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43 pages 1 hour read

Agatha Christie

Murder on the Orient Express

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 1934

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Symbols & Motifs

The Scarlet Kimono

Murder on the Orient Express has many “red herrings” or false clues. The scarlet kimono is the ultimate red herring—a literal red herring and a symbolic representation of these many fake leads. Making this clue even more confusing for the reader is the fact that Poirot himself first identifies it, seeing it with his own eyes and thus presenting it to the reader from a reliable source. Later, Poirot will learn that his sighting of the red kimono was carefully planned—hence the noise at his door moments earlier.

The kimono acts as a representation of the persistent lies and deception present on the train. Poirot consistently asks each female passenger the color of her dressing gown, only to be left with the answer that no one owns a scarlet kimono. After searching the passengers’ luggage, the kimono is found on top of Poirot’s own luggage, dropping the red herring right into his lap and increasing the tone of suspense in the narrative.

The Orient Express

The Orient Express—the train itself—is a multifaceted symbol in the book. At its most basic level, the Orient Express symbolizes the link between East and West, as it runs from Istanbul to Paris.

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