And Then There Were None

Pdf fan Tap here to download this LitChart! (PDF)

The Island Symbol Analysis

The Island Symbol Icon
The island is more than the setting of the novel. It also, like the storm, sets the characters is a space apart from the world. In this isolated space the typical rules of law and civilization no loner hold any sway.

The Island Quotes in And Then There Were None

The And Then There Were None quotes below all refer to the symbol of The Island. 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:
Justice Theme Icon
). 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 1 Quotes

Definitely Soldiers Island was news!

Related Characters: Justice Wargrave (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Island
Page Number: 2
Explanation and Analysis:

As the story begins, Justice Wargrave is in transit to Soldiers Island. While browsing the newspaper, he thinks of the various times he has read of the destination before.

Wargrave’s comment that the island "was news" establishes the relative notoriety of the destination. What is to come in the text, then, will not take place in an anonymous or blank space, but rather in a destination already associated with stories and scandals. In this way, the setting mirrors the unscrupulous lives of the characters, making it the perfect symbolic site for the murders. Indeed, that the island “was news” foreshadows how their story will itself become a part of Soldiers Island’s infamous narrative.

Furthermore, this line shows that Wargrave has read extensively about the setting of the novel. He evidently has a body of knowledge about the island that other characters lack. Although this information might seem to present him as a trustworthy character, the careful reader should be suspicious of his mastery of the space. Christie here foreshadows how Wargrave will be more capable and more in control of the events to come.

A+

Unlock explanations and citation info for this and every other And Then There Were None quote.

Plus so much more...

Get LitCharts A+
Already a LitCharts A+ member? Sign in!
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.

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.

Chapter 7 Quotes

“I mean – it explains Soldier Island. There are crimes that cannot be brought home to their perpetrators. Instance the Rogerses'. Another instance, old Wargrave, who committed his murder strictly within the law.”

Related Characters: Philip Lombard (speaker), Justice Wargrave, Thomas Rogers, Ethel Rogers
Related Symbols: The Island
Page Number: 114
Explanation and Analysis:

With Dr. Armstrong, Lombard reviews the information on the visitors to the island. He concludes that everyone who was invited is guilty of some form of murder.

Lombard articulates, here, the unifying concept for the island and for Christie’s text. He is thus the first character to be an effective detective, providing a model for the reader to follow as we take on a similar investigating role. Like any good reader, Lombard first reviews the information available to him and then makes a final pronouncement—“it explains”—that can connect all the threads of information.

The common feature for those who have been invited to the island deserves some consideration: The guests are not just murderers but rather ones whose crimes resist traditional methods of prosecution. They cannot be tried in normal courtrooms and thus the island becomes itself a pseudo-courtroom—a place where culpability is punished in a way that normal social regulations do not permit. Christie thus complicates the ethics of the ensuing murders, casting them as cruel but also as providing a form of vigilante justice that could not be dealt out elsewhere in society.

Get the entire And Then There Were None LitChart as a printable PDF.
And then there were none.pdf.medium