Study Guide

Murder on the Orient Express Foreignness and 'the Other'

By Agatha Christie

Foreignness and 'the Other'

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.

Questions About Foreignness and 'the Other'

  1. Do any of the characters seem aware of or embarrassed about their prejudices?
  2. What does Poirot mean by an "Anglo-Saxon brain"?
  3. Though the train runs through Syria, Turkey, and Yugo-Slavia, we never meet any passengers who are Syrian, Turkish, or Czech. Why do you think that is?
  4. Why do the passengers pretend to be so prejudiced against people from other countries? How do those attitudes help cover the truth of the murder?
  5. Does the novel endorse or reject stereotypes based on country of origin?

Chew on This

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.

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