assembled passengers and Pierre Michel, Princess Dragomiroff explains how the group became a self-appointed jury and carried out the death penalty. She justifies their decision based on society's condemnation. However, the criminal justice system—not society—is responsible for making such decisions. Thus the novel's ending is not exactly open-ended but has much to be discussed about the individual and the social powers of judgment.

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