In Murder on the Orient Express, the scarlet kimono symbolizes the malicious struggle between the mysterious criminal and the detective, Hercule Poirot. When Ratchett is stabbed in his train compartment in the early hours of the morning, Poirot peers into the hallway to see a woman rushing by in a scarlet silk kimono. Over the course of the subsequent investigation, the scarlet kimono remains a persistent mystery. Poirot asks each female witness whether she owns one, and each one denies it. When Poirot finally discovers the kimono in his luggage he says, "It is like that. A defiance. Very well, I take it up." Placing the kimono in Poirot’s luggage is an acknowledgement that both parties know the dangerous game they’re playing. The scarlet kimono also serves as a red herring, which is a detail or fact that seems crucial to the mystery but is later revealed to be unimportant, to distract readers and keep them in suspense. Agatha Christie’s red herring is distinguished by its boldness and transparency—after all, the kimono itself is bright red.
Scarlet Kimono Quotes in Murder on the Orient Express
He was just dropping off when something again woke him. This time it was as though something heavy had fallen with a thud against the door. He sprang up, opened it and looked out. Nothing. But to his right, some distance down the corridor, a woman wrapped in a scarlet kimono was retreating from him. At the other end, sitting on his little seat, the conductor was entering up figures on large sheets of paper. Everything was deathly quiet.
He got it down and snapped back the lock. Then he sat back on his heels and stared. Neatly folded on the top of the case was a thin scarlet silk kimono embroidered with dragons. "So," he murmured. "It is like that. A defiance. Very well, I take it up.”