95 pages 3 hours read

Agatha Christie

And Then There Were None

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 1939

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The Effects of a Guilty Conscience on Behavior

The effect of a guilty conscience is a major theme in the novel. All the characters experience varying degrees of guilt over the crimes they committed prior to coming to the island which manifests in their various idiosyncratic behaviors. There are characters such as Anthony Marston and Lombard who truly harbor no guilt whatsoever for their crimes and therefore act with nonchalance and even cheerfulness despite the danger that has befallen them on the island. Anthony is flippant about the fact that he once ran over two children, casually stating, “Well, anyway it wasn’t my fault. Just an accident!” (56). Since he doesn’t feel guilty, he isn’t afraid like the other guests are after the gramophone condemns them for their crimes. Instead, he wants to stay on the island because the “whole thing’s like a detective story. Positively thrilling” (60). Similarly, Lombard lacks remorse for leaving 21 men from an East African tribe to die when he was in the army. He grins “with amused eyes” and confirms the story is true when the group questions him (55). Both Lombard and Anthony Marston are cool, confident, and collected because unlike the other guests, they are not weighed down by a guilty conscience.