The Murder of Roger Ackroyd

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The Murder of Roger Ackroyd Chapter 18 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
In Liverpool, Dr. Sheppard and Poirot meet with Inspector Raglan, who wants Sheppard to identify Charles Kent. When Raglan first sees Poirot, he admits that Poirot was right: the fingerprints on the knife were Roger Ackroyd’s own.
Raglan confirms Poirot’s observation and, at the same time, the fact that Poirot is a much cleverer, more intelligent detective than anyone on the police force.
Themes
Secrecy and the Universal Capacity for Violence Theme Icon
Detection and Intellect Theme Icon
Raglan brings Dr. Sheppard and Poirot to meet Charles Kent. Kent is a young man, and as Sheppard stares at him, he finds it difficult to tell if Kent is, indeed, the man he saw on Friday. But when Kent speaks, Sheppard nods and tells Raglan and Poirot that this is the stranger he saw. Kent claims that he was nowhere near Fernly on Friday, but Poirot produces the quill he found in the summerhouse, and Kent holds out his hand, almost reflexively. Poirot says that Kent dropped this quill. Kent doesn’t deny this, but he insists that he couldn’t have killed Roger Ackroyd: he left around 9:25 and was at a local saloon by 9:45. Poirot asks Kent if he was born in Kent. Kent angrily denies this, and demands to know why Poirot would ask such a question. Poirot doesn’t answer.
As in earlier chapters, it’s not always clear why Poirot is asking his suspects certain questions. He asks Kent about the quill in order to determine if he’d been to the summerhouse (and thus if he’d met anyone there)—but there seems to be no obvious reason why Poirot would need to inquire about Kent’s last name (although later it’s revealed that this is connected to his status as an illegitimate child). Part of the charm of Poirot, and of Christie’s novel in general, is that Poirot doesn’t always explain why he does what he does—however, he usually explains everything in the final chapters of the book.
Themes
Secrecy and the Universal Capacity for Violence Theme Icon
Detection and Intellect Theme Icon
Gossip and Small Town Life Theme Icon
Alone, Poirot, Raglan, and Dr. Sheppard discuss the possibility that Charles Kent was the blackmailer. However, Raglan insists that Kent couldn’t have been the killer. He asks Poirot why he asked Kent about his birth, and Poirot merely says that he has “a little idea.” Afterwards, Poirot and Dr. Sheppard dine in a hotel. Sheppard wonders what Charles Kent could have been doing at Fernly, and Poirot admits he doesn’t know. Nevertheless, he says, he still has his little idea.
Poirot’s talk with Kent has been productive, apparently: Kent has given him an idea that he didn’t have before. However, he doesn’t tell Dr. Sheppard what this idea might be.
Themes
Secrecy and the Universal Capacity for Violence Theme Icon
Detection and Intellect Theme Icon