The Murder of Roger Ackroyd

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd Chapter 14 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
After Dr. Sheppard’s conversation with Poirot, he begins to see how much information Poirot has concealed. He showed Sheppard the objects he collected, but not the logical deductions he made. Before Monday, Sheppard thought of himself as playing Watson to Poirot’s Sherlock Holmes; now, he realizes, their paths have diverged.
Sheppard finally realizes that he and Poirot aren’t really on the same page: Poirot sometimes asks for his help, but he doesn’t trust Sheppard with his innermost thoughts. It’s unclear if Sheppard now understands that Poirot was trying to get rid of him by sending him to check up on Mrs. Folliot.
Themes
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On Tuesday, Mrs. Ackroyd summons Dr. Sheppard to examine her. She claims that she’s “prostrated” by the horror of Roger’s death—a claim that Sheppard finds ridiculous. He prescribes a tonic. Mrs. Ackroyd continues to complain—first about how Poirot has “bullied” her, and then about how Flora should have consulted her before hiring Poirot. She brings up Dr. Sheppard’s conversation with Ursula, and asks what Ursula told him. Sheppard senses that Mrs. Ackroyd has something to hide. She begs Sheppard to listen to her, and to present her testimony to Poirot “in the right light.” Sheppard says he will.
This time, Dr. Sheppard is gentler with Mrs. Ackroyd than he was during their previous conversation: instead of “brutally” telling her the truth, he allows her to speak, even if she does so in a rambling, boring way. Mrs. Ackroyd seems to be on the verge of revealing a secret to Dr. Sheppard, perhaps because Poirot’s speech has jolted her into coming clean.
Themes
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Detection and Intellect Theme Icon
Gossip and Small Town Life Theme Icon
Mrs. Ackroyd proceeds to explain to Dr. Sheppard that she’s had “many bills,” some of which she didn’t show to Roger. On the day of Roger’s killing, she opened Roger’s desk and found his will. While she was reading it, Ursula Bourne entered the room. Afterwards, Roger came home, and Ursula asked if she could speak with him. Mrs. Ackroyd begs Sheppard to present this information to Poirot in a favorable light. Dr. Sheppard can sense that Mrs. Ackroyd has more to say—intuitively, he asks her if she left the silver cabinet open, and she admits that she did, knowing that some of Roger’s silver could fetch a high price. Miss Russell startled her as she was going through the silver. Dr. Sheppard remembers seeing Miss Russell closing the silver table on the evening before Roger’s murder. He also remembers how Miss Russell seemed slightly out of breath at the time. He wonders aloud if Miss Russell “has had her handkerchiefs starched.”
As the earlier chapters suggested, Mrs. Ackroyd has been in debt for a long time—she’s strapped for cash, and depended on Roger. Yet Mrs. Ackroyd doesn’t admit to stealing the money from Roger’s desk—only opening Roger’s will (which would explain why, that evening, she was trying to persuade Flora to make “settlements” with Roger). Mrs. Ackroyd admits that she’s been hiding some things about herself, but none of these things seem particularly relevant to Roger’s murder—she’s a thief, but not a killer. However, her testimony points Dr. Sheppard in the direction of Miss Russell, who may have gone to the summerhouse (and left a handkerchief).
Themes
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Detection and Intellect Theme Icon
Dr. Sheppard leaves to speak to Ursula Bourne. He tells her that he knows she wanted to speak to Roger, not the other way around. Ursula admits this, but also asks Dr. Sheppard about Ralph Paton, murmuring, “He ought to come back.” Finally, she asks Dr. Sheppard when the murder was committed. When Sheppard replies that it can’t have happened before 9:45, Ursula seems relieved.
Ursula seems to know Ralph better than she’d let on previously—hence her repeated plea that he “come back.” She is relieved, possibly because Ralph has an alibi (since the murder happened after 9:45).
Themes
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Detection and Intellect Theme Icon
Get the entire Murder of Roger Ackroyd LitChart as a printable PDF.
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When Dr. Sheppard comes home, his sister tells him that Poirot asked her to determine if Ralph Paton’s boots, which he left at the Three Boars, were black or brown. Caroline asks a friend’s maid, Clara, who also works around the Three Boars, about the boots, and by lunchtime Caroline has determined that the boots were—contrary to what Poirot thought—black. Dr. Sheppard can’t imagine what the color of the boots has to do with Roger Ackroyd’s murder.
For the second time, Poirot asks Caroline for her help. Caroline is an important source of information—she has a network of friends and fellow gossips who can quickly gather almost any information that Poirot asks for. However, Christie doesn’t reveal why Poirot cares about the boots’ color, again emphasizing that Poirot and Sheppard aren’t always working side-by-side.
Themes
Secrecy and the Universal Capacity for Violence Theme Icon
Detection and Intellect Theme Icon
Gossip and Small Town Life Theme Icon