A jury is made up of twelve citizens who walk into a courtroom and decide whether a defendant is guilty or innocent. <em>Murder on the Orient Express</em> plays with the same idea. There are twelve people on the train who act as jury and executioner of a criminal. Justice is served in a way that it wasn't guaranteed in the courts. Justice is often juxtaposed with revenge in this novel, forcing us to think about the ways in which the two are similar and different.
When it comes to justice, an eye should be given for an eye.
It was wrong of Poirot, at the beginning of the novel, to refuse to help Ratchett solely on the basis of Ratchett's appearance.
Dr. Constantine and M. Bouc made the right decision when they decided not to tell the truth to the police.
Reason and logic are detective Hercule Poirot's weapons of choice. Poirot relies upon his insight into human nature, his powers of observation, and the deductive method in order to get to the truth of things. As you will notice, he is always careful in advancing his points and never makes false assumptions. In this way, the novel offers us an example of incredibly sound judgment. Poirot, after all, does unravel the complicated plot in the end. We might also say that though the novel is about a murder, it is optimistic in that it has great faith in the power of orderly reason to resolve complicated problems – and to see through to the truth of things.
Reason and logic don't come naturally to any of the characters in the novel, except for Poirot.
While we can think our way through some things, life is not lived solely in the head.
Though <em>Murder on the Orient Express</em> is set on a train hurtling across Europe, America plays a central role in the novel. The Armstrong household, which existed in America, is temporarily recreated on the Orient Express. Additionally, we're constantly getting different views of the country from its cast of characters, including stereotypes galore. The Europeans have strong opinions about the Americans, and the Americans have strong opinions about the Europeans. At least, that's how they present their views to Poirot as he's working on the Ratchett murder case.
America, as portrayed in <em>Murder on the Orient Express</em>, is a land of opportunity and freedom.
Although the plot of this story has to do with America, it could not have been effective if it were set in America.
The cast of characters riding the Orient Express is incredibly diverse – and nearly every passenger has a pretty firm opinion about everyone else. The French suspect the Italians, the British are at odds with the Americans, and so forth. Many of the views are bigoted or prejudiced, but remember that most of the passengers are putting on an act in an attempt to cover up the murder that they <em>all</em> participate in. In this sense, they are adopting stereotypes about other countries in order to play their parts more effectively.
Poirot would have solved the mystery [more/less] easily if he had not relied on stereotypes about different cultures.
Your home country says quite a bit about your values and your character.
This novel is one big lie! Poirot eventually discovers that all of the characters in it are putting him on and acting out their parts to cover up the murder. But wait. Aren't all novels made up? Such is the nature of fiction. <em>Murder on the Orient Express</em> very interestingly aligns fiction writing with lies and deceit. Notice the many references to playacting and literature. It asks us to think about the differences between the two – and the similarities.
In this book, lying, like murder, is justified if it's for a good cause.
Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction.
One of the most fascinating aspects of Christie's novels is the period in which they are set: usually the years between the two World Wars. The world is changing rapidly during this time. There are new technologies, advances in science, and world-altering discoveries. Christie's novels give you a glimpse of this period, and new modern conveniences (and inconveniences) are important to the plot. In <em>Murder on the Orient Express</em>, the modern train plays an important role. However, the lack of modern communication tools and contact with the outside as a result of a snowstorm actually helps Poirot solve the murder.
If the Orient Express hadn't stopped moving, no one would have ever discovered the real plot to kill Ratchett.
Though we live in an increasingly modern world, human nature remains the same.
That whole "things are not always what they seem" thing goes double for <em>Murder on the Orient Express</em>. Since we know the murder was committed by someone on the train car, we know that someone must be lying. But, as we eventually find out, almost <em>everyone</em> on the train was lying. It's as though everything that happens on the train is a play being acted out by the conspirators. Of course, it's not really a play, as it involves a real-life murder. Fortunately, our detective, Hercule Poirot, judges appearances remarkably well. His keen eye for observation reveals the cracks in the surface of the conspirators' facade.
The passengers underestimate Hercule Poirot because of his appearance.
The novel suggests that people should never judge based on appearances.
Let's get one thing straight: Ratchett, the villainous kidnapper and murderer, is an evil, <em>evil</em>, <em>EVIL</em> man. Like, <em>really</em> 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.
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.
Poirot is world famous for the strength of his "little grey cells" and his skill of detection. In <em>Murder on the Orient Express</em>, though, Poirot is up against some pretty strong and skilled minds. There's the Russian Princess Dragomiroff, who has an iron will; Mary Debenham, who is cool, cold, and rational; and we can't forget the famous actress, Linda Arden, who plays the role of Mrs. Hubbard with great gusto. Who's mind is the best them all?
The passengers would have displayed greater strength if they had been able to resist taking revenge on Ratchett.
Strength of mind is the supreme virtue.