The Murder of Roger Ackroyd

“Little Grey Cells” Symbol Analysis

“Little Grey Cells” Symbol Icon

Many times in the book, Hercule Poirot claims that he solves his cases with the help of his “little grey cells.” Literally, Poirot is talking about his brainpower (the “grey matter” of the brain)—but he also means something more specific. The little grey cells to which he refers could symbolize Poirot’s unique style of detection, a combination of logical deduction, hands-on investigation, and intuition.

“Little Grey Cells” Quotes in The Murder of Roger Ackroyd

The The Murder of Roger Ackroyd quotes below all refer to the symbol of “Little Grey Cells”. 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:
Secrecy and the Universal Capacity for Violence Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the William Morrow edition of The Murder of Roger Ackroyd published in 2011.
Chapter 13 Quotes

“It is a theory that,” admitted Poirot. “Decidedly you have cells of a kind. But it leaves a good deal unaccounted for.”
“Such as—”
“The telephone call, the pushed-out chair—“

Related Characters: Dr. James Sheppard (speaker), Hercule Poirot (“Mr. Porrot”) (speaker)
Related Symbols: “Little Grey Cells”
Page Number: 153
Explanation and Analysis:

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“Little Grey Cells” Symbol Timeline in The Murder of Roger Ackroyd

The timeline below shows where the symbol “Little Grey Cells” appears in The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 8: Inspector Raglan Is Confident
Secrecy and the Universal Capacity for Violence Theme Icon
Detection and Intellect Theme Icon
...to know how Poirot investigates a case. Poirot responds that he always listens to “the little grey cells of the brain.” The key to a case, Poirot insists, is psychology. Raglan, however, says... (full context)
Chapter 11: Poirot Pays a Call
Secrecy and the Universal Capacity for Violence Theme Icon
Detection and Intellect Theme Icon
Gossip and Small Town Life Theme Icon
...home, Caroline informs Dr. Sheppard that Poirot has dropped by. He talked about his “ little grey cells ,” and asked Caroline questions about the murder. Sheppard is angry to learn that Caroline... (full context)