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 5 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Poirot moves on to the Swedish woman who had talked to Mrs. Hubbard, a woman named Greta Ohlsson. She’s a trained nurse traveling to stay with family in Lausanne, Switzerland. She confirms Mrs. Hubbard’s story, including her encounter with Ratchett, from which Poirot moves on “tactfully.”  
Greta has been shown to be a somewhat meek, fragile woman who’s already been exposed to Ratchett’s cruelty, so Poirot’s approach is markedly less skeptical and intensive than it was with Pierre Michel or Mrs. Hubbard.
Themes
Detective Methods and Inner Lives Theme Icon
Afterward, Greta Ohlsson returned to her cabin, which she shared with Ms. Debenham. She slept in her cabin for the rest of the night, claiming that Ms. Debenham never left because her departure would have awakened her. Greta also reports that neither she nor Ms. Debenham owns a scarlet silk kimono.
The presence of the scarlet kimono remains mysterious even after three of the women on the train report, directly or indirectly, that they don’t own one.
Themes
Deception and Genre Expectations Theme Icon
Poirot asks Greta Ohlsson whether she’s been to America, which she denies. She praises Americans for their financial investments in schools and hospitals. When informed that Ratchett was the man who killed Daisy Armstrong, Greta becomes emotional and leaves with her “eyes suffused with tears.”
Although some on the train have a negative opinion of Americans and probably Mrs. Hubbard specifically, Greta finds their charitable efforts admirable. This probably also explains her affinity for Mrs. Hubbard, who’s involved in these causes, even if her opinions about it are clumsy. Greta plays a bit to type when she’s overcome with emotion about the Armstrong case, as she’s been categorized as “sentimental,” but her reaction further emphasizes the odiousness of the Armstrong case.
Themes
Justice Theme Icon
National Identity and International Connections Theme Icon
After Greta Ohlsson’s departure, M. Bouc lobbies Poirot to call the Italian man who roomed with Masterman. M. Bouc is fixated on the Italian because, as he says, “an Italian’s weapon is the knife.”
M. Bouc’s prejudices are clear, and he seems convinced of a man’s guilt because of his sense that people of his nationality kill with “the knife.” His conclusion is presented as patently ridiculous as way to cast doubt on reasoning from these thin cultural prejudices.
Themes
National Identity and International Connections Theme Icon
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M. Bouc is untroubled by the clear alibi that Masterman offered for the Italian, but Poirot is described as “twinkling” as he reminds M. Bouc of the inconvenient fact. M. Bouc is certain that these inconvenient details will be explained away, but Poirot insists that it’s “hardly so simple as that.”
Poirot resists M. Bouc’s premature conclusion, and the “twinkling” in his eye is something of a detective’s tell that he thinks the case goes much deeper than a coincidence of nationality. In a way, his insistence that the case is “hardly so simple” echoes the reader’s own desire for a more complex, more surprising mystery.
Themes
National Identity and International Connections Theme Icon
Detective Methods and Inner Lives Theme Icon
Deception and Genre Expectations Theme Icon