The story And Then There Were None was written in 1939 as a revolutionary novel. It was a new brand of fresh ideas that had never been seen before. This novel has shaped and influenced many of the mystery novels we see today. Throughout the novel ten strangers are put together on an island, all with different offences to their name, and as they slowly get murdered many themes come up such as trust, guilt and a reoccurring poem. This poem is titled “Ten Little Indians” and is written into the book to give the reader slight hints as to what is going to happen to characters currently and later in the book.
The poem foreshadows what will happen to the characters in the book which really affects the book. The effects it has is the inevitability of what is going to happen, character development, how and when each character would die also the dramatic and poetic justice created by the poem and how accurate the deaths were with the poem.
This poem shows us how the characters develop and show their true personalities to us and each other because as the number of people decrease on the island the suspicion grows every time.
In the book characters begin to start dying one by one and that is when you slowly begin to realize they are dying based on the poem itself. This is a very interesting way Agatha Christie did it because as you read the poem in full it full describes what is going to happen and how the book is going to end.
This affects the book because it foreshadows what is going to happen yet still leaving it vague enough to add red herrings. It shows us the inevitability that by the end of the book everyone will be dead. This lets us as readers understand that it is not as simple as a few murders and is a more elaborate plan. It tells us from an early part in the book that these characters were not put here by accident and in someway is all related.
The poem reveals that everyone will die to us the reader but for the characters it is not as evident. It is a realization in the book by the characters and upon understanding each others fate, they decide to show their true nature to the readers. Character development comes into the story when they suddenly realize that if they are not going to become killers someone will kill them. It adds onto the forever old saying “Eat or be eaten.” This is where the survival theme also begins to show since each person is fending for themselves. Throughout the story the main characters develop relationships with other members on the island and as they realize that they will be facing death soon they quickly turn against each other. Even up to the end of the book, the two remaining characters, thinking each other is the killer goes for the gun and kills the other and only one is left. This shows the character of everyone when instead of being diplomatic and being honest they all resort to distrust and suspicion.
The poem in the story also somewhat shows us when someone is going to die and when. It does not give us an exact point in the story of when it will happen but it lets us know how it will happen. This is very useful when reading because then you can make your own personal inferences about who in the story is going to get killed. This meaning when the earthquake occured in chapter fifteen. When you read an earthquake happening in the story you can refer to the poem to let you know something may be happening.
In the beginning of the book it is revealed to us that a mysterious stranger calls ten strangers to an island and that makes us all think that they are all somehow related to each other or the host but what is not revealed is that each one individually is guilty of murdering other people or being an accomplice to murder prior to getting on the island. This is why the poetic justice is so vivid in the book because each person is a murderer who got off of major consequences. While reading the book though it is sad that ten people died, you then learn why and understand why it happened to them and what the relation to each other is. Another form of poetic justice in this book is how some characters died and when. This can be shown as Philip Lombard carrying around a gun on the island who is then later shot using his own gun. This goes to show that even though Justice Wargrave shouldn’t have killed them, he did so with the intent of setting straight the deaths of who each person killed and by doing so taking the law into his own hands and killing who he sees fit.. Another point of poetic justice is the person responsible for putting everyone on the island is Justice Wargrave. It is not just an average citizen who witnessed injustice in the justice system, he is a judge. This is also ironic because a judge is who let all the ten criminals off of their offences and it was a judge who punished them for those same actions.
Along with the poetic justice of how some characters on the island were killed, another way the poem affected and influenced the book is through how accurate each death was. As the poem is recited, each boy dies a different way. As in the story it is transferred from poem to reality. Opposed to just killing them all at the same time by shooting them all or gassing them he chose to play a game with them. He wanted to put fear into each person so that their true character would expose itself. This is why he follows the poem to an extent. As the poem is a children’s nursery rhyme it cannot be exactly followed to murder. Also because some of the scenarios in the poem would not relate to the situation at hand. As the poem is slowly executed each death becomes according with a twist. Such as in the poem the first boy dies of choking, Anthony Marstone drinks poison and dies. The ninth boy overslept, Mrs. Rogers died of an overdose of sleeping pills. This continues and the deaths get more and more creative down the line such as the sixth boy getting stung by a bee and Emily Brent gets hit with cyanide with a needle and the third boy gets hugged by a bear and William Blore gets a bear shaped clock dropped on him and dies of brain damage. This form of killing them is to drive fear into the hearts of the others and to follow the poem accurately.
The poem Ten Little Indians is an independent theme in the book And Then There Were None. It is used to show the deaths of the people on the island and explain in an early state, how they died. In the book it is used by the reader to help understand the inevitability of what is going to happen, which is that everyone dies. It also helps us understand how some of the characters develop throughout the story. It is a representation of poetic justice and used to show irony. As well as showing us how elaborate Justice Wargrave went as to faking his own death and killing all these people, all at the risk of being caught, and all to follow the poem. As you read the book you begin to understand that without the poem the story would be over very fast, in the sense that ten people come to the island and get killed. The poem is what allows the story to get creative and draw it out. Without the poem the story somewhat falls apart. This shows how important the poem was to the story and how it affected it in so many ways.