Murder on the Orient Express

Murder on the Orient Express

by

Agatha Christie

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Murder on the Orient Express: Part 3 Chapter 4 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Poirot and M. Bouc go to the dining car to confront the Count and Countess with this new information. Poirot first offers her the monogrammed handkerchief, which the Countess denies ownership of. But Poirot insists that the monogram matches the first letter of her name, Helena Goldenberg. Against Poirot’s evidence, the Countess gives in and her voice becomes “for the first time, a definitely American voice.”
The Countess’s admission makes clear Poirot’s logic when he challenged the Countess to speak English in a previous interview. At that time, she made an attempt at the accent of a European learning English as a second language. Now, her true voice removes all doubt that she’s American.
Themes
National Identity and International Connections Theme Icon
Deception and Genre Expectations Theme Icon
The Countess gives an impassioned excuse that Ratchett had destroyed the three people “I loved best and who made up my home—my world!” In that moment, she appears a “true daughter” of the world-famous actress Linda Arden. She explains that she lied because her motive to kill Ratchett was so strong, yet she swears she did not commit the crime.
Poirot is impressed by the emotional force of Helena’s admission, which brings back the real monstrosity of Ratchett’s crimes and the human suffering it created, which even now persists. As Sonia Armstrong’s sister and the person with the most reason to commit the murder, she correctly anticipated that she would be discovered and suspected. However, her denial of the crime seems genuine.
Themes
Justice Theme Icon
Deception and Genre Expectations Theme Icon
The Count admits his complicity in the deception, saying that the alteration of the passport and luggage was his doing. He offers as an excuse that he wanted to protect his wife from false suspicion and media scandal and that the alteration of the passport was “easily done.” Poirot gives him backhanded praise: “You have the makings of a very fine criminal…and an apparently remorseless determination to mislead justice.”
More context is provided for the Count’s reluctance to have his wife interviewed: in effect, he was right to think she would be suspected and interrogated for the crime. Poirot’s disappointment in the Count stems not from his desire to protect his wife, however, but from his successful effort to confuse the course of justice, Poirot’s chief concern.
Themes
Justice Theme Icon
Detective Methods and Inner Lives Theme Icon
Deception and Genre Expectations Theme Icon
Poirot asks for her help to fill out the details of the Armstrong household. She confirms for him that Daisy had a French nursemaid named Susanne and a nurse named Stengelberg. She also volunteers someone else from Daisy’s childhood, an old woman: “a dragon—a sort of governess…a big red-haired woman.” Helena remembers her as English, then corrects herself that she was Scottish. She remembers her as Miss Freebody.
Helena has unburdened herself of a terrible and significant secret, yet her responses to Poirot about the Armstrong household aren’t entirely confident. She has difficulty remembering Miss Freebody’s precise role, “a sort of governess,” and revises her nationality once, as well.
Themes
National Identity and International Connections Theme Icon
Detective Methods and Inner Lives Theme Icon
Deception and Genre Expectations Theme Icon
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