Murder on the Orient Express

Murder on the Orient Express

by

Agatha Christie

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Scarlet Kimono Symbol Analysis

Scarlet Kimono Symbol Icon

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

The Murder on the Orient Express quotes below all refer to the symbol of Scarlet Kimono. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Justice Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Harper edition of Murder on the Orient Express published in 2011.
Part 1 Chapter 5 Quotes

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.

Related Characters: Hercule Poirot
Related Symbols: Scarlet Kimono
Page Number: 54
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 2 Chapter 15 Quotes

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.”

Related Characters: Hercule Poirot (speaker)
Related Symbols: Scarlet Kimono
Page Number: 207
Explanation and Analysis:
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Scarlet Kimono Symbol Timeline in Murder on the Orient Express

The timeline below shows where the symbol Scarlet Kimono appears in Murder on the Orient Express. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 1 Chapter 5
Deception and Genre Expectations Theme Icon
...he hears a thud next door. Looking into the hallway, he sees a woman wearing a scarlet kimono walking by. (full context)
Detective Methods and Inner Lives Theme Icon
Deception and Genre Expectations Theme Icon
...at length his powers of deduction and investigation. He asks Poirot to use the “ little grey cells of the mind ,” using Poirot’s own phrase, to solve the case. Poirot is touched by the appeal... (full context)
Part 2 Chapter 1
Deception and Genre Expectations Theme Icon
...his place awake for the rest of the night. He also remembers a woman in a scarlet kimono walking down the hallway. (full context)
Part 2 Chapter 4
Justice Theme Icon
Detective Methods and Inner Lives Theme Icon
...it, calling Cassetti a “monster,” she doesn’t have a personal connection. He follows up on the scarlet kimono , but she denies owning one. Mrs. Hubbard rises to leave and Poirot suggests she... (full context)
Part 2 Chapter 5
Deception and Genre Expectations Theme Icon
...would have awakened her. Greta also reports that neither she nor Ms. Debenham owns a scarlet silk kimono. (full context)
Part 2 Chapter 11
Detective Methods and Inner Lives Theme Icon
Deception and Genre Expectations Theme Icon
...be married soon, which Ms. Debenham calls “impertinent.” He also asks her whether she owns a scarlet kimono and she responds, “No that is not mine.” Poirot follows it “like a cat pouncing... (full context)
Part 2 Chapter 12
Detective Methods and Inner Lives Theme Icon
...a dressing gown in the presence of the Princess, Poirot gently interrupts to compliment her “scarlet” dressing gown . She replies that hers is dark blue. According to Hildegarde, after massaging the Princess,... (full context)
Part 2 Chapter 13
Deception and Genre Expectations Theme Icon
The same question attaches to the woman in the scarlet kimono . Seemingly, they’re confronted with a missing scarlet kimono and a missing conductor’s uniform, one... (full context)
Part 2 Chapter 15
Deception and Genre Expectations Theme Icon
...of the luggage is finished with no further surprises. Poirot notes that the mystery of the scarlet kimono remains, a mystery that’s difficult because it’s been “made difficult.” Returning to his own bags,... (full context)
Part 3 Chapter 2
Deception and Genre Expectations Theme Icon
...a list of unresolved questions. He notes that they haven’t assigned ownership of the handkerchief. The scarlet kimono is still an open question, as every female passenger has denied ownership of it. The... (full context)
Deception and Genre Expectations Theme Icon
Poirot leads them through several other questions. The scarlet kimono is unique in that none of them can even propose a solution to who wore... (full context)
Part 3 Chapter 9
Deception and Genre Expectations Theme Icon
...threatening letters, the identity of the small, dark man, and especially the “red herring” of the scarlet kimono as elements expressly designed to confuse him. He speculates that it may have belonged to... (full context)