Murder on the Orient Express
by Agatha Christie
Murder on the Orient Express Theme of Good and Evil
Let's get one thing straight: Ratchett, the villainous kidnapper and murderer, is an evil, evil, EVIL man. Like, really evil. Poirot sees it the first minute he lays eyes on Ratchett. Weirdly enough, the detective can tell just by looking at him. This tells us that, although the novel presents many confusing situations and riddles to be solved, Christie's tale is set in a world of unambiguous, black and white morality. While justice may be kind of hard to figure out, we know evil when we see it. Or at least, Poirot does. We should also note that Ratchett's evil is often contrasted with the innocence of his victim – the child he kidnapped, Daisy Armstrong.
Questions About Good and Evil
- If Daisy Armstrong is pure good and Ratchett is pure evil, where do the other characters fall on the spectrum of good to evil?
- Does anyone in the novel think Ratchett should not have been killed?
- How does the fact that Ratchett is such a flat character influence our experience of the story? How might the story be different if he weren't all bad?
Chew on This
This novel expresses a lack of faith in the real-world criminal justice system.
Understanding human nature means realizing that good and evil is not always a black and white affair.