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And Then There Were None: Setting & Theme

Instructor: Kerry Gray

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

In the Agatha Christie thriller, 'And Then There Were None…', the setting of the story is as important as the characters. In this lesson, we will learn more about the setting and the theme of this story.

Elements of Danger

How does the setting of a story affect the plot points? In Agatha Christie's, And Then There Were None… the author created a scenario that enticed the characters to come together in this place, but provides an element of danger and excitement in a location where the guests are unable to leave. The setting of a story includes the time, place, and circumstances surrounding a story. The themes of a story are its main points that the author hopes the reader will walk away understanding. The themes of this novel include justice, conscience, and division among social classes.

Indian Island
island

An Intriguing Island

When each of the characters is invited to Indian Island, most of them had only read about it in the newspapers. At one point, the island was owned by a movie star who had lavish parties and this added mystery and intrigue to the prospect of visiting the island. It is described as 'an enchanting place' to enjoy the sunshine and experience nature. Basically, the island is a rock not far from the coast of Devon, England that resembles the profile of an American Indian head. Its rough terrain is covered with seagulls and high cliffs. Vera Claythorne is struck by how much further it is from the coast than she expected and how wide the sea looks in comparison. 'There was something sinister about it. She shivered faintly.'

The Weather

On the way to the island, the characters discussed the weather. August can be brutal in England, but Indian Island is a fun place in good weather. However, when the weather is difficult, it becomes impossible to get on and off the island. 'Can't land on Indian Island when there's a southeasterly. Sometimes 'tis cut off for a week or more,' says Fred Narracott, the ferry driver. Lombard, a former military man, could feel a storm coming on. By the next morning, Marston and Mrs. Rogers have been killed, and the storm has arrived. According to Emily Brent, 'The weather is changing. The wind is quite strong, and there are white horses on the sea.' It becomes evident that the guests are all sitting ducks, waiting for the murderer to choose his next victim. Because of the raging storm, communication with the mainland has been cut off and even if the wind and rain died down enough to land a boat, sea levels are too high and dangerous to travel.

Justice and Retribution

Why have they all been brought to an inescapable island in the middle of a storm? One of the themes of the novel is justice. The killer views each of these individuals as being guilty of crimes that the legal system is unable to hold them accountable for. Justice has a way of catching up with people who misbehave…sometimes with a little help from a madman.

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