112 pages 3 hours read

Agatha Christie

The ABC Murders

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 1936

A modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, SuperSummary offers high-quality Study Guides with detailed chapter summaries and analysis of major themes, characters, and more. For select classroom titles, we also provide Teaching Guides with discussion and quiz questions to prompt student engagement.

Discussion/Analysis Prompt

A motif of trains and railways recurs throughout the novel. For instance, each murder is marked by the presence of an ABC guide to train schedules, and Poirot comes to recognize the killer as a “railway-minded man” (Chapter 34). What is the significance of this railroad motif? Consider these points as you reflect on the text to answer the question.

  • What kinds of emotions and ideas are associated with trains and railways generally?
  • Why might Poirot take Franklin’s love of trains as a signal of his boyish mind? What does it reveal about Franklin’s character?
  • Which scenes take place on or near railroads or train stations, and what is their significance?
  • What symbolic significance, if any, do trains and railroads carry?
  • Which characters or objects stand in contrast to the railway motif? How so?

Teaching Suggestion: This activity connects to the theme of Genius, Madness, and Reason. If students struggle to understand the link between trains and Franklin’s outlook, you might ask them to consider the equivalent of Franklin’s railway obsession today: What kinds of symbols or motifs might Christie have adopted in place of the railway motif to convey the same concept if she were writing the novel today?

Differentiation Suggestion: To engage visual or kinetic learners more fully, it may be helpful to provide images associated with trains or show off (and perhaps run) a toy train.