By R.A. York
This examine exhibits how she sought to reconcile her attachment to the Victorian earlier along with her acceptance of a brand new society that undermined status quo and in doing so gave extra possibilities to ladies, harassed class-boundaries, prolonged tolerance, allowed the cult of enjoyment and self-assertion and published the ambiguities of respectability.
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Extra resources for Agatha Christie: Power and Illusion
But it would be barely possible to follow the story, still less to make any sensible guess at the solution, unless we could presume some level of accuracy. Unreliable narrators such as the Grossmiths’ Mr Pooter or Dostoevsky’s underground man can usually be recognized as such quite early in the The Wrong Angle 27 course of their narration; Christie, on the contrary, allows these small details to accumulate in such a way that their falsity becomes apparent only in the last chapter. To this extent she exploits the conventions, not only of the detective story, but of first-person fictional narration, and so allows error to persist.
If we mean what they can do and what they have made of themselves – if we think of identity as choice and action – then the adoption of a new self is admirable, a sign of vigour and competence. If we mean what their family origins are and what responsibilities they may have contracted – if we think of identity as continuity and openness – the change of the self is a result of inauthenticity. One may easily say that since most of these transformations have criminal or improper motivations, Christie must have been inclined to disapprove of them.
In Murder is Easy, it is assumed that the murderer must have some reason for hostility to the numerous victims. In After the Funeral, it is assumed that Richard Abernethie has been murdered for his inheritance; in fact, he has not been murdered at all, and the murders that do take place are motivated by an art theft. The aim of the detective story, Bayard comments (2000, 25), is to prevent an idea from taking shape: it is the prevention of thought. The point is a profound one, if provocatively put: in reading we yield our own knowledge to the continuing plausibility of the author’s text; there is a pleasure in abandoning our real knowledge and our real habits of deduction or interpretation, and the detective story ultimately shocks us by highlighting the falsity of what we have accepted.