And Then There Were None

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General John Gordon Macarthur Character Analysis

A general in World War I, he is the oldest guest on the island and is suspected of intentionally sending a lieutenant, Arthur Richmond, to his death. Macarthur did this when he learned that Richmond was having an affair with his life. Macarthur's guilty conscience has always left him with the feeling that his fellow veterans know about his dark past and he separated himself from his Army friends after the war ended. His wife also died soon after the war and he has been lonely and weary since then. Once he gets to Soldier Island, he realizes that he is tired of life and the effort that it takes to live with his secret, and is ready to die.

General John Gordon Macarthur Quotes in And Then There Were None

The And Then There Were None quotes below are all either spoken by General John Gordon Macarthur or refer to General John Gordon Macarthur. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
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). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Harper edition of And Then There Were None published in 2011.
Chapter 5 Quotes

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.

Related Characters: General John Gordon Macarthur (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Island
Page Number: 86
Explanation and Analysis:

After the first murder, the characters retire to their rooms and reflect on their feelings of guilt. Macarthur curiously decides that despite the impending danger he does not want to leave the island.

Once more, Christie uses the physical geography of the novel to give the reader access to the psychology of the characters. Just like Vera found the sea to be cruel, Macarthur finds the island calming because it provides a symbolic “end of things.” This image implies that the island forces characters to confront their guilt and their pasts: By placing them in a closed space, it offers no alternative routes and no progress in which one could go “any farther.” It thus functions like a physical manifestation of the last judgment of which the old man on the train spoke.

Though many might consider this "entrapment" to be an unpleasant feature of an island, Macarthur finds in it a source of solace or freedom. His professed wish not to “leave the island” thus reflects a sense of wanting to escape his guilt, of wanting to receive the punishment that his guilt tells him he deserves and that will, at the same time, free him from that guilt forever. Christie thus shows how the host's murderous activities, for all their cruelty, do offer a certain moral and poetic justice.

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Chapter 6 Quotes

We're not going to leave the island … None of us will ever leave … It's the end, you see – the end of everything …”
He hesitated, then he said in a low strange voice:
“That's peace – real peace. To come to the end – not to have to go on … Yes, peace …”

Related Characters: General John Gordon Macarthur (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Island
Page Number: 103
Explanation and Analysis:

When Lombard and Blore discuss the potential arrival of a motorboat, Macarthur makes this pronouncement. He believes they will all die on Soldiers Island.

This passage shows the bizarre psychological effect that the events on Soldiers Island have on different characters. Whereas some try to staunchly defy their imminent demise, Macarthur accepts his fate. His tone here is not one of desperation: Rather, his “low strange voice” implies a calm acceptance of what will transpire. Indeed, he comes to see his demise as a form of “peace”: a peace not just from life but more specifically from the guilty existence he has lived since committing his murder. Though some may interpret these beliefs to be the manic ravings of the psychologically disturbed, they also imply that Macarthur is coming to terms with his own guilt. Thus Christie presents the story as a tale of repentance for these characters, in which the bizarre set-up of Soldier’s Island forces them to reconcile with their crimes.

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General John Gordon Macarthur Character Timeline in And Then There Were None

The timeline below shows where the character General John Gordon Macarthur appears in And Then There Were None. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
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General Macarthur, in another train car, thinks about the trip he's on to Soldier Island, where he... (full context)
Chapter 2
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General Macarthur decides he wants to leave the island, but the motorboat has left so he'll have... (full context)
Chapter 4
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General Macarthur explains that he sent a man, Arthur Richmond, on a reconnaissance mission during the War... (full context)
Chapter 5
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General Macarthur cannot fall asleep because he keeps thinking of Richmond. Macarthur had loved his wife, Leslie,... (full context)
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Macarthur wonders whether anyone believed the accusation and then thinks that it is impossible that the... (full context)
Chapter 6
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...shim about 7 or 8am, but that it is now 9:50am. Everyone is silent until Macarthur all of a sudden tells Rogers that he is sorry to hear about his wife. (full context)
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...arriving. Blore thinks that it is not an accident that it hasn't come and then Macarthur jumps in the conversation and says that the boat will never come. He continues by... (full context)
Chapter 8
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...ends up being quite simple. Towards the end of their search they run into General Macarthur looking at the sea. He pays no attention to them and looks rather dazed. Macarthur... (full context)
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...a death sentence upon Edward Seton. Vera goes down to the sea where she meets Macarthur. Macarthur tells her that he is waiting for the end, and that none of them... (full context)
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Macarthur says that he loved his wife Leslie very much and then admits that this is... (full context)
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...Lombard has gone to test some theory. Armstrong tells Blore that he is worried that Macarthur has gone crazy. Blore agrees, but says that doesn't mean that Macarthur is the murderer.... (full context)
Chapter 9
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...storm is coming. Vera apologizes for coming in late, but Miss Brent responds that General Macarthur still has not come. Armstrong volunteers to go get Macarthur when Vera says he is... (full context)
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After everyone has been eating for a bit Armstrong comes running and shouts that General Macarthur is—and Vera finishes his sentence—“Dead!” (full context)
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As the men come back in with Macarthur's body, the storm breaks. Vera goes into the dining room, followed soon after by Rogers.... (full context)
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Armstrong says that Macarthur was killed by being hit with a life preserver. Wargrave now takes over the conversation.... (full context)
Chapter 10
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...two of the deaths have both been by poison. And she thinks that he killed Macarthur when he went down to call him to lunch. She also says that he is... (full context)
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...her Bible but then puts it down and writes in her diary. She writes that Macarthur has been killed and that the judge has convinced her that the murderer is in... (full context)
Epilogue 1
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...an overdose of chloral, Rogers head was split open, Blore's head was crushed, Armstrong drowned, Macarthur's skull was fractured, and Vera was hanged. (full context)
Epilogue 2
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...his victims. He heard about Armstrong while at a nursing home. He heard about General Macarthur from a conversation with two old military gossips in his Club. He selected Marston from... (full context)
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Macarthur did not hear Wargrave sneak up behind him and his death was quite painless. Wargrave... (full context)