And Then There Were None

by: Agatha Christie

Themes

While the ones who do not own up to their crimes feel the guiltiest, no such correlation exists between levels of guilt and likelihood of survival. Conscience has no bearing on who lives the longest, as is illustrated by the contrast between the last two characters left alive, Lombard and Vera. Lombard feels no guilt, and the air of doom that enshrouds the island doesn’t affect him. Vera, on the other hand, is so guilt-ridden that she ends her life by succumbing to the seemingly inevitable conclusion of the “Ten Little Indians” poem and the aura of almost supernatural vengeance that pervades the novel.

The Danger of Reliance on Class Distinctions

And Then There Were None takes place in 1930s Britain, a society stratified into strict social classes. These distinctions play a subtle but important role in the novel. As the situation on the island becomes more and more desperate, social hierarchies continue to dictate behavior, and their persistence ultimately makes it harder for some characters to survive. Rogers continues to perform his butler’s duties even after it becomes clear that a murderer is on the loose, and even after the murderer has killed his wife. Because it is expected of a man of his social class, Rogers washes up after people, remains downstairs to clean up after the others have gone to bed, and rises early in the morning to chop firewood. The separation from the group that his work necessitates makes it easy for the murderer to kill him. Additionally, the class-bound mentality of Dr. Armstrong proves disastrous for himself and others, as he refuses to believe that a respectable professional man like Wargrave could be the killer.