And Then There Were None

AUTHOR: Agatha Christie


And Then There Were None: Summary, Plot, Characters, Literary Analysis & More

“And Then There Were None” is a classic novel by the renowned author Agatha Christie, first published in 1939. This novel stands as one of Agatha Christie’s greatest critical and popular successes.

The novel unfolds on the isolated Soldier Island, as ten strangers, each with their own secrets, are lured to the enigmatic Indian Island under various pretexts. Their mysterious host accuses them of hidden crimes through a chilling nursery rhyme, and one by one, they meet their demise.

Agatha Christie’s masterpiece delves into themes of guilt, justice, and the consequences of one’s actions, weaving a suspenseful and intricate tale of intrigue and deception.

Agatha Christie's masterpiece delves into themes of guilt, justice, and the consequences of one's actions, weaving a suspenseful and intricate tale of intrigue and deception.

The Plot

“And Then There Were None” by Agatha Christie presents a gripping plot set on Soldier Island, where ten seemingly unrelated individuals, including Philip Lombard, Vera Claythorne, and General Macarthur, are mysteriously invited.

As they gather, they discover that their enigmatic host accuses each of them of past crimes. Stranded on the island, they become the subjects of a macabre nursery rhyme, “Ten Little Indian Boys,” as they meet gruesome deaths one by one, mirroring the rhyme’s verses.

Amid paranoia and distrust, the remaining guests must uncover the identity of their host and grapple with their dark secrets in a thrilling battle for survival.


In “And Then There Were None” by Agatha Christie, a diverse group of characters assembles on Soldier Island, each harboring secrets. Some of the key characters include Philip Lombard, Vera Claythorne, and General MacArthur. Here are detailed descriptions of these and other important characters:

Philip Lombard

A former soldier known for his rugged demeanor and dubious moral compass. He’s accused of leaving a group of natives to die.

Vera Claythorne

A young woman hired as a secretary, she’s linked to the drowning of a young boy she was responsible for.

General Macarthur

A retired military officer haunted by the death of a colleague under his command during World War I. Accused of causing the man’s death.

Key Themes

The central theme is the consequences of guilt and the pursuit of justice.

The characters grapple with their dark pasts as they face a relentless accuser, mirroring the theme of moral reckoning. Other prominent themes include isolation, deception, and the fragility of trust.

Consequences of Guilt

The characters’ secrets and past misdeeds come back to haunt them as they face their own guilt, leading to their eventual demise.


The remote Soldier Island isolates the characters, heightening the suspense and making escape impossible, reflecting the theme of isolation.


Characters adopt aliases and hide their true natures, illustrating the pervasive theme of deception and disguise.

Fragility of Trust

As trust erodes among the guests, the theme of trust’s fragility becomes evident, contributing to the atmosphere of paranoia and fear.

Genres in And Then There Were None

This novel falls primarily into the genres of mystery, thriller, psychological suspense, and crime fiction. These genres create a captivating narrative that keeps readers on the edge of their seats, with a complex web of mysteries, psychological tension, and a relentless pursuit of the truth.


The novel’s central mystery revolves around the identity of the elusive killer and the characters’ hidden pasts, driving the narrative forward.


The tension and fear that grip the characters and the readers make for a thrilling experience, as they are trapped on the isolated island.

Psychological Suspense

The characters’ deteriorating mental states and paranoia contribute to the psychological suspense, making it an essential element of the story.

Crime Fiction

As the characters’ secrets and past crimes are gradually revealed, the novel embodies the core elements of crime fiction, offering a complex puzzle to solve and justice to be served.

Language used in And Then There Were None

Agatha Christie employs an interesting writing style in “And Then There Were None,” marked by its use of vivid imagery and intricate characterization.

Her language evokes the eerie and suspenseful atmosphere of Soldier Island, creating an air of unease and tension as the plot unfolds.

Christie masterfully weaves deception and misdirection into the narrative, keeping readers guessing until the final reveal.

Her use of dialogue and monologues provides insight into the characters’ thoughts, feelings, and motivations, enhancing the emotional depth of the story.

Literary devices in And Then There Were None

Agatha Christie employs literary devices such as red herrings, dramatic irony, and foreshadowing to craft a compelling mystery.

These devices keep readers engaged and enhance the suspense by leading them down false paths, revealing hidden truths to the audience, and hinting at the impending doom that shrouds the characters.


Similes in “And Then There Were None” by Agatha Christie are sparingly used but effective. For instance, the phrase “like ten little Indians” serves as a simile that intensifies the eerie atmosphere and impending doom, comparing the characters’ fates to the nursery rhyme.

This enhances readers’ engagement by drawing a vivid parallel between the rhyme and the unfolding events, heightening the sense of foreboding.


In the context of the story, the recurring allusion to “Ten Little Indians” in the form of a nursery rhyme is highly significant.

The rhyme itself acts as a foreboding foreshadowing device, as each character’s death mirrors the rhyme’s verses, reinforcing the theme of guilt and punishment.

It also adds a layer of mystery and dread to the narrative, increasing the reader’s engagement and suspense.

Other allusions in the story tie to the characters, such as Emily Brent, Mr. and Mrs. Rogers, and the dining room table, adding depth and context to their backgrounds and actions.


The novel contains allegorical elements that represent broader themes, particularly in the context of the nursery rhyme “Ten Little Indians.”

The rhyme serves as an allegory for the characters’ descent into guilt, judgment, and their ultimate fates, mirroring a moral reckoning for their past deeds. It symbolizes the consequences of one’s actions and the concept of justice.


“And Then There Were None” by Agatha Christie employs limited onomatopoeia, mainly for dramatic effect during pivotal moments, like the sound of a gunshot.

These onomatopoeic words intensify the suspense and engage the reader by evoking vivid, sensory experiences that heighten the tension in key scenes.


Metaphors in the book revolve around the characters and their fates. The phrase “Ten Little Soldier Boys” serves as a metaphor for the characters themselves, each being a figurative soldier facing their own internal battles and ultimately succumbing to their individual flaws and secrets.

It symbolizes their inevitable moral reckoning and descent into guilt, weaving deeper meanings into the narrative.


“And Then There Were None” by Agatha Christie incorporates analogies that aid readers in comprehending complex ideas.

The recurring reference to “Ten Indian Figures” in the novel serves as an analogy, symbolizing the guests as mere figurines or pawns in a larger, malevolent game orchestrated by an unknown host.

This analogy underscores their powerlessness and the calculated nature of their predicament, making it easier for readers to grasp the sense of manipulation and imminent danger the characters face.

The analogy adds depth to the story, emphasizing the characters’ vulnerability in the unfolding mystery.


Agatha Christie masterfully employs vivid imagery in “And Then There Were None.” The description of “big bear hugged” in the nursery rhyme creates a haunting visual of a bear embracing the characters, symbolizing their impending doom.

Imagery like “dead bodies” and “drawing room” paints a vivid, eerie picture of the chilling crime scenes and the claustrophobic setting on Soldier Island, engaging readers by immersing them in the suspenseful atmosphere.


Symbolism abounds in the novel. The Indian figurines represent the characters themselves, each figurine being removed upon their demise, symbolizing their individual moral reckonings.

The “world’s favorite Christie” alludes to the author’s own fame, while “best selling crime novel” hints at the narrative’s calculated and mysterious plot, engaging readers by weaving the story’s symbols into its thematic tapestry.


Personification in “And Then There Were None” by Agatha Christie is sparingly used but adds depth to the characters and setting.

For instance, the character Anthony Marston is described as having “a boyish face” personifying his youthful appearance, which contrasts with the gravity of the situation on Soldier Island. This adds complexity to his character and heightens the reader’s engagement.


Irony is skillfully employed throughout the novel to enhance its suspense and thematic depth. The most prominent form of irony is dramatic irony, where the readers possess knowledge that the characters lack.

The characters’ innocence about their impending doom creates tension and engages the reader emotionally.

Furthermore, situational irony is evident as characters who believe they have escaped their past crimes are ultimately confronted with the consequences they tried to evade, underscoring the theme of moral reckoning. This irony contributes to the novel’s complexity, making it a classic in the mystery genre.


Juxtaposition is a key narrative device in the novel, serving to highlight the stark contrasts between the characters and their circumstances.

The characters are initially introduced as seemingly unrelated individuals, but as their secrets are revealed and they face their imminent deaths, their differences and moral failings are juxtaposed with the mystery and horror unfolding around them.

This contrast creates a thought-provoking scenario, emphasizing the complexities of human nature and the consequences of their past actions.

The juxtaposition of their individual histories with the broader theme of justice adds depth to the narrative, engaging readers in a web of moral ambiguity and suspense.


A notable paradox in the novel is the seemingly contradictory nature of justice and revenge. 

While the characters on Soldier Island are brought to face their past crimes, they become both the victims and the instruments of vengeance, embodying the paradox that the pursuit of justice can, in turn, lead to further injustices.

Miss Brent, who condemns others for their perceived sins, also grapples with her own sense of moral superiority, highlighting the paradox of judgment.

This theme of paradox underscores the complexity of human nature and the blurred lines between right and wrong.


The recurring allusion in the novel is to the nursery rhyme “Ten Little Indians,” which serves as a literary device to foreshadow the characters’ fates and mirror their moral reckonings.

Miss Brent and all the guests are connected by their shared experience of being accused of past wrongdoings, and the rhyme’s references to death and retribution allude to the broader theme of justice and the consequences of one’s actions.

The allusion to the nursery rhyme adds depth and a sense of foreboding to the story, engaging readers in the unfolding mystery.


Repetition serves a crucial role in building suspense and emphasizing key elements of the story. The repetition of the phrase “ten people” reinforces the central theme of the characters’ isolation on the island, intensifying the feeling of entrapment.

The repetition of the “marble clock” highlights its significance as a symbol and adds to the overall sense of impending doom.

Additionally, the repetition of the characters’ deaths, like “found dead” and “promptly dies,” creates a sense of relentless progression, building tension and emotional impact as the narrative unfolds.

The Use of Dialogue 

Dialogue is a crucial tool for conveying character traits, developing themes, and building narrative tension. Characters engage in discussions that reveal their personalities and hidden secrets.

Their exchanges about the “utterly impossible” nature of the situation and their suspicions contribute to the novel’s themes of deception and moral reckoning.

Additionally, the dialogue between the characters, including the best-selling novelist and the newly hired secretary, adds depth to the narrative, highlighting their diverse backgrounds and motivations.

Christie uses dialogue masterfully to create a sense of unease, build suspense, and keep readers engrossed in the mystery surrounding the ten guests and their ominous predicament.

Word Play 

Wordplay techniques in “And Then There Were None” by Agatha Christie primarily revolve around subtle elements that contribute to the story’s suspense and mystery.

While the novel doesn’t heavily rely on puns or double entendre, the mention of “ten dead bodies” serves as a chilling wordplay, as it succinctly underscores the central premise of the story.

Additionally, the reference to “Vera steals Lombard’s gun” subtly alludes to the characters’ heightened sense of distrust and paranoia, adding to the tense atmosphere.

These wordplay elements enhance the narrative’s sense of foreboding and keep readers engaged in the unfolding mystery of the mysterious Mr. U.N. Owen.


In the novel, parallelism is subtly woven into the narrative, primarily through the characters’ backgrounds and motivations. Each character arrives on Soldier Island with their own secrets, and this parallel structure is central to the story.

The parallelism of their concealed pasts and the shared experience of being accused by a mysterious host underscores the theme of moral reckoning.

As the characters are progressively eliminated, this parallel structure intensifies, creating a sense of symmetry and reinforcing the consequences of their actions.

Parallelism serves to maintain a consistent sense of intrigue and engage readers in the intricate web of deceit and justice.

Rhetorical Devices

In “And Then There Were None” by Agatha Christie, rhetorical devices play a subtle yet persuasive role in shaping the narrative.

Rhetorical questions, such as “Who is the mysterious Mr. U.N. Owen?” and “What lies behind the marble clock-shaped figure?” serve to engage readers’ curiosity and propel the story’s enigmatic nature.

The repeated references to “the most baffling mystery” invoke a sense of intrigue and challenge readers to unravel the puzzle alongside the characters.

Moreover, the mention of “Rogers locks” and “Justice Wargrave” subtly emphasizes their roles in the unfolding drama, encouraging readers to consider their significance and motivations.

These rhetorical devices contribute to the narrative’s persuasive effect, drawing readers deeper into the mystery.

And Then There Were None: FAQs

Here are some frequently asked questions about “And Then There Were None,” Agatha Christie’s iconic mystery novel. Explore key insights and inquiries about this timeless classic.

What is a short summary of And Then There Were None?

This is a classic Agatha Christie mystery where ten strangers are lured to an isolated island, accused of past crimes, and are then systematically murdered, mirroring a nursery rhyme.

What was the main point of in And Then There Were None?

The main point is the exploration of guilt, justice, and moral reckoning as ten individuals with hidden pasts face the consequences of their actions on a remote island.

Where is the reference “ten little indians” from?

The reference to “Ten Little Indians” is from a nursery rhyme that sets the ominous tone for the story, foreshadowing the fate of the characters.

Who is the real killer in And Then There Were None?

The real killer is revealed to be Judge Wargrave, who masterminded the intricate scheme to deliver his own form of justice upon the accused guests.

What is the plot twist in And There Were None?

The shocking plot twist is that Judge Wargrave, believed to be dead, is revealed to be the orchestrator of the murders, using the island’s isolation to execute his elaborate plan for delivering vigilante justice.

Summing up: And Then There Were None: Summary, Plot & More

Summing up, “And Then There Were None” by Agatha Christie is a masterpiece of suspense and mystery. Set on the enigmatic Soldier Island, the novel unravels the fate of ten strangers lured to the isolated location under false pretenses.

With an eerie nursery rhyme foretelling their doom, the story explores themes of guilt, justice, and deception. Christie’s intricate plotting, vivid imagery, and dramatic irony engage readers in the characters’ moral reckoning.

The recurring allusion to “Ten Little Indians” adds depth and foreboding to the narrative, cementing its status as a classic in the mystery genre.

Its timeless appeal lies in its enduring ability to keep readers on the edge of their seats, making it a must-read for those who seek an enthralling tale of suspense and justice.

Other Notable Works by Agatha Christie

If you enjoyed “And Then There Were None” by Agatha Christie, you might also appreciate these other notable works by the Queen of Mystery:

  • Murder on the Orient Express” – A classic Hercule Poirot mystery set aboard a luxurious train.
  • The Murder of Roger Ackroyd” – A groundbreaking detective novel featuring Hercule Poirot.
  • Death on the Nile” – Another riveting Poirot investigation in an exotic setting.
  • The ABC Murders” – A clever and suspenseful novel with Poirot tracking a serial killer.
  • Murder in the Cathedral” – A standalone mystery featuring Miss Marple in the village of St. Mary Mead.
  • Evil Under the Sun” – A captivating mystery set on a picturesque island with Hercule Poirot.

Agatha Christie’s extensive bibliography offers a wealth of intriguing mysteries, each with its own unique setting and cast of characters, ensuring there’s something for every mystery enthusiast to enjoy.

The recurring allusion to "Ten Little Indians" adds depth and foreboding to the narrative, cementing its status as a classic in the mystery genre.