And Then There Were None: Novel Summary: Chapter III

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Summary

With dinner, the arrivals seem to be warming up to each other. Marston notices that ten Indian figurines are placed around the table, which prompts the group to recognize that each person has a copy of the same poem in his or her room. After dinner, Brent and Claythorne withdraw to the drawing-room, which overlooks the ocean. Brent comments on the lovely sound of the sea and Claythorne remarks how she hates it. When Brent speaks of Mrs. Oliver, Claythorne asserts that their hosts name is Owen. Soon the others join the women. Their post-dinner conversation is interrupted by a high, clear voice, coming from an undetermined location. The voice proclaims that each guest, including Mr. and Mrs. Rogers, is charged with a specific indictment for the death of a specific person or persons. The voice concludes by asking if anyone has something to say in his or her defense.

Everyone is stunned, and a scream and ensuing thud is heard from another room. Lombard rushes out and discovers that the scream has come from Mrs. Rogers, who has fainted. General confusion and surprise ensues, but Lombard discovers that the voice has come from a gramophone in the next room, which has been strategically placed against the drawing-room wall. Lombard replays the recording and the group again hears the voice. Claythorne screams for the recording to be turned off, and Armstrong suggests that its some cruel joke. However, Wargrave suggests that it might not be a joke. Marston asks who turned the gramophone on; Wargrave agrees that they must answer the question. The group returns to the drawing-room, where Mrs. Rogers is reviving. She asks Armstrong if she fainted, and when he confirms the act, she notes that the voice had made her faint, a voice that sounded like a judgment. Mr. Rogers proclaims that the accusations are all vicious lies, but he is interrupted by Wargrave, who asks if Rogers turned on the gramophone. Rogers admits that he turned on the recording, but that he was only acting according to the orders of Mr. Owen: following dinner, he was to place a specific record on the gramophone and to turn on the machine when he served coffee. When Wargrave suggests that its a very remarkable story, Rogers proclaims that its the truth. Lombard notes that the recording is titled Swan Song.

Macarthur proclaims that the entire scene is preposterous, and Brent questions who Owen is. Wargrave agrees and suggests that Rogers put his wife to bed and then return. Rogers and Armstrong take Mrs. Rogers to her room. Marston and Lombard go in search of a drink and soon return with an entire tray of drinks. When the group reconvenes, Wargrave begins to question Rogers, who reveals that he has never met Owen and that he and his wife have only been on the island for a week and that their employment was arranged by letter. When Wargrave asks if Rogers has the letter, Rogers says no; however, he is able to produce the set of instructions that directs him to play the gramophone. Blore steps forward to examine the letter and proclaims that it has been composed on a standard typewriter and on standard paper and doubts that they would find any fingerprints. Marston comments on the name, Ulrick Norman Owen, which spurs Wargrave to suggest that they pool their information.

Brent offers the first story, noting that the signature on her letter was difficult to read. She retrieves the letter, and Wargrave notes that he is beginning to understand the situation. Claythorne, Marston, and Armstrong retell their stories. Lombard attempts to interject a point, but Wargrave overrules him and moves on to Macarthur. When it is Lombard’s turn, he lies, claiming that his invitation was much like the others. Finally, Wargrave turns the focus to Blore, noting that the recording named a William Henry Blore but no Davis. When confronted, Blore admits his true identity and offers a truthful account of his invitation.

When all stories have been told, Wargrave offers his conclusion. All of the signatures include the initials U. N. Owen or, in his estimation, unknown. When Claythorne proclaims that its mad, Wargrave adds that their host is likely a dangerous homicidal maniac.

Analysis
The theme of judgment is highly emphasized in this chapter, most obviously in the voices indictment of each guest. It is worth noting that Mrs. Rogers remarks that the voice sounded like a judgment. The fact that the proclamation is made by a disembodied voice helps to protect the speaker’s identity, but it also adds a divine quality to the judgment.

The guests desire to conceal the truth of their actions is reflected in their passionate denials of the voices accusation. However, the open accusation asserts that their ability to keep their secrets hidden has been compromised. The title of the gramophone recording, Swan Song, is an obvious reference to the fact that the guests visit to the island will be their final appearance on earth.

Wargraves suggestion that Mr. Rogers may be lying about the events and Lombards lie to the group are both acts of mistrust.

The sense of mystery deepens as the guests realize that they must uncover their accusers identity.

Finally, the importance of shared information becomes evident, yet it is clear that not all information can be trusted.

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