Study Guide

And Then There Were None Memory and the Past

By Agatha Christie

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Memory and the Past

He had even complimented her on her presence of mind and courage, she remembered. For an inquest it couldn’t have gone better. And Mrs. Hamilton had been kindness itself to her—only Hugo—but she wouldn’t think of Hugo. (1.16)

Vera literally cannot spend a moment alone without her thoughts going immediately to Cyril’s death and to Hugo. We feel you, Vera. Whenever we have a spare minute, our thoughts turn to Flappy Bird.

The Sister knew, of course- but she held her tongue. God, it gave me a shock! Pulled me up. But who could have known about it—after all these years? (4.101)

When the gramophone voice comes on, Dr. Armstrong is all, “who, me?” But inside, he’s reliving the entire operating-while-drink incident.

And all so long ago. So—so purposeless now. Leslie had faded into the distance and Arthur Richmond too. Nothing of what happened seemed to matter anymore. (5.117)

Hindsight is 20/20—and from this distance, the whole kerfuffle with his wife and his wife’s lover seems like NBD to Macarthur. Too bad he couldn’t take that attitude when it happened—his present might look a lot different.

Dr. Armstrong was dreaming…

It was very hot in the operating room… (6.1-2)

Wargrave’s particular brand of psychosis involves making everyone relive their experiences before killing them. Like Miss Brent, Dr. Armstrong can’t get away from some pretty terrifying dreams when he falls asleep.

“I don’t now. I—don’t know. It was all different, you see. I don’t know if Leslie ever guessed… I don’t think so. But, you see, I didn’t know about her anymore. She’d gone far away where I couldn’t reach her. And then she died—and I was alone…” (8.134)

For someone who spends a lot of time feeling guilty, General Macarthur sure has hazy memories about that time—almost as though his crime wasn’t actually worth it.

She looked down at the notebook. With an angry exclamation she scored through the vague unevenly scrawled characters of the last sentence. (10.110)

Oh, look at that: Miss Brent might actually be thinking of Beatrice again. Don’t worry, though—not for long. Scratching through those characters is a pretty clear sign that she’s not interested in reliving the past.

Why think of that now? All that was over—over… Cyril had disappeared long before she got near the rock. She had felt the current take her, sweeping her out to sea. (11.141)

Poor Vera. More than almost any other character, she just can’t stop thinking about Cyril. We’re sure it doesn’t help that Wargrave chose an island for his little game—probably specifically to drive Vera crazy.

Last night she had dreamed of Beatrice—dreamt that she was outside pressing her face against the window and moaning, asking to be let in. (11.161)

Yeah, Miss Brent may be thinking about Beatrice again, but we’re pretty sure that if Beatrice showed up right now, Emily would just slam that window down on her fingers.

She shivered as she remembered that cold clammy touch on her neck. (14.90)

Much like your friend who just can’t get over the fact that Clay Aiken came in second (seriously, get over it already), Vera just can’t stop obsessing about Cyril’s death. Even the seaweed triggers memories for her.

Vera Claythorne hanged herself before my eyes where I stood in the shadow of the wardrobe. (E.187)

This is a pretty grim sight, but something tells us that this death isn’t going to haunt Wargrave.

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