And Then There Were None: Characters & Quotes

Instructor: Kerry Gray

Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.

Agatha Christie managed to create ten unique characters that all have something in common: each has committed a crime that has gone under the radar. In this lesson, we'll learn more about these ten people who were chosen to go to Indian Island to meet their fate in 'And Then There Were None…'

Indian Island

If you were invited to spend a week on an island with someone you barely knew, would you go? In Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None..., one of the original whodunits based on vigilante justice, ten unsuspecting people are invited to a place called Indian Island under varying circumstances. But it turns out, they've been gathered by a madman who acts out a morbid nursery rhyme from his childhood called Ten Little Indians.

These guests aren't just random victims, however, and they were definitely not randomly selected for the madman's game. Instead, they were chosen because each had committed an offense against an innocent victim for which they were never held accountable. Let's learn more about these 'special guests' and why each ended up as part of a deadly game on Indian Island.


The Ten Little Indians

Before coming to Indian Island, Vera Claythorne had worked as a nursery governess for the Hamilton family. Mr. Hamilton died while his wife was pregnant with their son, Cyril. If Cyril had been a girl, all of Mr. Hamilton's money would have gone to his brother, Hugo, with whom Vera had fallen in love. But since Cyril is a boy, he is the rightful heir to his father's fortune.

Hugo wants to marry Vera, but he cannot afford to take on a wife. Vera decides to take matters into her own hands. She distracts Cyril's mother and gives Cyril permission to swim out to a rock. When Cyril drowns, there is a coroner's inquiry, but Vera is cleared of all charges. Vera wonders, 'Had Hugo suspected? Was that why he had looked at her in that queer far-off way. . . ? Had Hugo known?' After Cyril's death, Hugo leaves her heartbroken.

Philip Lombard is a former soldier who, while working in South Africa with a group of 21 natives, found himself lost. Without enough food for the group, Lombard and some others took off and left the natives to fend for themselves. When confronted about it, he is unapologetic. 'Story's quite true! I left 'em! Matter of self-preservation. We were lost in the bush. I and a couple of other fellows took what food there was and cleared out.'

Because of his medical degree, Dr. Edward George Armstrong emerges as a leader when people start dying on Indian Island, but he has his own demons. Early in his career, he killed a woman by operating on her while under the influence. 'Drunk-that's what it was-drunk. And I operated! Nerves all to pieces-hands shaking. I killed her, all right. Poor devil-elderly woman-simple job if I'd been sober. Lucky for me there's loyalty in our profession. The Sister knew, of course-but she held her tongue.' As a result of his guilt, Dr. Armstrong cleaned up his act and continued his career without incident.

William Henry Blore is a crooked ex-Inspector for Scotland Yard, who once framed a man. With his background, you would think that he would be able to figure out what's happening on the island, but Blore lacks focus in his accusations of nearly every other character. Dr. Armstrong tells him straight, 'I mean, my dear Blore, that in my opinion you haven't got a chance!' 'What?' 'Your lack of imagination is going to make you absolutely a sitting target. A criminal of the imagination of U. N. Owen can make rings round you any time he-or she-wants to.' Blore makes it longer than anyone expects before he is crushed by a falling clock.

Emily Brent is the old maid of the group who thumps her Bible, but has no real compassion for other people. When her maid, Beatrice, becomes pregnant, Emily throws her out of the house, which prompts Beatrice to commit suicide. Emily does not feel any guilt because she believes it was Beatrice's fault for getting herself in that position. When Mrs. Roger's dies, Emily's theory is that she got the judgement she deserved. 'You regard it as impossible that a sinner should be struck down by the wrath of God! I do not!'

Thomas Rogers and his wife are the caretakers of the island. They arrive two days earlier than the other guests, but never met their employer. Prior to taking the job on Indian Island, the Rogers worked for a lady named Miss Brady who died suddenly and left them a great deal of money. During the investigation, Inspector Maine says, 'Can't get anything definite out of the doctor who attended her. He says they certainly didn't poison her, or anything like that, but his personal belief is that there was some funny business- that she died as the result of neglect on their part.'

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