And Then There Were None

And Then There Were None Summary and Analysis of Chapters 10-12


Chapter 10

Vera Claythorne and Lombard sit and discuss whether they believe everything that Wargrave said. Lombard says he does not know what to make of it all but that he is sure it is murder. They both think that maybe this is all a dream and that “Presently a tap will come on the door and early morning tea will be brought in.” Lombard tells her that he does not fancy that she is the murderer, but Vera is not as sure about Lombard. She mentions to him that he does not seem to hold a high regard for human life. He reminds her that if he were to take the lives of others, it would only be for what he could get out of it.

Lombard suggests that maybe the murderer is Wargrave since “he’s played God Almighty for a good many months every year,” and this fact “must go to a man’s head eventually.” Vera says that she is most suspicious of Dr. Armstrong since two of the deaths were by poison. Lombard notes that Armstrong probably would not have had time to kill Macarthur in the short time he was alone down by the cliffs. Vera reminds him that he had opportunity when he went down to call the General to lunch.

At the house, Rogers and Blore discuss who they believe might be the murderer. Blore says that the person he suspects is a “very cool customer.” Rogers says he has no ideas for the murderer’s identity but that this all seems like a bad dream. In another room, Dr. Armstrong is panicking and crying that they must get off the island. Wargrave reminds him that in this weather, it is unlikely a boat would venture to the island. Armstrong has the thought that Wargrave is probably much more tenacious than anyone realizes. Wargrave says that, though he does not have sufficient proof, that there is one person he believe is implicated in the murders. Armstrong says that he does not understand.

In her room, Miss Brent takes out a small diary and begins to note the events of the day. She notes that Wargrave believes the murderer to be one of the island’s visitors, and “that means that one of us is possessed by a devil.” She sits with her eyes closed for a moment and then, trance like, writes “THE MURDERER’S NAME IS BEATRICE TAYLOR.” She looks down at what she has written and cannot believe it came from her hand.

All the guests gather in the drawing room for tea. They close the curtains and turn on a light to create a more relaxed atmosphere. This seems to work as Armstrong begins to tell a jovial story, and everyone sips some tea. Suddenly, Rogers comes in and nervously asks if anyone has taken the bathroom curtain. None can understand why anyone would want such a thing. A “pall of fear” comes over them once again. All the guests eat dinner, and Miss Brent and Vera Claythorne retire to their bedrooms. All the men hear the sound of the bolts being locked on their doors. The men retire an hour later, and Wargrave reminds them all to lock their doors. Rogers goes back downstairs and has a thought: he locks the dining room door so that no one has the opportunity to sneak in and take another of the ceramic Indians.

Chapter 11

Lombard wakes at dawn and hears the great wind from outside. He goes back to sleep before finally rising at nine thirty. Thinking that things are odd, he knocks on Blore’s door and wakes him as well. They then go to each room and wake the others, all except for Miss Brent who is nowhere to be found. They all think it is odd that Rogers has not roused them or brought them tea. They carefully begin to search the house. Miss Brent joins them. She had been walking around outside in the storm, something they all tell her was exceedingly foolish. Vera then sees that, on the dining room table, another of the ceramic Indians is missing.

They soon find Rogers in the woodshed. He is dead. A large woodchopper leans against the wall with blood on it. Rogers had been hit over the head with it. Armstrong diagnoses the blow and determines that it would not have taken a strong person to deliver the fatal blow. Blore finds no fingerprints on the ax. They all hear laughter in the yard and see Vera Claythorne standing there, laughing and asking if there are any bees on the Island. She explains that the murders are going in order of the children’s rhyme. The last line had been, “Seven little Indian boys chopping up sticks.” The next line is, “Six little Indian boys playing with a hive.” Dr. Armstrong calms Vera and sends her and Miss Brent into the house to begin preparing breakfast.

Blore pulls Lombard aside and gives him his take on the situation. Blore remembers a case of murder by ax some time ago, an unsolved crime because it seemed too incredible that a calm housewife could have committed such a gruesome event. This leads Blore to believe that it is Miss Brent and her religious mania that must be the culprit. He reminds Lombard that Miss Brent had been out wandering the island when Rogers was murdered. Lombard and Blore both agree that they do not suspect the other of the crimes. Blore opens up and tells Lombard that, indeed, he had been responsible for perjury that sent the man named Landor away to prison where he had died. He did it on a bribe from a crime organization. Lombard promises not to tell. He then tells Blore that he is a sitting target for U.N. Owen because he has no criminal imagination. Lombard declares that he has his own imagination and plans to get off this island.

In the kitchen, Vera begins to feel bad because she became so hysterical. This sparks a memory from her day with Cyril. She tries to calm herself, telling herself that Cyril had drowned long before she had been able to reach the rock where he swam. The hurt remains, however, because she knows that Hugo, her true love, knew just from looking at her that she had been responsible for the death. Vera turns to Miss Brent and remarks how calm the woman is. She asks her if she is afraid and says, “Don’t you mind dying?” The word dying shocks Miss Brent, because she had not thought of this concept before. She thinks, “The others would die – yes – but not she, Emily Brent.” At breakfast, everyone is calm, but each is thinking disturbing thoughts about who the murderer could be and which would be the next to die.

Chapter 12

When the breakfast is over, they clear the table and wash up. Miss Brent says that she would help, but that she is feeling too “giddy.” Dr. Armstrong tells her it is delayed shock, and everyone moves into the kitchen. As Miss Brent sits in the dining room, she begins to feel dizzy and to have a quiet buzzing in her ears, like a bee. She suddenly feels somebody in the room, but she cannot turn around and scream. She feels a prick, like a bee sting, on the side of her neck.

Everyone waits for Miss Brent in the drawing room. Blore speaks up and tells everyone that Miss Brent, because of her religious mania, is obviously the killer. He reminds them that she would not explain her accusation from the gramophone. Vera Claythorne tells them that she had confided in her and then tells her the story. Mr. Justice Wargrave observes that it is a reasonable story. They walk into the dining room, looking for Miss Brent, and find her sitting up straight, her face “suffused with blood, with blue lips and staring eyes.”

Armstrong sees the mark on the side of her neck and declares that someone had injected her with poison from a syringe. In the window, a bee is trapped inside and trying to escape the room. Lombard tells them that this is the killer’s “touch of local colour!” The killer “likes to stick to his damnable nursery jingle as closely as possible!” Wargrave asks if anyone brought a hypodermic needle, and Armstrong admits that he always travels with one. The entire party moves upstairs and discovers that the needle is missing.

Armstrong insists that someone must have taken the needle, and the judge tells them that one of them must be the murderer. Wargrave suggests that all medicines and Lombard’s revolver be collected and safely put away. They all go to Lombard’s room to fetch his revolver and are shocked when he opens a drawer, and the revolver is not there. Each guest submits to a search of his or her person. They strip naked (except for Miss Claythorne) and are searched for any weapon. Mr. Justice Wargrave then takes the collected drugs and medicines into a small case, which he then puts into a cabinet. He locks both and gives the key to the case to Lombard and the key to the cabinet to Blore, reasoning that since they are the strongest physically, one would be able to stop the other from obtaining the other key if one is the murderer. They then decide to search for the revolver, but Blore tells them that he thinks he knows where the syringe might be. He goes into the dining room and finds another broken Indian figure. The syringe is next to it. They search the house for the revolver, but find nothing.


These chapters represent a turning point in the novel. To this point, there had been a loose unity of all the guests focused towards discovering who might be behind the deaths occurring on the island. In these chapters, the characters begin to turn on each other. Christie here explores the base nature of human instinct. She wants to explore the limits of human behavior. There is an underlying suspense; it is not just a matter of worrying over who the killer’s next victim will be, but it is also suspenseful wondering if the guests on the island will turn on each other.

The conversations between each character over who they believe to be the murderer play important roles in developing a suspenseful point of view in the novel. These conversations serve to highlight the less desirable traits of each character before the reader has a chance to identify fully with any particular one. For instance, if the reader is starting to become sympathetic to Judge Wargrave, Lombard’s suggestion of Wargrave’s desire to play God reminds the reader that Wargrave has his own character defects. In order for the ending of the novel to satisfy the reader, there must be full indignation towards the murderer.

Three devices of the detective genre are on display in the characters’ conversations during these chapters. The first is the concept of disguise. Each murder in the detective genre must be disguised in some way in order to heighten its mystery. In this case, each murder occurs with no clues as to who could have done them. At this point, the most likely suspect seems to be Dr. Armstrong since he is the only character with access to medicines that might kill a person. This is unsure, however, since no one saw Armstrong deliver the fatal doses. In addition, anyone could have caused the deaths of General Macarthur and Mr. Rogers.

The disguise principle can also apply to the murderer. The murderer will disguise him or herself in order to conceal their true identity. In And Then There Were None, the murderer admits in the final chapter that he was born with an innate desire to cause suffering. While on the island, however, this nature is disguised behind a mask of respectability.

This involves a second common formula of the genre, which is that the murderer will often hide behind function. The murderer often plays the role of protector, or professional, in the novel. Function is necessary because the reader needs the killer to be somewhat at odds with his or her essential nature. In the novel, the killer hides behind a mask of professionalism. Though this does not automatically preclude the murderer from suspicion, it does function to help the killer in his work. The reader will find out that this is the case here, as the murderer is later able to persuade Dr. Armstrong to help him because Armstrong trusts his higher-class professional background.

The third device is that the murderer will often play the role of investigator. This is especially true here. The murderer in And Then There Were None becomes the lead investigator and in fact leads the assembled guests through conversations of logical reasoning in order to preclude anyone from guilt. This convention of the genre can be traced back in literature to the ancient Greek tragedy of Oedipus Rex, when Oedipus the King leads the investigation into Laius’s death only to learn that he is the murderer. This convention works in the mind of the reader because it would seem unlikely that the killer would want to direct a search for him or herself. This investigation, however, only causes the disguise to become more effective since the other characters, as well as the reader, become less suspicious of those that direct any investigation.