I have always been a fan of Agatha Christie’s work – my dream was to have the whole collection (preferably from the same publishing house, like a true and genuine collector would do) when I grow up. Plus, Christie’s mysterious disappearance only added to the mysterious and mystic murder-full world she had created at the tip of her pen. Yet, despite my obvious love for the author and her work, it was hard to situate them into “serious literature”, you know, the kind you would discuss with an English Lit professor or write a paper about. Yet re-reading this classic, I have found my prejudice to be… well, a prejudice.
While the danger of literature lies in not often knowing the fine line that distinguishes expressive works of art from cheap and thoughtless compilation of notes, I believe that its beauty can be found in the fact that one is given the authority to turn any piece of writing into meaningful literature. Although I certainly do NOT have the motivation to write an English Lit paper out of this anymore (or anything else, really), if I had to, the main theme I would have delved into and analyzed would have been: Appearances and Disguises.
From the very start, this book is about how much people tend to rely on appearances and make quick judgments based on them, when things are rarely as they appear. From their physical appearances to their social statuses, many of the passengers on the sinister train are not what one could easily perceive as cold-blooded murderers. Christie is especially keen on unveiling detailed descriptions of each passenger, the way they dress, talk, and hold themselves; only to throw off her readers from the truth. Poirot is the only one to discern the dangers of such obvious appearances and ideas we form from people’s first impressions. On the other hand, his surrounding characters, such as the director of the train company, embody the more easily duped, naive and quick to judge people we often let ourselves be. We can also see question of how human beings are capable of committing a horrible crime being dealt with, especially when they think they have been wronged and when the opportunity of a ‘confined space’ arises.
How much of a disguise do we force ourselves upon us in our everyday lives? Or how much of that disguise comes naturally, and are we aware of how scary and haunting that fact is? How oblivious are we to the disguises those that surround us are letting us see?
These are some of the questions this classic raises.
(Disclaimer: this was a very HARD review to write. I had all the right words and expressions in my head but just couldn’t put them down in writing)