In the novel And Then There Were None, written by Agatha Christie, a major theme is guilt. It’s shown a lot in Vera Claythorne, and General Macarthur, and is seen in different ways between characters throughout the book. Just imagine being invited to an Indian Island, thinking your going for a job offered to you, then to realize your brought there because of a previous crime committed and your unsure of what is going to happen. Meanwhile everyone there is being filled with guilt.
Vera Claythorne is a very intelligent character. She had a secret, a very dark secret. The novel explains how at her last job she was teaching/training a little boy named Cyril Hamilton. His family was very rich and she wanted some money. Her thoughts were that if she drowned Cyril, his relative Hugo would inherit his money and marry her. But those were just thoughts, not reality. Yet, she did drown Cyril, but Hugo wanted nothing to do with her because he was sure that Cyril didn’t drown on his own.
“But that smell—that smell of the beach at St. Tredenthick… That wasn’t imagined. It was true.… And then, as she stood there, listening—a cold, clammy hand touched her throat—a wet hand, smelling of the sea…. Vera screamed”(Christie, ). This quote from the novel is explaining how her guilty conscience is following her. The smell of the sea is flowing through her nose as she stands in her room alone.
As she feels the cold hand touching her throat she feels as if Cryil is coming for revenge. Her guilt of this crime sticks with her throughout the whole novel. Following her everywhere. Vera later then accepts a summer job on an Indian Island. As she is working there she has more crime conflict. Vera is not emotionally stable. The guilt keeps building up.
General Macarthur was previously an Army General who is now retired. Macarthur had been accused of killing his Lieutenant, from when he was serving. The reason behind it was because his wife was in love with the Lieutenant. Immediately following this crime was guilt that stayed with him over many years. The guilt has become haunting, it’s making him tired. He just wants his life to come to an end, he’s tired of the guilt following him everywhere. “Of course, your very young, you haven’t got to that yet. But it does come! The blessed relief when you know that you’ve done with it all, that you haven’t got to carry the burden any longer. You’ll feel that too, someday…”(Christie, 116). This quote is a strong example showing how worn down, tired, and beat up he is from his guilt of his crime.
The characters experience different types of guilt. All types over crime but felt in different ways. People who admit their crimes and mistakes don’t feel such a hard pulling guilt on them. Yes they still have guilt, that doesn’t go away, but admitting it helps yourself not break apart. Now, the people that deny their crimes are hurting from the guilt in a different way. They feel their guilt as a private feeling with themselves. Lastly, the people who never own up to the crime they’ve committed will feel the strongest guilt. It will stick with them forever and tire them out.
In conclusion, this novel brought together people with a guilty conscience because of crimes they’ve committed. It resulted in characters being killed and a mystery of who the killer is. But through all of this suspicion of the people, each felt a way of guilt because each have committed a crime.