Linnet’s pearl necklace is, on the most basic level, a signal that her character is extremely wealthy. She is seen wearing them the night she is murdered, and they are missing when her body is discovered, opening up the possibility that her killing was a robbery. Like Linnet herself, the pearls are dazzling, even as they inspire resentment from some of the other characters. The pearls embodied Linnet’s luck in life, but they also made her a target. It’s no accident that Jacqueline’s pistol also has pearl inlaid in its handle—through this physical echo of Linnet’s pearls, Jacqueline’s pistol highlights both the beauty and dangers of such wealth. It’s also worth noting that even though it turns out that Linnet was not specifically killed for her pearls, she was killed for what they symbolize—Simon was hoping to inherit her wealth, which the pearls represent.
Later in the novel, the pearls play a different but related role. After discovering that Tim has been working as jewelry forger, and has in fact forged Linnet’s pearls, Poirot gives Tim the opportunity to return the stolen pearls and change his life rather than face charges. Once again, the pearls are portrayed as both desirable and dangerous, but they also here represent the purity or innocence that is a typical symbolic meaning assigned to pearls. By giving up on the seductive promise of wealth offered by the pearls. Tim rediscovers his innocence and the chance at love with Rosalie.
In Death on the Nile, the pearls represent wealth and beauty, the seductive dangers of pursuing such things, and ultimately the promise inherent in giving up that pursuit.
Pearls Quotes in Death on the Nile
Hercule Poirot nodded his head.
“You did not look. But I, I have the eyes which notice, and there were no pearls on the table beside the bed this morning.”
Finally he turned his attention to the washstand. There were various creams, powders, face lotions. But the only thing that seemed to interest Poirot were two little bottles labelled Nailex. He picked them up at last and brought them to the dressing table. One, which bore the inscription Nailex Rose, was empty but for a drop or two of dark red fluid at the bottom. The other, the same size, but labelled Nailex Cardinal, was nearly full. Poirot uncorked first the empty, then the full one, and sniffed them both delicately.
The body of the dead woman, who in life had been Louise Bourget, lay on the floor of her cabin. The two men bent over it.
Race straightened himself first.
“Been dead close on an hour, I should say. We’ll get Bessner on to it. Stabbed to the heart. Death pretty well instantaneous, I should imagine. She doesn’t look pretty, does she?”
Poirot shook his head with a slight shudder.
The dark feline face was convulsed, as though with surprise and fury, the lips drawn back from the teeth.
Poirot bent again gently and picked up the right hand. Something just showed within the fingers. He detached it and held it out to Race, a little sliver of flimsy paper coloured a pale mauvish pink.
“You see what it is?”
“Money,” said Race.
“The corner of a thousand-franc note, I fancy.”
“Well, sir, where do we go from here? I admit taking the pearls from Linnet’s cabin and you’ll find them just where you say they are. I’m guilty all right. But as far as Miss Southwood is concerned, I’m not admitting anything. You’ve no evidence whatever against her. How I got hold of the fake necklace is my own business.”
Poirot murmured: “A very correct attitude.”