British Soc & Lit 2 Blog Post 2 (Murder on the Orient Express)

Murder on the Orient Express, by Agatha Christie (1934)

Some help with locations and French expressions at this website.

Blog posts and presentations due: Monday, October 15

Group 3: TED-style Talk

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 lot during the snowstorm when the train is stuck– what happens? Does the snowstorm symbolize something to you?
  3. M. Bouc and Dr. Constantine seem rather 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 (Murder on the Orient Express)

  1. Heeran Kang

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

    I think the answer to this question depends on the reader’s conscience. In my opinion, yes, he does the right thing. As Poirot tries to hide what happened on the train, he gets to save a lot of people on the train. Actually, it is not his duty to sniff around and figure out what exactly happened in the past or who did that, even if a friend of his, Bouc, asks him to find that out. He could even turn it down from the first place just as he does when Ratchett asks him to protect himself, saying that he doesn’t like his face. However, he tries solving crimes because he finds it intriguing. Therefore, I think that he decides not to reveal what happened to the police because he wants not to or maybe because his conscience tells him to do so, not because there is any other thing that he would mind.
    Also, Poirot even seems like a judge of the train. I have no idea what law was like in 1930s in England, but he seems happy to be involved in that crime despite the risks he would take after the end of the story. He does try to use logic to solve the crime, but at the end of the day it seems that he sympathizes with those murderers who killed Ratchett to revenge for getting rid of their beloved girl out of their life. Even though they say that they are willing to go for a jail as they committed a crime, but at this time he tries to understand their feelings unlike what he did solving the actual problem. Therefore, I think that Poirot is like a judge with a lot of human warmth in himself and ends up declaring them innocent of any crime.

  2. Yujin Chai

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

    To be honest, I think Ratchett deserves to be killed. What he destroyed was not only the life of one person but also the lives of many people who were included. His ruthless and brutal crime deeply hurted their mind, and left a traumatic memories to them. But Ratchett did not beg forgiveness and confessed his sins sincerely. Even though Ratchett had been judged by law, it would not have been enough for them to be cured.

    Nowadays there are plenty of cruel crimes. But I think the degree of punishment is so weak that victims cannot be recovered thoroughly. Such a minute penalty cause families of victims to be outraged and make criminals forgive oneself so easily. And I strongly believe it is not a sensible thing. No matter how a bad person Ratchett is, killing somebody is not accepted. However, in the same context, what he did is also unforgivable. If I have to choose only one side, I want to stand on the real justice. To realize a true justice and punish Ratchett for themselves, they tried to express their anger and heal wounded hearts, which I can totally understand.

  3. Han-sol,Lee

    1.Discuss the ending. Did the ending shock you?
    It is very shocking for me. Firstly, I am socked with the identity of criminal. I expect at best four suspect and enjoy inferring who is murderers. I cannot expect the whole passengers are accomplices. It is interesting for me to if there is no clue and all the people have alibi, all of them are criminal. Mr. Ratchett kidnapped and killed the child but he got not guilty with his accomplices in high-ranking officials in their closing rout. There are many victims who were suffering, but in court which is filled with his confederates he can get a legal murder. However, in this turn, he is on the train that is close and filled with people who want to kill him and who can really act. His state is switched perfectly. Also, not only people related to that incident, but also the people who investigate the case. When they find the truth, they promise to hide what happens to the police. Mrs. Ratchett is really alone in the train. Also the decision of the Poirot is interesting. Most of the ending, all the criminals are arrested in any reasons. In his decision, I can see his humane quality and feel pleasant.

  4. Hyejin Yoo

    Does Poirot do the right thing in hiding what happened to the police?
    I think Poirot did the right thing. Poirot was a competent detective. Even though every passenger concealed the truth and tried to deceive Poirot, he eventually found out the truth. However, he was a Belgian policeman. He might know the reality. He knew that the court will not properly judge people involved in the crime. Even though those people had their own reason to kill Cassetti and their reasons were reasonable, the fact that they killed a human being could not be changed. Therefore, they should be judged by the law. However, Poirot hid the truth to the police for true justice.
    In addition, I think it is interesting that Poirot told the truth to people but hid it to the police. Poirot could do hiding the truth. He could just say that his second opinion was his only guess because even though second guess was wrong, it seemed reasonable. However, passengers ignored Poirot and thought he was not important. Therefore, even though Poirot knew that he could hide the truth that he knows, he revealed it so that people can get to know that he is a competent detective.

  5. Jong Hun, Kim

    9. Does Ratchett deserve to be murdered? Are the people on the train wrong to do so?
    I think Ratchett deserve to be murdered by the 12 passengers who are victims of what he did. He kidnapped a young girl who was Mrs. Armstrong’s daughter and killed her. she was too young to die at the age and had no fault at all. Moreover, this was not the first time to kidnap children and kill them. How can their family do? They just wait the judgement of law, but the decision of the court is a slap on the wrist not to kill the murder or sentence to life imprisonment.
    If I were them, I think, I also killed Ratchett in the same way or even more cruelly than Armstrong’s family. Because Ratchett never felt guilty about what he had done. And even to avoid being sentenced to prison, he tried to escape using his a lot of money. If he succeeded his flight, he could have lived happily killing children continually in other countries. Hearing the news he lives with wealthy, how can the family of victim live longer?
    Well… some Christians may suggest that they have to forgive Ratchett for letting themselves be free from anger. I wonder when they suffered from losing their family members by murderers, they can do the same things just like what you told to victims.

  6. Kim Ye Rim

    1. Discuss the ending. Did the ending shock you

    Actually, I didn’t get shock about the ending. The reason why is before reading this book, I was going to watch the movie first so I searched the internet site. There comes the movie site and I found many people left their comments about the movie. I wasn’t never going to see the ending of plot but suddenly someone just spoiled of ending. At first, I didn’t understand that everyone in the train was a criminal. But whenever I see the movie, it kept reminding me of the ending because of the spoiler. If I had read a book without knowing the plot, I would have been really surprised about the ending. There are numerous novels of detective genre, but I’ve never seen that everyone except detective is a criminal. Detective Poirot is so brilliant at his career that no one denied that there isn’t a case that he cannot solve. So Poirot prudently observe the case and find out no one can commit a murder all alone. But it is still mystery that why everyone has an alibi means that everyone is a crimimal. Even though Rachette has a clue of Amstrong case, I couldn’t understand how he could relates all the passengers to a suspect. Also, it was a bit akward that no one denies about their suspicion after Poirot finished inferring. If I were him, I’ll never know that everyone is a criminal. Poirot has an ability to recognize thd sense of imbalance. So I thought the author is so clever that he organized whole plot to make sense. It was an umexpected ending that I’ve ever seen.

  7. Jeonghyeon, Ahn

    Discuss the ending. Did the ending shock you?

    Yes, I shocked with the ending. I initially suspected Marry Debenham as the culprit. First, the reason for the suspicion was because of the suspicious conversation at the beginning of the novel. Especially, I first read the table of contents and thought that the title of the table was revealing the main culprit because the name of it was ‘the real identity of Mary Debenham ‘. So I actually thought that Mary was probably the killer. In conclusion, she was the culprit, however, not the only one of the culprits. Also I suspected Mr. Bouc or Dr. Constantine as the culprit. Because, in recent novels and films, there are many cases that the culprit is often the closest person to the main character, who is the most difficult person to doubt. (Or the main character is the killer). I had read kind of these endings before, so I naturally became to suspect these two people.

    Anyway, it might be my stereotype that I thought ‘about three or four people would be culprit.’ So it was a shock that all 12 of them were criminals. It was quite unusual for me to read the ending that all the suspects were criminals. And it was also a shock that they were all related to Rachet. It was amazing to see that 12 people, or more, were damaged because of one person’s crime, because it seems like the writer wanted to say one crime spoils a lot of lives. And besides, at the last part, the scene in which Mrs. Hubbard talking in her original voice, not acting, was creepy. In fact, considering of the all truth, it seems mysterious that Mrs. Hubbard played a woman who loved ‘her daughter’ very much. She really lost her daughter, Colonel Armstrong’s wife, because of Rachet.

  8. Jieun Chun

    1. Discuss the ending. Did the ending shock you?
    I would say ‘No’. Although I first read the book after I heard how the story ends, I think the ending was quite predictable. First of all, the threatening letters that came to Ratchett was written not by one person but by two or more people writing one word in turn. From here I was able to roughly guess that there is not only one murderer. Also, the clues Poirot found were related to several passengers, not just one passenger on the train. In other words, there were too many suspects. The handkerchief found on the floor with the letter “H” was Princess Dragomiroff‘s handkerchief. Another one was a pipe cleaner. It was also found in the victim’s room but it was not Ratchett’s. It was Colonel Arbuthnot‘s, because he was the only person who smoke a pipe among the people on the train. And there are more clues that show there is more than one person are involved in the crime, which are a button from a conductor’s uniform and a woman who rush out the hallway wearing a red kimono. Lastly, I could see that whenever Poirot tried to suspect someone, other character were attempting to prove his/her alibi and protect each other. With these circumstances I could say that it was predictable and therefore I was not shocked by the ending.

  9. Garam Park

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

    Reading the ‘Murder on the Orient Express’, I couldn’t find the suspect who killed Mr. Ratchett. The ending that all 12 passengers were involved in the murder was a surprise. Because I saw that ending in another movie called ‘Sympathy for Lady Vengeance’. Later I found that this movie was homage to the novel. This shows that the ending is quite shocking considering it was written in 1930s. Also, it gives readers lessons and deeply think about it. That “An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth” is the right way to keep justice? Is it not, then what is the justice? Such an argument still remains unsolved.
    There is a view that criminal punishment is the role of the countries. Mr. Ratchett also had to be judged by the country, but he escaped. In such a situation, can we report to the police about 12 passengers who did revenge? I don’t think so and Poirot would have thought so too. Those people did what they thought was right.

  10. Yoo jieun

    Q. Why did the people pick a queer murder method ?
    A. 12 people stabbing one person is not a ordinary way to kill. So, I have thought about a couple of reasons of why was this method of murder used.

    The first reason is to mess up the forensic investigation. As said in the book, from the stab wounds there are left handed people and right handed people. A women handkerchief a pip that seems to be used by a man and so in.

    The second reason is to decrease moral pain. Even though Ratchett is a scum he is still a person. When I first heard this murder plan what came inmind was a old execution that was held in the past.
    Three people randomly picked will press three bottoms at the same time. And only one is linked to the death niddli witch kills the prisoner in death row.
    This method was used so even a criminal was being dead no one will feel guilty about that fact.

    And maybe this method was Ike that. To decrease any moral conflict during to murder.

  11. Lee kyungho

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

    I am not saying that Willingly hiding their crime isn’t a serious offense. But I find that the laws are by their design, always have been flawed and always will be. This is quite natural as there are number of things that can go wrong, the confusion over the definition and scope of the certain words, lack of enforcement, overly complicated procedures, mere ignorance, the list goes on. I think I have been on the wrong end of the stick in enough times to attest this.

    This substantial gap is what makes the passengers take matters into their own hands and achieve their version of justice as the conventional legal system couldn’t deliver what they have wanted.

    Also, i don’t think there is anything meaningful that can be achieved by turning them in. Surely, they might face the consequences and the ‘justice’ is served, but I don’t really see the point of this as there is no going back.

    Thus, I think poirot did the right thing. I am sick and tired of seeing laws getting in the way of what should be really done.

  12. Chaehwa Song

    I want to answer the question 7. The book made me to remind movie, ‘Snowpiercer’. The main background of both works were inside the train. Train symbolized that there’s no place to hide and run away. The place is limited so it makes movie more less complex and make people(readers) to concentrate to the novel/movie. At the Snowpiercer, the train send the message that the people are going to go forward and escape from the place. While Orient Express Train shows that people can not get out from the place and no place to hide. So I could think that the suspect will must be caught. In addition, the train also heighten the people’s emotion and make them doubt each other(if the murderer was not all of them). This set up of the train’s role shows the relationship between the people both friendly and negative feelings. Therefore, it makes readers more confusing about the suspect I believe. In my opinion, train’s role is to make readers confused and concentrate to the scene deeper. Not only Murder on the Orient Express but also Snowpiercer’s literary set up plays same role at the literature.

  13. ji won lee

    Why was the story set on a train? Is there any symbolism to the train?

    The definition of the train is “a number of carriages, cars, or trucks which are all connected together and which are pulled by an engine along a railway.” And there is another meaning of the train. “events that connected sequence, in which each thought or event seems to occur naturally or logically as a result of the previous one.” By the definition of the train, I divided the meaning of train into two parts of symbolism. Transportation and retribution.
    Murdering a person is an unforgettable sin. Also it refers to Ratchett. Who killed Daisy. When a person commit the sin people believes he or she fell into hell. So, the train is the transportation, which leads Ratchett to the hell. As he rides the oriental express he was riding the express to hell. Like daisy, He was suffered great fear for die. The time he felt fear for dying could be the moment of hell. Or until he stabs to death.
    Because he killed Daisy, it made his life a miserable runaway and then finally he assassinated by Armstrongs. The retribution of his action was like a train. Serious of events occur logically as a previous one, that led him to death. The pain of losing Daisy led some characters to death, those consequences led Armstrongs and others (who are related to Armstrong) to revenge the Daisy’s and other ones’ death.

  14. Dong Jun, Jang

    Why was the story set on a train? Is there any symbolism to the train?

    Many some kinds of movies or something like books usually symbolize the place to show audiences or readers about his/her own thinking more details. Especially, in recent literature, it is important to show all kind of the preparation going right and same way. In this book, Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie, however, show the train just the way of the equipment of conflict. We might think about the symbol about that and put it in, but that’s not the main point in this scenario.

    Murder on the Orient Express is the typical inference novel. Its macguffin at event is little bit different from other inference novel, but it absolutely shows us the typical method and equipment. Especially inference novel must deceive readers. To deceive readers and ensure about macguffin that author made, there need to be detail on everything. Background is absolutely underlying in scenario. To conclude about the question, train was used for the macguffin, not kind of symbols. There are much more important symbolic items than train.

    But symbolizing train myself is free. Literature is a communication between reader and author

  15. Park ByungJun

    7.Why was the story set on a train? Is there any symbolism to the train?
    I thought the novel was interesting just because it was set on a train. The plot could be a little monotonous locked-room murder case but it became different by meeting train, especially ‘orient express’.
    Orient express has all the features that a typical locked-room has. It has no one come and go, the crime looks impossible to be done. However, there’s things make orient express special. The train was so expensive that normal people which is most of the readers cannot be on. By this novel, readers can experience orient express indirectly. The thing that orient express’s main users are upper class people and the crime among them feels kinda of seperated. I think this unlikable atmosphere matches with a mysterious novle.
    Many detective novles find new place to take place in. I think the reason is because new places gives new idea for the author. It is easy to make a new trick. Also, readers like new places because novels shows places that readers never been to.

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