British Soc & Lit 2 – Blog Post 2 (Orient Express)

Murder on the Orient Express, by Agatha Christie (1932)

Some help with locations and French expressions at this website.

Blog posts and presentations due: Wednesday, October 18

  • Group 3: Is it an appropriate punishment for Ratchett to be murdered?
  • Group 4: Does Poirot make the right decision about hiding the truth to the police?

Write a post here of about 200 words discussing one of these questions; or make your post a reply to someone else’s post.

Your presentation must present an opinion or argument; it cannot just summarize the story. You must e-mail or speak to me before your presentation to have it approved.

  1. Discuss the ending. Did the ending shock you?
  2. The plot changes quite a bit during the snowstorm when the train is stuck– what happens?
  3. M. Bouc and Dr. Constantine seem a little stupid compared to Poirot. Is this true? Why?
  4. Poirot relies mainly on psychology and logic to solve crimes. How is detective work different today? (Such as in TV shows like CSI).
  5. Are the characters likeable? Do you sympathize with any one of them more than others?
  6. Are the ethnic stereotypes simply a product of Christie’s time, or do you think she is making a statement by using them?
  7. Why was the story set on a train? Is there any symbolism to the train?
  8. Is the book funny in places? Are there any humorous characters?
  9. Does Ratchett deserve to be murdered? Are the people on the train wrong to do so?
  10. Does Poirot do the right thing in hiding what happened to the police?

15 thoughts on “British Soc & Lit 2 – Blog Post 2 (Orient Express)

  1. JongHoon Park

    1.What does the book say about morality? Did the ending shock you?

    First of all, the ending was really shocking to me. As the story goes on, I kept thinking about who is the real murderer. However, at the same time, I came up with the lines where some of the characters said that Mr. Ratchett deserved to die, and then I agreed with them to some degree. If a murderer or serious criminal evades the law and doesn’t get punished, is it right? Poirot suggests two solutions in the end of this story and both M. Bouc and Dr. Constantine decide to conceal the truth.

    Then what is morality the book is saying about? Just because Mr. Ratchett committed the crime, one family totally collapsed. Of course, killing the villain is also treated as a crime and probably immoral, so there are some characters who originally refuses to stab Mr. Ratchett. But after hesitating, they made their mind and joined the murder. I think that the morality in this book looks emotional due to these parts in the book. The book seems to say that if someone’s criminal act has the worst influence and is much more vicious than the murder, killing that criminal is acceptable. I just wonder if this idea is right and feel sad for it because I think that it will be better to find another solution instead of killing the murderer.

  2. Kim Ji Yeon

    I think he deserved to be murdered. I have 2 reasons for that. Firstly, when we see that he traveled around the world after murdering, I think that he lived without any guilt after murdering. Through this fact, I can guess that it’s enough possibility to commit murder next time because he doesn’t have any feeling guilt. So in terms of possibility to come out another victims of murder next time, and to prevent this kind of accident again, he deserved to be murdered and I think people on the train did the right thing.
    Secondly, after he murdered Amstrong baby, Mrs. Amstrong, Colonel Amstrong and nursemaid died. I think it is not too much to say that they were killed by Ratchett. Like this, because 4 people of Amstrong family died, I think it is big grudge for Amstrong family. So Amstrong family will feel chagrin forever until he dies because Amstrong family underwent terrible murder without any reason. Therefore he deserved to be murdered by Amstorng family for revenging.

    1. Kim Ji Yeon

      This comment is for Question 8 : Does Ratchett deserve to be murdered? Are the people on the train wrong to do so?

  3. Sujung Ki

    8.Does Ratchett deserve to be murdered? Are the people on the train wrong to do so?

    I think it is not an appropriate punishment for Cassetti to be murdered. First of all, a man’s human right cannot be judged by a human being. Anyone cannot be more important or less important than others. We are just human beings and all human beings are equal. But it’s not that I don’t agree with the argument that Cassetti should be punished. He killed many children and he did murder. If the only way that a murderer can be apologized is to put him to death under the death penalty, the sentence should be carried out. And this would be the reasonable punishment for the murderer because he is punished in a legal way. Therefore, I think the passengers just should have helped the sentence to be carried out so that Cassetti could have been punished legitimately. They should not have killed Cassetti in person. Because all passengers are involved in killing Cassetti, I think all passenger on the orient express are murderers, too. Although the purpose of the murder is to punish the murderer, they did murder in the end. And I think they are justifying the fact that they have killed a human.

  4. Na, JongIn

    1. What does the book say about morality? Did the ending shock you?

    I think this book says about ‘Comparative Morality’. There are two characters (I regarded 12 people as one character) which is relevant with morality. One is Ratchett. He kidnapped and killed a young girl. He did absolutely worst crime in moral and humanity. The other is 12 people who had a connection with murder of Ratchett on Orient express train. They killed a man, so their crime is also worst one in moral and humanity
    However, I think 12 people might think that their murder is not to be blamed because they are ‘comparatively’ moral one. Their reason why they killed Ratchett is to revenge a young girl`s death, so they rationalize their murder. As they think, many people can understand their sorrow, but can`t understand murder. Even if they thank they have ‘comparatively’ morality, murder is absolutely against ‘moral’, but I still don`t know I can say 12 people absolutely immoral as I can understand their fury.
    Ending was really shocking for me. As I am reading this book, I try to catch someone who did it, and I expected Mr. Bouc, but ending was not. There is one more reason why I was shocked, it is that I can understand their fury. Even if 12 people ‘killed’ one man, I can understand why they try to kill him. Two contrast feeling, ‘Blame killing’,’Understand fury’, co-existed on my mind and it was a little bit weird.

  5. Cho yujin

    8.Does Ratchett deserve to be murdered? Are the people on the train wrong to do so?

    In aspect of the victim or any related people with the victim, they want to revenge the criminal in any kind of way. Of course, it is natural feeling and even they revenge to the suspect, actually most of the society will not judge it as an inappropriate behavior. Also, any kind of crime is bad and should be punished. However, the way they are punished should not be ‘revenge’ in the same way. Because, the murder will trigger another murder and we have ‘law’ in processes, logical ways. No matter how the criminal did cruel thing, they have the right to be on the court and be protected by the law. Ranchett is also a human being, has dignity. He deserved to be killed but not the way of ‘an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth’.
    In short, the way the 12 people killed Ranchett is wrong. I understand that there is no reason to hesitate to kill him because everyone was related to Armstrong family. If they really wanted to revenge to him, they should have called the police that there is a murder on the train. No matter how the situation is urgent and seems to be understandable, however, kill another life cannot be justified. Hence, I think the 12 people killed him so emotionally and impulsively. However, I am saying this in rational way. If I were the stand of them I am not convinced whether I will kill Ranchett or not.

  6. Kim Hyo Jin

    9.Does Ratchett deserve to be murdered? Are the people on the train wrong to do so?

    I think to be murdered is appropriate for Ratchett. The reasons of it can be divided in four opinions. First, the people’s murder can prevent another victim from occurring another victim like Daisy. It is revealed in the text of the story. Poirot says the Ratchett killed people in the past. Through these lines, I can know that the Ratchett is a potential criminal. If the people was not kill Ratchett, he would commit another murder. Second, the victim is a young child. Ratchett killed a young child. So, it is sadder than another death. I can understand them who killed Ratchett. Third, it would be hard for him to be punished because he was running away. In the story, Ratchett was described as running away from Armstrong’s family. So, if he was not killed by people, he would run away continuously by any ways and all means without punishment. Fourth, only a justifiable punishment for murder is murder. Rachett killed a person. He is a criminal. So, no punishment can replace his crime except death.
    For these reasons, an appropriate punishment for Ratchett is a death and the people on the train are not wrong to kill him.

  7. Minji Kim

    1.What does the book say about morality? Did the ending shock you?

    I think this book failed to talk about morality. Because even the detective failed to make a right decision. If the 12 passengers represent 12 juries, then not just Rachett but also their own crime should be asked.
    The fact about this novel is Rachett is a murder, 12 passengers murdered Rachatt, and Poirot didn’t hand them to police. He just let them leave. Even though Rachett murdering little Armstrong broke their hearts, that does not mean their murder could be justified. It should be considered a separate case and it is a separate case. I think Poirot letting them leave represents Rachett’s death a justified action. Of course, I agree that he got to be punished but it shouldn’t be in this way. It has to be done by a court, not by a normal people. Their murder was an obvious crime and their act should be punished too.

    I also thought about what made Poirot to made that decision at the end. Through the entire novel, he tries his best to figure out who is the murderer. But after finding out who it is, he keeps it a secret. Why? I think the number of murderer and their behind story made Poirot’s final decision. The story had been different if there was only one murderer, and if there was no behind story. Overlooking crime is definitely not showing morality.

  8. Innae Chang

    7. What was the story set on a train? Is there any symbolism to the train?

    Many stories have a train trip as a stage. That’s because trains have some attractive symbolism that work within the plot.
    First, a train is an enclosed area. No matter how horrible things happen inside, it is hard for the passengers to escape the train. This characteristic gives us similarity with fate. How terrible fate is, we cannot escape, but only to face it.
    This enclosure also act as blocking the passengers from the outside world. It’s a place where we leave behind reality and enter another world. This feature is perfect for novel writers, because the train can be a stage whete novel credit can be applied naturally.
    Another feature of a train is that it has a destination. Therefore the dream and fantasy that we have on the train have an ending and a time limit. This feature gives somewhat tension to the story, especially when it’s a horror or mystery novel.

  9. Sangyun Kim

    10. Does Poirot do the right thing in hiding what happened to the police?

    In my opinion, Poirot does the right thing. This book has many controversial points. One of them is this question. At the ending, Poirot hid what happened in the train to the police. His choice is based on personal justice and I think this is right. We know that Ratchett escaped social punishment by using his own power. He should have been punished by social justice at least, buy he didn’t. Armstrong family felt anger to him and they wanted to avenge what he did on their hands.
    I am not advocating the murder, but I am contending that a criminal or sinner should take punishment until the victim or victim’s family is satisfied, even if whatever the punishment is. In this point, I think Poirot’s choice is right for defending social justice and making Armstrong family’s relief. Although Poirot revealed the case and his investigation, the police maybe failed to discover the fact of this case, and it is easy to perjure themselves.
    A bad thing does not always cause a bad result and vice versa. Sometimes, a lie which conceal a true can be helpful in achieving the justice. Poirot was not just a outstanding detective, he was also a good judge.

  10. Kim Seong Yun

    4.Poirot relies mainly on psychology and logic to solve crimes. How is detective work different today? (Such as in TV shows like CSI).

    Outdated detectives like Poirot can’t help using their intuition and proof based observing skills. Unlike the classic old detectives, these days, modern detectives use not only intuitive ways but also use many scientific ways to find criminals. For example, montage, ultraviolet light, footprint, soil analysis and bone are used in scientific ways in modern numeral. The investigation ways that find criminals like soil analysis and using ultra violet essentially need a machine that requires high technology. As you know, latest drama ‘Sherlock’ shows that modern numeral needs intuitive skills and scientific technology skills. Sherlock has excellent intuitive skills but if there aren’t ways of scientific skills the story of ‘Sherlock’ cannot be processed. As the time goes, the ways of commiting crimes are getting more sophisticated and harder to find out, so this shows that the scientific ways of numeral is essential in the present.

  11. Lee Jihyun

    3. M. Bouc and Dr. Constantine seem a little stupid compared to Poirot. Is this true? Why?

    In my opinion, it is true that M. Bouc and Dr. Constantine seem a little stupid compared to Poirot. Throughout the story, M. Bouc and Dr. Constantine against and deny Poirot’s opinion. And sometimes they didn’t understand Poirot’s reasoning. Even M. Bouc keep insisting that the Italian is a suspect with only his stupid prejudice. Poirot is a detective and others are not. So their conversation which is occurred before and after the interview makes some humour.

    Not only that humourous function, I think it is also Christie’s deliberate device to intensify Poirot’s power of reasoning. And at the same time, it serves solving a reader’s curiousity too. During the reading this story, I was really surprised by Poirot’s reasoning and I can understand how the case are solved with M. Bouc and Dr. Constantine’s question. They ask something looks little weird and it makes Poirot shake his head again and again, but sometimes it gives some hint. Thus they seem a little stupid compared to Poirot, but I think it’s deliberate setting by writer for showing Poirot’s cleverness clearly.

  12. Choi Jinyeong

    1.What does the book say about morality? Did the ending shock you?

    Before starting to talk about morality, I want to mention we live in the age with the internet and advanced science technology and it’s easier to find out the criminal and to share specific information about it than in the time of this book. Therefore, the passengers may have thought they could sentence him instead of the court as long as he is rich and keeps escaping from the punishment. I’d like to conclude the passengers are moral in a way, considering the feeling they have for Ratchett. In a view of the revenge for killing young children, it could be right punishment. I would be involved in the murder on the train if I were a member of Amstrong family. However, it doesn’t mean what they did to Ratchett could be justified. Additionally, I think the author might want to imply what someone has done could be moral depending on the situation no matter whether it is legal or not.
    The ending didn’t shock me that much since it was set in 1930s and the criminal investigation which Poirot conducts is too inaccurate and psychologically based to completely figure out the crime. I noticed that the number of the passengers on the train are 12 and the stabs are 12 at some point while I was reading the book and guessed they all might kill him. I was rather disappointed to know how they killed Ratchett, because I think he deserves a worse punishment.

  13. HeeJin Lim

    10. Does Poirot do the right thing in hiding what happened to the police?

    I have a clear opinion of this : I am not a believer in the law, but I believe that it is more systematic to be organized than human feelings.
    Ratchett ruined the quality of life for everyone on Armstrong Family, And also impoverished them. But that’s all. It does not Justifiable cause to abet another murder. If the police are faced with this incident, consider what will happen to murderers. And that happen, is the right thing to do. They can feel ‘This is unfair!’ but absolutely, that is fair. Imagine a world where everyone relies on emotional judgement.
    I have cousins who are majoring in law school, and she always tells me. ‘Laws are always absurd, but better than human judgment.’ Nothing is as unreasonable as Latchett’s release without charge, but it’s inevitable. There is nothing wrong with the wrong decision. There is nothing can changing the wrong judgement. Because, At this writing, The Law is the right path.

    Of course, my answer could be different if I was a question from a novel perspective. Many things are tolerated in the novel, and it does not affect the real world. (Of course there are exceptions.)
    However, this novel was realistically written as it was supposed to happen in the those era. So it was a little more sensitive issue to me.

    1. HeeJin Lim

      (until yesterday, I thought that presenter who dealed with this literature didn’t have to write an blog post. and today I realized that I ought to write this. I’m terribly apologize for being late.)

Comments are closed.