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Murder on the Orient Express

Agatha Christie

Chapters 7–8, Section three

Chapters 4–6, Section three

Chapter 9, Part three

Chapter 7

Mary Debenham is called into the dining car. Poirot asks why she lied and concealed the fact she was living in the Armstrong house at the time of the murder. Mary admits this is true; she had to hide her true identity so new families would hire her. She was afraid that if people found out she had any connection to the Armstrongs they might not hire her. Mary tells Poirot she did not recognize Countess Andrenyi, three years had passed since she last saw the Countess and she looked much different. Mary breaks down in tears and Colonel Arbuthnot, still in the room, threatens Poirot. The couple leaves the dining car. M. Bouc is, again, astonished at Poirot's abilities, he cannot figure how he knew the Mary worked at the Armstrong house. Poirot tells M. Bouc he knew it was Mary because the Countess tried so hard to protect her. The Countess described her governess as a big, red-haired woman—the exact opposite of Mary. The countess, thinking of Debenham, told Poirot the name of her governess was Freebody. In London there is a store Debenham and Freebody—it was the first name she thought of.

Chapter 8

M. Bouc says he wouldn't be surprised if everyone on the coach had something to do with the Armstrong family. Poirot tells him that his remark is profound. The Italian, Antonio Foscanelli, is called once again to the dining car. Antonio admits he was the Armstrong's chauffer, but insists he did not murder Ratchett. He describes Daisy to Poirot, "the delight of the house," who used to pretend to drive the car.

Greta Ohlsson is called into the dining car. She immediately collapses into tears. She admits she was Daisy Armstrong's nurse and regrets not telling Poirot earlier.

Masterman is called next. Masterman immediately approaches Poirot and, without any prodding or questioning, tells Poirot he was Colonel Armstrong's batman in the War and was his valet afterwards. Masterman pleads Antonio's innocence; he argues that Antonio "wouldn't hurt a fly."

After Masterman departs, Hardman enters. Poirot asks if he is not somehow connected to the Armstrong house. Hardman denies any connection, but thinks he may be the only one on the train that is not involved with the Armstrongs. Hardman asks if Poirot has any idea about the identities of the American and her maid. Poirot, smiling, suggests they may be cook and housekeeper. Hardman asks if Poirot knows who murdered Ratchett. Poirot replies, "I have known for some time." He tells Hardman to call all of the Passengers into the dining car.

Analysis

In Murder on the Orient Express, Christie describes British attitudes towards American and Americans in 1934. Hardman is the typical "American": he is loud, fairly obnoxious and constantly makes jokes. The United States is described as a diverse country that brings together many nationalities and peoples.

Hardman's language is particularly distinctive from the rest of the passengers. Hardman is known for using expressions such as "can you beat it?" and "It's got me beat" and other such colloquialisms that set him apart from the other, more proper European passengers. Hardman is constantly using slang like, "Count me out," "I take off my hat to you," "American dame" and "Bughouse"; Hardman describes Poirot as "a pretty slick guesser. Yes, I'll tell the whole world you're a slick guesser." There is so much slang in Hardman's language that one might think he knew nothing else. Christie created an idea of the American, a one-dimensional stock "American." The use of slang in the novel is awkward at times by comparison to the other character's speech and betrays Christie's expertise on America. Like Dr. Constantine, she struggles to translate American English; he asks Poirot if he will rely on intuition, "what the Americans call 'the hunch'?" Hardman is an "idea" of the typical American citizen; he is a big, slouching American that uses more slang than proper English.

Alcoholism and law breaking are also traits associated with: Hardman's suitcase, his "grips" are bursting with hidden "spirituous liquor." The American, out of the borders of American prohibition lines, binges on alcohol and lines his suitcase with liquor. Hardman admits, "I can't say Prohibition has ever worried me any" and fully intends to bring alcohol into the US, "By the time I get to Paris...what's left of this little lot will go into a bottle labelled hairwash." American law is portrayed as silly and ineffective and Americans desperate, repressed alcoholics. The men joke about prohibition laws, M. Bouc says with a smile, "You are not a believer in Prohibition, Monsieur Hardman." M. Bouc thinks that the name "speakeasy" is "quaint," implying the U.S. is a backwards country and he characterizes American language as "so expressive."

Poirot expresses less bias than M. Bouc, "Me, I would much like to go to America...there is much I admire about America." Poirot's admiration for America does not include American women. Both Poirot and Hardman express distaste for American women. Hardman, an American man, falls in love with a French woman and Poirot remarks, "I find the American women less charming than my own country-women. The French or the Belgian girl, coquettish, charming—I think there is no one to touch her." There are, of course, American women on board the train, but only one is admittedly American—Mrs. Hubbard. Mrs. Hubbard, a shrewd, fat, loudmouth lady doesn't have the same proclivity for American slang, but is has the same physical size and loud mouth as Hardman. Americans and American women are bold, improper, ugly people.

Lastly, America is characterized as a place of "progress," social and otherwise. The population of the train is suspicious because it has people of "all races and all nationalities on board." Poirot knows that such diversity can only exist in the United States, in a household like the Armstrong's. Diversity and Progress are something that the European men admire about America, "It is true that America is the country of progress," says Poirot.

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