Study Guide

And Then There Were None Isolation

By Agatha Christie

Isolation

Rogers said:

“I beg your pardon sir, but there’s no boat on the island.” (4.119-120)

If you’ve ever watched any horror movie, this is about the point where you start seriously considering swimming back to the mainland. Tip #1: always have an escape plan. That’s right up there with “never go off alone.”

It made life lonely, though. He’d taken to shunning his old Army friends. (5.118)

Macarthur’s crime might not have put him in jail, but it’s definitely ruined his life and imposed solitude on him. He can’t even hang out with his old friends anymore because he’s afraid that they know what he did. We get it. Sometimes we’re afraid that our friends will look into our eyes and know the truth: we didn’t put pants on until 5pm today.

He thought: Best of an island is once you get there—you can’t go any farther... you’ve come to the end of things…

He knew, suddenly, that he didn’t want to leave the island. (5.131)

Macarthur sees the island as a reprieve: he’s just tired of living a lie. For him, there’s nothing better than a (mostly) deserted island where he can spend all his time thinking about what a bad, bad man he is.

“The abandoned creature, not content with having one sin on her conscience, committed a still graver sin. She took her own life.” (7.61)

Way harsh, Emily. Miss Brent clearly sees no problem with abandoning people at their lowest hour. There’s a reason she’s on this island, after all.

Vera said:

“Alone—alone —” and the echo of her voice came back to her from the rocks. (8.136)

Talk about isolated: Vera is so alone that she has to talk to the rocks. She’s about one step away from drawing a face on a volleyball.

There was no one on the island but their eight selves. (8.251)

Okay, we love this. Check out exactly how Christie describes it: “their eight selves.” Somehow, sticking that number in between the “their” and the “selves” emphasizes exactly how isolated they are—so isolated that you could count them on two hands.

How very quiet the house was. And yet—it didn’t seem like an empty house…

Hugo, upstairs, waiting for her… (16.119-120)

Vera manages to hold it together right until she’s alone, when all her demons finally come out. And this time there is no one around to stop her from giving in to them.

It’s over a mile to the coast and there were heavy seas and big breakers inshore. And there were a lot of people, boy scouts and others on the cliffs looking out towards the island and watching. (E.42)

Clever, clever. When he picked the site for his master plan, Wargrave made sure that Soldier Island was isolated and unreachable so that police couldn’t assume that someone just left the island after killing everyone. Remember, we’re talking perfect crime: it had to be more mysterious than that.

And now came the moment that I had anticipated—three people who were so frightened of each other that anything might happen—and one of them had a revolver. (E.185)

Lombard, Blore, and Vera are all properly horrified by the increasing isolation of the island, but it’s all fun and games to Wargrave. That’s pretty sick, dude.

I have, let me confess it in all humility, a pitiful human wish that someone should know just how clever I have been… (E.195)

Wargrave may have lone wolf tendencies, but, like any great artist, he craves recognition from the world. Back in the early 20th century, the best he could do was stick a letter in a bottle; today, you know he’d be releasing some viral video on YouTube.