Murder on the orient express PROJECT By: Dayna Janson and Samya Zitouni, class 3B
Vocab • Ab initio- from the beginning. (adverb) • Camorras- a Neapolitan secret society organized in 1820, and are notorious for practicing violence and blackmail. (noun) • Taboo- a custom prohibiting or restricting a particular practice or forbidding association with a particular person, place, or thing. (noun) • Onus- used to refer to something that is one’s duty or responsibility. (noun) • Et al.- and others; from the Latin word et alia. (noun) • Pseudo-science- a theory, methodology, or practice that is considered to be without scientific foundation(ex. Astrology, psychokinesis, tarot cards, palm readings). (noun)
vocab • Delineation- to represent pictorially; depict. (noun) • Verisimilitude- the appearance of being true or real. (noun) • Gemutlich- warm and congenial; pleasant or friendly. (adjective) • Metaphysics- abstract theory or talk with no basis in reality. (noun) • Repressed- kept suppressed or unconscious in one’s mind. (adjective) • Spiritualistic- of or relating to or connected with spiritualism. (adjective)
Rules • Rule 1: The detective must have the same observational skills as the reader, and all clues must be obvious to the reader. • Rule 2: No reader shall be tricked unless it is plot-related to the criminal against the detective. • Rule 3: There can’t be any love interests in mystery novels, for it’s about bringing people to justice, not to matrimony. • Rule 4: A detective cannot be the culprit, because it tricks the reader. • Rule 5: The offender has to be found through logical explanation, not by accidents and coincidences. • Rule 6: The detective must use the clues he finds to solve the mystery, for if he can’t do just that than he is no better detective than us. • Rule 7: Someone must be killed in a mystery, for a murder is more interesting for readers than a boring, regular crime.
rules • Rule 8: A detective can’t solve the crime by means of magic, spiritualism, and other things of the other dimensions because it leaves the readers defeated. • Rule 9: There can only be one detective in a mystery novel, because too many and the reader won’t know which one to side with. • Rule 10: The culprit has to be a person we’ve already heard about in the story. • Rule 11: Servants cannot be culprits, for only the ones who aren’t suspected of the crime make a murder mystery great. • Rule 12: There can only be one culprit, so the reader can only concentrate on that person and why he or she did such a crime. • Rule 13: The culprit can’t have any aid from mafias or secret societies of that sort, for then it wouldn’t be a true murder.Rule 14: When solving a murder, the method of solving it must be through logical explanation, never imaginative or purely magical.
rules • Rule 15: If the reader were to read the book again, he/she would have the ability to solve the mystery before the final chapter, since the clues were pointed to the culprit the whole time. • Rule 16: No detective novel should have long descriptions and unrelated side stories, for they have nothing to do with the plot and the crime. • Rule 17: Usually kind folk become overridden with guilt, for you never suspect them to commit a crime. It would be plain if it were committed by a professional killer, jailbird, or bandit. • Rule 18: The crime should never turn out to be a suicide or an accident, for that would fool us into reading something that was nothing but a false-murder.Rule 19: In detective stories, the crime is always committed because of personal reasons, that way the reader can also relate to the culprit.Rule 20: When using ideas like comparing cigarettes to ones at the scene of the crime, pinning the crime on a twin or relative, and faking fingerprints show that you as a mystery writer lack originality.
Rule #3 • “Twenty rules for writing detective stories” • “3. There must be no love interest. The business in hand is to bring a criminal to the bar of justice, not to bring a lovelorn couple to the hymeneal altar” (Van Dine). • Explanation: • Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express doesn’t quite fit with this formula because there was a love interest in the story. This rule states that the novel can’t have any love related issues and such when it comes to solving the crime. I’d have to disagree, for it was particularly Colonel Arbuthnot and Mary Debenham who were apart of the crime in killing Cassetti. They loved each other yet tried to act like strangers to one another for the sake of the crime. The love interest didn’t make the story terrible, in fact it made the ending reasonable. For the supporting claim about how they really loved each other made Poirot and the other investigators sympathize for them, and rethink whether or not they should turn them in to the Yugoslavian police. There was also Cyrus Hardman who helped in the crime, for he was in love with the nursemaid who committed suicide. The quote below supports how love is somewhat important to the mystery. • Murder on the Orient Express: • “But it’s unnecessary to bring all these others into it. All these good faithful souls- and poor Michel- and Mary and Colonel Arbuthnot- they love each other” (Christie 245).
Rule #11 • “Twenty rules for writing detective stories” • “11. A servant must not be chosen by the author as the culprit. This is begging a noble question. It is a too easy solution. The culprit must be a decidedly worth-while person– one that wouldn’t ordinarily come under suspicion” (Van Dine). • Explanation: • Rule #11 doesn’t fit with Murder on the Orient Express, for Mary Debenham was a governess for Daisy Armstrong. There was also Hildegarde Schmidt who was the servant for Princess Dragomiroff, and she helped with the murder. Greta Ohlsson was apart of the murder and she was Daisy’s nurse. All these women were servants around the household in a way, especially Ms. Debenham for she was the governess of Daisy and secretary of Sonia Armstrong. Hildegarde was the Armstrong family’s cook, and she played the role as the servant, and was a part of the murder. The quote below shows how Poirot finds out that a maid did in fact have part in this brilliant murder. • Murder on the Orient Express: • “I laid a trap for her- she fell into it. I said I knew she was a good cook. She answered: ‘Yes, indeed, all my ladies have said so.’ But if you are employed as a lady’s maid your employers seldom have a chance of learning whether or not you are a good cook” (Christie 242).
Rule #12 • “Twenty rules for writing detective stories” • “12. There must be but one culprit, no matter how many murders are committed. The culprit may, of course, have a minor helper or co-plotter, but the entire onus must rest on one pair of shoulders: the entire indignation of the reader must be permitted to concentrate on a single black nature” (Van Dine). • Explanation: • Rule #12 is basically saying there must only be one culprit, with maybe one or two accomplices. This rule doesn’t fit with Murder on the Orient Express because not one, but twelve people committed the murder of the mob boss Cassetti. I would never have suspected that many people would commit the murder of one person. But after reading this book, it all made sense. Since all these people worked for the Armstrong family(whose daughter was killed by Cassetti) they decided to deliver Cassetti to justice. It was a very unsuspected ending, but a great one, even if it didn’t fit this formula. The quote below will support how twelve is better than one when it comes to a brilliant murder. • Murder on the Orient Express: • “There were twelve of us. First we thought we’d draw lots as to who should do it, but in the end we decided on this way. It was the chauffeur, Antonio, who suggested it. Mary worked out all the details later with Hector MacQueen. It took a long time to perfect our plan.“ (Christie 244).
Rule #16 • “Twenty rules for writing detective stories” • “16. A detective novel should contain no long descriptive passages, no literary dallying with side issues, no subtly worked-out character analyses, no “atmospheric” preoccupations. Such matters have no vital place in a record of crime and deduction. They hold up the action and introduce issues irrelevant to the main purpose, which to state the problem, analyze it, and bring it to a successful conclusion. To be sure, there must be a sufficient descriptiveness and character delineation to give the novel verisimilitude” (Van Dine). • Explanation: • In Murder on the Orient Express, this rule doesn’t fit with the book. There are long passages and they mainly focus on the little details, such as the grease spot on Countess Andrenyi’s passport, the the bolts on the doorway with Mrs. Hubbard, Ratchett saying an excellent French phrase when he couldn’t even speak French. and the small man with a womanish voice who doesn’t fit anyone’s descriptions. There was also the fact that the woman wearing the scarlet kimono even had a fruity scent on her, and that detail didn’t even matter. It’s tiny details like this and side issues that throw a reader off, and that’s not always a bad thing. Sometimes less action in a novel calm us down, and let us think. They can even make us think differently about who the culprit really is. The quote below supports this claim. • Murder on the Orient Express: • “Further to confuse the issue, a red herring was drawn across the trail- the mythical woman in the red kimono. Again I am to bear witness to this woman’s existence. There is a heavy bang at my door. I get up and look out- and see the scarlet kimono disappearing in the distance” (Christie 241).
Rule #19 • “Twenty rules for writing detective stories” • “19. The motives for all the crimes in detective stories should be personal. International plottings and war politics belong in a different category of fiction- in secret-service tales, for instance. But a murder story must be kept gemutlich, so to speak. It must reflect the reader’s everyday experiences, and give him a certain outlet for his own repressed desires and emotions” (Van Dine). • Explanation: • For Murder on the Orient Express, this formula fits perfectly with the cause of the murder. All twelve passengers were friends or relatives of the Armstrong family, and were gravely affected by Daisy’s murder and how Cassetti got off scot-free. As a reader, I could totally relate to these people once I found out what position they were in and why they wanted to kill such a terrible man. This quote from Christie’s novel below shows how personal issues plays a major role in the murder and story of Murder on the Orient Express. • Murder on the Orient Express: • “Ah, she was an angel- a little sweet, trustful angel. She knew nothing but kindness and love- and she was taken away by that wicked man- cruelly treated- and her poor mother. If you had seen the whole terrible tragedy! I did so rejoice that that evil man was dead- that he could not any more kill or torture little children” (Christie 227).
Does Murder on the orient express fit in with the pattern for whodunits laid out by Van dine? • In Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express, it doesn’t follow some of the rules. Therefore, it doesn’t fit the pattern for many reasons shown. The rules state how there cannot be a love interest for it messes up the story. But in my opinion, it gave Poirot something to sympathize about, for no one would want to jail two people in love. They did it for Daisy, whom everyone on the train cared deeply about. This was a personal issue and the only rule we chose that fit this book. The rest of the rules we chose state formulas that don’t follow Murder on the Orient Express. Rule #12 states how there can only be one culprit, because it has to be committed by a single black nature, but the crime was apparently committed by twelve persons in this book. Rule #11 states that a servant cannot be a worthy culprit, yet there was Ms. Debenham, Hildegarde who was the princess’ servant, and Greta the nursemaid. They all were apart of the crime. Lastly, rule #16 states that there cannot be any long, descriptive passages and side issues. But there were so many in this novel. The fainting of Mrs. Hubbard when she saw the knife in her sponge bag, and the bolts on the doorway. These were all side issues, but they contributed very much to the plot. They also gave us not-so-obvious clues, and that is very beneficial to the mystery reader if noticed. So does following these rules make you a better mystery writer, or give you an agenda when writing? Probably so, or you could just choose to not follow these rules like Agatha Christie and see where it takes you. All the rules we’ve chosen, except rule #19, doesn’t fit with this book. But in all, we think this novel did great for one that doesn’t fit with the patterns and descriptions laid out by Van Dine.
Work Cited • Christie, Agatha. Murder on the Orient Express. Toronto: Bantam, 1983. Print. • Dine, S.S Van. "Twenty Rules for Writing Detective Stories." American Magazine Sept. 1928: n. pag. Web.