Dr. Sheppard is the novel’s narrator, a seemingly genial, trustworthy, thorough chronicler of the story. That he ultimately turns out to be the killer is the novel’s greatest irony. As a doctor, his job is to preserve life, but he saves no lives in the novel. Instead, he is responsible for Ackroyd’s murder, indirectly responsible for Mrs. Ferrars’ suicide, and ultimately responsible for his own suicide – a considerable loss of life, and a poor track record for a doctor. The reader takes Dr. Sheppard’s innocence for granted during the novel and bestows on him an implicit trust. So too does Poirot. However, Poirot’s objectivity allows him to discover the truth of Dr. Sheppard’s guilt.
Finding Ralph Paton
Ralph Paton’s disappearance after his uncle’s murder is a great source of confusion and mystery. The suspicion that falls on Ralph is exacerbated by the fact that he cannot be found. Finding Ralph becomes a major goal for everyone involved in the mystery with the understanding that his discovery will, no matter what, help explain at least some of the mystery. Either he will be proven guilty of the crime or he will help explain what happened. Ironically, though, his discovery only deepens the mystery. He adds no clarity to what happened. He claims he didn’t kill his uncle, but he also admits that he has no alibi for the time after his meeting with Ursula – he wandered around alone, and no one can corroborate that. Finding Ralph, then, although it was a major goal for the investigators and Poirot, is not the key to solving the mystery.
Flora Ackroyd lives at Fernly Park thanks to the generosity of her uncle – she completely depends on him for her financial survival. Ironically, though, the money and support he lends her only make her feel more trapped, forced to rely entirely on his whims for her well-being. His death actually represents freedom to Flora, as the massive inheritance he gives her lets her truly have financial independence for the first time in her life. It is ironic that her benefactor’s death is actually what Flora benefits from the most.
The Murder of Roger Ackroyd Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for The Murder of Roger Ackroyd is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.