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And Then There Were None

Agatha Christie


Quotes Suspicion
Did he look all right? He supposed so. Nobody had been exactly cordial to him… Funny the way they all eyed each other—as though they knew….

Blore feels the weight of suspiciousness among the guests. A former policemen invited to the island to investigate them, he has chosen the identity of a visitor from a South African British colony. Getting ready to encounter the guests again, Blore takes care looking over his disguise, but he suspects the disguise doesn’t work as he feels the guests know his true purpose. Blore makes incorrect assumptions from the start. The guests eye each other but not him in particular. He has not yet figured out that the party consists of strangers, and their behavior reflects hesitation to talk but curiosity to find out more about each other.

Everybody had been very friendly. At first, that is. Later, he’d had an uneasy feeling that people were talking about him behind his back. They eyed him differently, somehow…. He’d avoided people after that—withdrawn into himself. Unpleasant to feel that people were discussing you.

General Macarthur reflects on his current living situation. Having been widowed, he moved to a new area of England. He believes that his once-friendly neighbors must have heard a rumor about the possibility that he sent a man to his death during the Great War, and as such they became less friendly. Readers might infer that Macarthur’s uneasy feelings and subsequent self-isolation all naturally result from guilt-induced paranoia.

The storm increased. The wind howled against the side of the house. Everyone was in the living room. They sat listlessly huddled together. And, surreptitiously, they watched each other. When Rogers brought in the tea tray, they all jumped.

The narrator describes the scene and emotional state of the guests after Wargrave argues that one of the houseguests is a murderer. The storm traps everyone on the island, only increasing the sense of anxiety and fear. Although all of the guests sit together, none talks, and each becomes lost in his or her own suspicious thoughts. This suspicion seems only natural: They know very little about one another, and what they do know from the recording, if true, further alienates them. Their mistrust of one another will hinder their finding of the murderer, a fact that the murderer probably relies on.

Breakfast was a curious meal. Everyone was very polite…. Six people, all outwardly self-possessed and normal. And within? Thoughts that ran round in a circle like squirrels in a cage…. “What next? What next? Who? Which?”

The narrator describes the scene at breakfast. Despite inwardly suspecting one another, the six remaining guests treat each other with outward naturalness and politeness. They have several reasons to do so. They need to maintain calm, for their own sanity. They don’t want to make accusations without certainty, because allies will be important and might be lost that way. And they wish to deflect suspicion from themselves by appearing as normal and pleasant as possible. All of these motives lead to a curiously charming breakfast despite four dead bodies in the house.

Five people—five frightened people. Five people who watched each other, who now hardly troubled to hide the state of their nervous tension. There was little pretense now….They were five enemies linked together by a mutual instinct of self-preservation.

The narrator explains that the remaining five houseguests believe, and correctly so, that the murderer sits among them. Since they all openly share this belief, they no longer need to pretend that they do not suspect each other. Their only goal is to survive, ideally by identifying the murderer and stopping him or her from killing again. Although some guests may form alliances at times, only a very unwise person truly trusts in his partner’s innocence.