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Old 10-23-2005, 02:40 AM
Cunctator Cunctator is offline
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Agatha Christie question: Five Little Pigs (spoilers)

I'm curious about a reference in the Agatha Christie novel Five Little Pigs. It relates to a question that Poirot asks one of the suspects.

During the novel, Poirot questions the main suspects. At the end of his investigation he goes back to each of the suspects and asks them one question. When he comes to Angela Warren, sister-in-law of the murdered man, he asks her whether, at the time of the murder, she had recently read Somerset Maugham's The Moon and Sixpence. She agrees that she had recently read it.

I haven't read the Maugham work. What reference in Angela Warren's account of the murder gives rise to Poirot's question?
Old 10-23-2005, 03:38 AM
Larry Mudd Larry Mudd is offline
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It's been forever since I read Five Little Pigs, and to be honest I don't remember Poirot asking that at all. Can you quote it, with a little context?

It seems an odd question -- but there's a connection between Five Little Pigs and Moon and Sixpence. Moon and Sixpence is about a fellow who turns away from his wife in order to paint -- with special emphasis on one particular girl. He dies. He ain't murdered, but it's a clear consequence of his selfishness.
Old 10-23-2005, 07:06 PM
Cunctator Cunctator is offline
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Thanks for the info about the main theme of The Moon and Sixpence Larry. There are certainly some parallels with the plot of Five Little Pigs.

But I'm still not sure why Poirot asks the question of the suspect who was a young girl at the time of the murder. I don't have the actual text with me at the moment, but the context is:
- after reading the accounts of the murder provided by the five suspects, Poirot visits them all, asking each one in turn a single question.
- when he gets to the final suspect (Angela Warren) he doesn't actually have a specific question to ask her, but he feels he has to just to round out the symmetry of the process.
- so he asks her whether she had, at the time of the murder, recently read The Moon and Sixpence.
- she's rather surprised by the question, but agrees that she had just read the book. She asks Poirot how he knew that.
- Poirot answers something like "I won't divulge all of my tricks just now". And that's the last we hear of the matter.
Old 10-23-2005, 08:40 PM
Leaper Leaper is online now
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First of all, for those who're confused, you might've read this book under the title Murder in Retrospect (which I actually like better).

Secondly, I think I see the connection.

Remember Angela's role in this whole thing. She "spiked" Amyas' beer out of spite at the way he was treating her sister. I think this was a guess on Poirot's part, based on his knowledge of Angela, as an indicator of what he'd already deduced about her spiking the beer. He figured that she was probably in a "vulnerable" state of mind, having recently read Moon, thinking about the parallels between the book and her life, stewing and stewing until she decided to lash out at her brother-in-law. I guess Christie also meant it as a hint as to what she'd done.

I hope I made sense, there.
Old 10-24-2005, 12:08 AM
Cunctator Cunctator is offline
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Thanks Leaper. That makes sense in a general sort of way. I flipped through a copy of The Moon and Sixpence in a bookshop at lunchtime:

It seems pretty clear that it influenced Agatha Christie in her portayal of Amyas Crale, particularly in descriptions of his artistic style. I thought though that the link to Angela Warren might have been more direct...say, an example in the Maugham work of someone spiking a drink with valerian or something like that. Probably just wishful thinking on my part.


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