In Agatha Cristie's And Then There Were None, why did each character get invited to Indian Island?

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Tamara K. H. eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Agatha Christie's craftily written mystery thriller "And Then There Were None," there is a discrepancy between the reasons why each guest thinks he or she has been invited to Indian Island, just off the coast of England, and the real reason why.

Seven characters believe they have been hired for positions on the Island: (1) Vera Claythorne believes she has been hired  by an Una Nancy Owen for a "secretarial holiday post," a position she had strongly hoped to acquire to escape all of the past work she has had to do with children as a governess; (2) Miss Emily Brent believes she has been hired as a cook for a new summer guest house; (3) Captain Philip Lombard believes he has been hired by a mysterious client to do something mysterious and possibly illegal while on the island, for the sum of 100 guineas; (4) Dr. Armstrong, a physician who specializes in treating female patients, thinks he has been hired to treat the property owner's wife; (5) Mr. Blore thinks he has been hired as a private detective to investigate the island; and (6) and (7) Mr. and Mrs. Rogers believe they have been hired as a husband and wife servant pair. Two other characters believe they have been invited to the island for a social holiday, General Macarthur and Anthony Marston. Plus, we are also led to believe that retired Justice Wargrave has been invited on a social holiday.

However, once all the guests are settled in, after dinner, they all hear that they have been invited to the island by a Mr. Owen none of them know, and while seated in the drawing room, they hear a voice say, "You are charged with the following indictments," which proceeds to list deaths each guest was responsible for. The voice proves to be a recording on a record playing on the gramophone in the other room. Since none of the guests know Mr. Owen, they begin speculating that they were all brought together as part of someone's plan to incriminate them.

Later, when Judge Wargrave's letter is found in a bottle, we learn Wargrave's confession that he brought all the guests to the island for two different reasons. First, as a man born with a "definitely sadistic delight in seeing or causing death" and a judge who presided over many murder cases, he suddenly found himself with an intense desire to commit a murder on a grand scale. Second, he was aware that many murders could not be tried in a court of law for lack of evidence. Hence, he brought all the guests to the island in order to murder all who had caused the wrongful deaths of others as a means of upholding justice.