How did the characters of Ten Little Indians die? 

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durbanville | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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Agatha Christie's mystery novel, Ten Little Indians, meets all the requirements of a detective thriller such as readers have come to expect of her. The characters are strangers when they meet on a, conveniently, isolated island off the coast of England. They do however all have one fatal flaw which is what has apparently brought them all together.

As the characters travel to the island, Vera Claythorn foreshadows what is to follow as she “shivered faintly.”  Shortly after arriving on the island and after dinner, the guests are intimated in the deaths of other people, for which they have, seemingly, perfectly acceptable explanations.

In the unlikely group's bedrooms is the nursery rhyme "Ten Little Indians"  which is referred to at various stages throughout the novel. Nursery rhymes usually have sinister tales to tell under the guise of innocence.

One by one the visitors are murdered and the remaining visitors frantically search for clues before their own predictable death.  Anthony Marston is the first to die - poisoned. That evening Mrs Rogers dies in her sleep from a supposed accidental overdose of a sleeping draught. Having declared that it is unlikely that anyone will leave the island alive, General MacArthur dies from a blow to the head.

As the characters become more paranoid, Rogers goes missing and is found dead in the woodshed - struck by an axe. Emily Brent dies next from an injection in her neck - which looks like a sting but the needle is soon located proving it was a lethal injection.

Left alone, Judge Wargrave dies from a shot in the head, followed by Blore who is found on the terrace crushed by a clock. After discovering Armstrong has drowned Vera and Lombard fear the other and Vera shoots Lombard with his own revolver after which she hangs herself.

In a twist characteristic of Christie, Wargrove had faked his own death but does kill himself in the same fashion as he appeared to have been killed.



 

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