Typically for a traditional English whodunit, the book has a gallery of stereotypical characters commonplace to the genre. Roger Ackroyd is a standard victim: someone the reader scarcely gets to know before the murder, a man to whom the reader has formed little attachment. What little Christie tells about him is largely unfavorable: He is wealthy but stingy, and though he respects the law, he lacks compassion, even when it comes to the woman he plans to marry. Then there are the servants—Bourne, Parker, Russell—who have pasts they are trying to hide. In addition, there are family members who dislike the victim and would benefit from his death. For example, Ralph Paton, Ackroyd’s twenty-five-year-old stepson, is a dissolute gambler who is alienated from his father but dependent upon him for support. Mrs. Cecil Ackroyd and Flora also are dependent upon the largesse of a man they dislike and thus crave release from what they regard as a lamentable situation. Still another standard character-type present here is a mysterious stranger, Charles Kent, who is revealed to be connected to at least one person in the household.
The major characters in the novel are Poirot and Sheppard, and even they are stereotypical. The former is in the tradition of Sherlock Holmes: a self-centered, eccentric, but brilliant detective who utilizes his powers of ratiocination in order to solve crimes. A small but dignified man of advanced age, he speaks with a cultivated...
(The entire section is 552 words.)