Murder on the Orient Express

Murder on the Orient Express

by

Agatha Christie

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on Murder on the Orient Express can help.

Murder on the Orient Express: Part 3 Chapter 8 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Poirot calls still other passengers into the dining car. First, Antonio Foscarelli appears, looking side to side like a “trapped animal.” He becomes hostile when Poirot begins questioning him but relents after Poirot correctly guesses that he was the Armstrongs’ chauffer.
Antonio’s description as a “trapped animal” measures the extent to which Poirot has closed in on the hidden backgrounds of the passengers. Antonio enters the room prepared to fight but finds that Poirot has already won.
Themes
Detective Methods and Inner Lives Theme Icon
Deception and Genre Expectations Theme Icon
While denying the murder, Antonio rails against Ratchett calling him “a pig.” He alludes to some trouble with the police in connection with the kidnapping, but Poirot concludes he had nothing to do with it. At this, Antonio sinks into grief, remembering the sweetness and innocence of Daisy Armstrong. He exclaims that “All the household worshipped her!”
Antonio’s habits of speech have shown him to be coarse and colloquial, exemplified by calling Ratchett “a pig.” That makes the contrast starker when he begins to speak of Daisy Armstrong’s innocence in divine terms of “worship.” Ratchett’s crime seems especially infernal considering Daisy Armstrong as remembered by those who loved her.
Themes
Justice Theme Icon
Antonio sulks off and Poirot summons Greta Ohlsson, who immediately admits that she was Daisy’s nurse. Greta also mourns Daisy, calling her an “angel” and insisting to Poirot that “You cannot understand—you cannot know—if you had been there as I was…” Although she doesn’t admit to the murder, she rejoices that Ratchett is dead.
Greta is next to admit her employment in the Armstrong household as Daisy’s nurse, whom Helena had remembered as a woman named Stengelberg in a nod to her Swedish nationality. She claims that she’s also innocent of the murder, but she seems to throw the accusation back on Poirot, claiming that he “cannot understand” since he hadn’t shared in the grief of Dasiy’s death. This suggests that there may be a justification on a personal level for a crime that society may not deem legitimate or just.
Themes
Justice Theme Icon
National Identity and International Connections Theme Icon
Poirot treats Greta gently, letting her go without further questions. As she leaves, Masterman the valet enters. He admits straight away that he was Colonel Armstrong’s assistant in the war and apologizes for his deceit. He comes forward largely to defend Antonio, who he describes as a “gentle creature…not like those nasty murdering Italians one reads about.”
Masterman comes forward both to admit his lie and defend Antonio in a way that speaks of genuine affection for the man. In the process, he also punctures a national stereotype, work that Antonio had begun in his sentimental remembrance of Daisy.
Themes
Justice Theme Icon
National Identity and International Connections Theme Icon
Deception and Genre Expectations Theme Icon
Get the entire Murder on the Orient Express LitChart as a printable PDF.
Murder on the Orient Express PDF
M. Bouc and Dr. Constantine marvel at the carousel of emotional confessions and the coincidence of each passenger having a connection to the Armstrong household. Dr. Constantine calls it “more wildly improbable than any roman policier I have ever read.”
Poirot had been pushing against a network of lies supported by seemingly all of the passengers, but when it fails, it fails all at once with each coming forward to admit their dishonesty. Again, there’s a reference to the improbability of detective novels (roman policier), which is also Christie’s insistence that she has done her job in holding the reader in suspense.
Themes
Deception and Genre Expectations Theme Icon
Just then, Mr. Hardman enters, but he does so to ask, “Just exactly what’s up on this train?” Poirot is described again as “twinkling” as he questions Hardman on his history as an employee of the Armstrongs. Hardman denies any of that. But he praises Poirot saying, “believe me, you're a pretty slick guesser” and then further, “but no one would believe it to look at you.”
When Poirot “twinkles,” it’s clear that he knows something he’s not letting on, so Hardman’s claim that he’s ignorant of the events of the day doesn’t ring true. His contention that Poirot is brilliant but that “no one would believe it to look at you” ironically captures Poirot’s talent. His unassuming appearance hides his talent in a way that makes him a better detective.
Themes
Detective Methods and Inner Lives Theme Icon
Deception and Genre Expectations Theme Icon
Poirot states that he has known for “some time” who killed Mr. Ratchett and he asks M. Bouc to assemble the passengers in the dining car so that he can propose two solutions.
What’s soon to follow is an event mystery readers have been anticipating: a grand reveal of the solution of the crime to the assembled suspects. But Poirot breaks that formula by noting he has two solutions to offer. This may imply that the “truth” of the case is not a straightforward matter at all.
Themes
Deception and Genre Expectations Theme Icon