Murder on the Orient Express

Murder on the Orient Express

by

Agatha Christie

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Murder on the Orient Express: Part 2 Chapter 10 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Poirot observes that his friend M. Bouc will be delighted to call the Italian passenger, Antonio Foscarelli, because M. Bouc sees him as a prime suspect. Interviewing Antonio, Poirot has to make an effort to keep him on topic, as he is prone to digression. Antonio is “not a man who had to have information dragged from him” and he volunteers that he has spent many years in America as a salesman.
Whereas extracting information from Arbuthnot was painful, Poirot has the opposite problem with Antonio, as he offers up irrelevant information. Antonio’s talkativeness plays into a stereotype of Italians. M. Bouc, of course, has already decided on Antonio’s guilt based on his nationality.
Themes
National Identity and International Connections Theme Icon
Detective Methods and Inner Lives Theme Icon
Antonio largely confirms the story of his roommate, Masterman the valet, but in the process scorns Masterman, calling him a “miserable John Bull.” As Masterman testified, Antonio had been in his cabin all night, and Antonio claims that Masterman never expressed any displeasure with his boss, Mr. Ratchett, as he “did not speak” at all. Afterward, he signs a document for Poirot and leaves.
Antonio participates in a stereotype of his own by referring to Masterman as a miserable John Bull, a symbol of Britain and the British empire similar to Uncle Sam in the United States. Nevertheless, he provides an alibi for Masterman, confirming that he was in bed alternately reading and suffering from a toothache.
Themes
National Identity and International Connections Theme Icon
Deception and Genre Expectations Theme Icon
Even though there’s no evidence against Antonio, M. Bouc continues to suspect him, exclaiming “Italians use the knife! And they are great liars. I do not like Italians.” He appeals to the “psychology” of the case, but Poirot sees the psychology of the crime differently as the product of a “cool, resourceful brain.”
M. Bouc’s prejudices against Italians appear absurd, especially because he has a habit of pouncing on dubious information as a solution to the case. His final admission that “I do not like Italians” gives the game away that his conclusions were based entirely on prejudice. In responding to M. Bouc’s prejudices, Poirot poses that the criminal may be “cool” and “resourceful,” which is surprising given what’s known of the apparent savagery of the murder: twelve blows delivered by a knife, a weapon which requires that the user face down the victim.
Themes
National Identity and International Connections Theme Icon
Detective Methods and Inner Lives Theme Icon
Deception and Genre Expectations Theme Icon