Study Guide

Mr. Ratchett / Cassetti in Murder on the Orient Express

By Agatha Christie

Mr. Ratchett / Cassetti

If ever there were a no-goodnik in the genre of British mystery, Mr. Samuel Edward Ratchett is it. He's a mobster, a kidnapper of children, a murderer, and basically just an all-around monster of a person. In fact, he's the one person in this novel that we know is straight-up evil. How? Because nearly everyone in the novel says so, about a hundred different times, and about a hundred different ways. Don't believe us? Check this out:

Poirot: "But I could not rid myself of the impression that evil had passed me by very close." (1.2.56)

MacQueen: "I'll tell you the truth, Mr. Poirot. I disliked and distrusted him. He was, I am sure, a cruel and a dangerous man. I must admit, though, that I have no reasons to advance for my opinion." (1.6.102)

M. Bouc: "Ah! Quel animal! … I cannot regret that he is dead – not at all!" (1.8.16)

MacQueen: "If ever a man deserved what he got, Ratchett or Cassetti is the man. I'm rejoiced at his end. Such a man wasn't fit to live!" (2.2.13)

Greta Ohlsson: "That there are in the world such evil men! It tries one's faith. The poor mother. My heart aches for her." (2.5.59)

Princess Dragomiroff: "In my view, then, this murder is an entirely admirable happening!" (2.6.90)

Colonel Arbuthnot: "Then in my opinion the swine deserved what he got." (2.8.88)

Greta Ohlsson: "I did so rejoice that that evil man was dead – that he could not any more kill or torture little children. Ah! I cannot speak – I have no words…" (3.8.46)

Mrs. Hubbard/Linda Arden: "I would have stabbed that man twelve times willingly." (3.9.83)

Seriously. We get it. Ratchett is rotten to the core. We mean, he kidnapped and murdered an innocent little girl, and therefore symbolizes, at least in Christie's universe, the ultimate evil villain. If we weren't sure of it before, the novel pounds this into our head over and over: the guy is unequivocally horrible and a total threat to society. (If he did it once, he could do it again, right?)

Ratchett's guilt is never in question. What the novel wants us to think about, then, is whether or not civilians – the Armstrong family and friends – should take it upon themselves to bring such an evil man to justice.

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