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The most vital substance for life is water and in our society justice is just as important. Without it we would be corrupt and poisoned with injustice. Judgment is what happens when there is no justice. It is constricting in nature and is the major flaw of human nature. Justice is about healing, not about punishing. The passengers aboard the Orient express, are poisoned by judgment when a key piece of information is revealed to them about the murder investigation. In the novel Murder on the Orient Express, Agatha Christie illustrates the flaws in human nature through the judgment of Ratchett by the passengers resulting in little justice being made.
The discovery of Mr. Rachett’s true identity changes the passengers’ view on the crime scene. In chapter 7, Poirot and Dr. Constantine begin to investigate the crime scene for clues.
They discover a small charred piece of paper that reads: ‘—member little Daisy Armstrong.’ Poirot instantly knows whom Ratchett’s really is, an American named Cassetti.
Poirot reveals Ratchett’s identity to MacQueen, Ratchett’s secretary, and his response to this is, “‘If ever a man deserved what he got, Ratchett or Cassetti is the man. I’m rejoiced at his end. Such a man wasn’t fit to live!’’ (Christie 99). Suddenly, upon this new information, MacQueen’s mindset and demeanor changes completely. Who once was Ratchett’s reliable secretary, now despises him. In an article analyzing Christie’s work, the author writes, “A common theme in Christie’s works is that everyone, if not actually guilty of some crime, has, at minimum something to hide” (Abbott).
In this case the Daisy Armstrong kidnapping and murder case ties all the characters together affecting their sense of proper judgment in finding justice for the current case at hand.
The passengers’ emotions towards Ratchett posed as the victim are skewed. They show no mercy and couldn’t agree more with the crime. In an interview with Princess Dragonmiroff, Poirot asks, “ ‘You do not believe in doing your utmost to further the ends of justice?’’ To which Princess Dragonmiroff responds with, “ ‘ In this case I consider that justice – strict justice – has been done’ ” (Christie 272). Princess Dragonmiroff agrees with the other passengers when she says justice has been done and it was necessary considering the things Ratchett, or Cassetti, had done involving the Armstrong kidnapping case. Hark analyzes the characters behavior in the novel while they are snowbound on the express, he states,“ In Murder on the Orient Express, as Christies sees it, Ratchett’s murder should generate little psychic guilt” (Hark 39).
Every passenger has been affected by this man and don’t see justice being produced in any other form. Hark explains that it is not in the passengers’ nature to feel pity or guilt, but instead judge and be full with contempt. The passengers’ judgment toward Ratchett shows the flaws in human nature. Poirot analyzes the case further. He connects the following information in order to uncover the solution to Ratchett’s murder, ‘Ratchett had escaped justice in America. There was no question as to his guilt. I visualized a self-appointed jury of twelve people who condemned him to death and were forced by exigencies of the case to be their own executioners.
And immediately, on that assumption, the whole case fell into beautiful shining order’ (Christie 307). Agatha Christie makes a connection to the justice system by comparing the twelve passengers to a jury. However, this is an example of how an unjust system for the passengers take on the role in becoming the “executioners” as well with only knowing one piece of information about Ratchett. David explicates the basic reactions of human beings through our most common characteristic, judgment, “Most humans live their lives sensing dynamic objects, people and things — and swiftly making judgements, assumptions, and predictions based on those perceived stimuli…Humans need closure, and we use the limited and highly skewed information…” (Davidson). Perhaps these characters needed closure for the horrific crime Ratchett, or Cassetti, left behind. So once discovering his identity, the killing seemed like a perfect act of justice to them.
The plot twist in this novel causes a shift in the passengers’ judgment and view on helping resolve the murder for most of them feel that it had been solved with the murder itself. One passenger, Linda Arden, admits that she would have taken on the sole role of executioner if she had to. She believes this is a case of justice and not revenge. I would have stabbed that man twelve times willingly. It wasn’t only that he was responsible for my daughter’s death and her child’s, and that of the other child who might have been alive and happy now. It was more than that. There had been other children before Daisy and there might be others in the future. Society had condemned him-we were only carrying out the sentence (Christie 245). In an online article, Bramhall explains what he believes are the “innate” flaws of human nature, “Categorizing Alleged “Innate” Flaws of Human Nature…Impaired Rational Decision Making: Impulsiveness and emotionality allegedly make human beings (especially those from the poor and disadvantaged classes) innately irrational.
Limited capacity for rational decision making, due to emotional instability, ignorance, superstition and/or prejudice makes it impossible for the average person to participate in self-governance” (Bramhall).The passengers are from all different parts of the world and different classes. However, they all have the same strong feelings toward Ratchett’s involvement in the Armstrong case and take on the role to rule that justice had been done with his murder. Human nature can be based off many findings from psychology. One finding describes that humans experience “Schadenfreude” at a very young age, which is pleasure at another person’s distress. Also, that we believe in “karma-assuming”, that some deserve their fate (Jarrett). The passengers of the Orient Express display these concepts in which they aren’t bothered by the murder itself for they believe Ratchett deserved to be killed and are in fact content that it happened.
In the novel, Colonel Arbuthnot hints to the other passengers’ “karma-assuming” behavior as a solution to the murder. Poirot asks him in one of the many interviews he has conducted, ‘In fact, Colonel Arbuthnot, you prefer law and order to private vengeance?’ To which Colonel Arbuthnot responds, ‘Well, you can’t go about having blood feuds and stabbing each other like Corsicans or the Mafia,’ said the Colonel. ‘Say what you like, trial by jury is a sound system’ (Christie 151). The Colonel recognizes that the passengers are acting out of spite and judgment and are just as guilty of the crime by not helping with the investigation and all ready condemning Ratchett for his wrong doings. They do not follow the concept of “innocent until proven guilty” which is and act of injustice.
Agatha Christie shows how in Murder on the Orient Express revenge does not mean justice. Since the characters are connected to the tragic Armstrong crime, their grief results in a desire for revenge. Hence, once revealed the true identity of Ratchett and his connection to the horrible crime, the characters find revenge in his death and do not care to take part in carrying on with the investigation. In an article, Twelve Angry People: Conflicting Revelatory Strategies in Murder on the Orient Express, Hark explains that the two emotions naturally found in a tale of revenge and murder, guilt and hostility, are nearly non existent Christie’s novel. Instead, “the conspirators view themselves as righting a dreadful miscarriage of justice” (Hark 39). The characters’ judgement of Ratchett’s past triggers their desire for revenge and ultimately they are satisfied with the news of the murder. All twelve passengers embarked on the Orient Express have been poisoned by injustice.
They lack the clarity that is water which is necessary to life. Much like human beings, they are quick to judge and become fixated on their own opinion. It is in human nature to need closure and in that sense humans focus on judgements in order to reinforce their mindset. Humans’ impaired rational decision making, due to their emotional instability and ignorance, makes it impossible for them to participate in self-governance. The passengers did exactly that. They unleashed their most innate flaw of human nature and attempted to appoint themselves as members of a jury as well as take on the role of executioner. In their beliefs, based off their strong feelings with Ratchett’s connection in the Armstrong kidnapping case, the ultimate justice has been served with his death. They accused him with injustice and the true justice was not served.
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