Are you wondering what makes Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None the perfect novel to both captivate and instruct your students? Mystery solved.

If your students have ever played Clue, attended a murder mystery party, or even watched reality TV, they’ll be right at home reading the thrilling novel And Then There Were None in which 10 strangers are invited to a mansion on Soldier Island and killed off one by one. Students will explore not only the question of “Who Dunnit?” but also, why? Were these deaths justified? What is justice, exactly?

As students excitedly look for clues about the murderer, they will be exposed to classic mystery tropes like the red herring, the anti-hero, and the “everyone is a suspect” mentality that make Christie’s works so famous. Facilitate conversation about these techniques: What effect do they have on how the reader perceives the story? Why might they have withstood the test of time?

Invite students to use their imagination with fun projects. In groups, they can reimagine what the novel might look like adapted as a reality TV show or documentary. They could also write or enact important scenes from the perspective of one of the characters. For further immersion into Christie’s world, you might even consider hosting a murder mystery party in class based on the events of the novel; along the way, students will identify and familiarize themselves with the literary techniques of the genre and their effects.

And Then There Were None is one of the most famous mystery novels of all time; for this reason, there are countless options for comparison. Allow students to draw conclusions about similarities, differences, successes, and failures among related modern media. Possibilities include Clue, Gosford Park, The Thing, Scream, The Usual Suspects, and the mini-series Edgar Allan Poe’s Murder Mystery Dinner Party.

For more details about And Then There Were None, including online resources, themes, and related works, check out the rest of this post!

Summary of And Then There Were None

Key Facts

  • Publication Date: 1939 (UK); 1940 (US)
  • Length: 272 pages
  • Lexile® Measure: 570
  • Recommended Grade Band: 9-10
  • Ranked sixth best-selling single-volume book of all time (~100 million in sales)

Based on the childhood poem “Ten Little Soldier Boys,” And Then There Were None is a tale of murder, intrigue, and deceit. Ten strangers are invited to a mansion on Soldier Island (See what she did there?), but events take an ugly turn when the guests are killed one by one. Soon, they realize the murderer must be among them. Through gruesome twists and turns, the reader eventually discovers the murderer to be Justice Wargrave, who faked his own death to ward off suspicion. It turns out that each guest in the mansion had committed a crime, and Justice Wargrave had brought them all there to seek vicious revenge.

Content Warning: This novel contains instances of violence and death.

What Your Students Will Love About And Then There Were None

  • Trying to crack the murder case by looking for clues in the text
  • The plot twist at the end
  • Recognizing famous mystery tropes

Potential Student Struggles With And Then There Were None

  • Some early 1900s British slang
  • Keeping track of who died and how

Learning Objectives for Teaching And Then There Were None

  • Identify various mystery story tropes and explain their significance to the reader’s experience.
  • Trace themes of justice, deceit, and isolation throughout the text.
  • Analyze symbols, such as the seaweed, the storm, and Justice Wargrave’s name.
  • Discuss why the novel is one of the most popular of all time and why it is still relevant today.
  • Compare this novel with modern-day books and media that employ similar devices.

Literary Elements in And Then There Were None

  • Anti-Hero
  • Character Motivation
  • Imagery
  • Plot
  • Red Herring
  • Suspense
  • Symbolism
  • Theme

Major Themes in And Then There Were None

Justice — Justice is served by none other than the justice among the characters, Wargrave. Was his murderous rampage ethical because everyone who died was a criminal, or was his violence completely senseless?

Related Works:

Deception — The guests at the mansion lie not only to each other, but to themselves about their various crimes and misdoings. This level of deceit brings about the motif of both legal and personal guilt. Clearly, their lies come back to haunt them in the end.

Related Works:

Isolation — Close quarters and separation from civilization breed a high level of paranoia and mistrust among the 10 guests.

Related Works:

Other Resources for And Then There Were None

Resource Format
And Then There Were None Paperback Student Edition
And Then There Were None Teaching Unit Reproducible Downloadable 30-Book Set
And Then There Were None Activity Pack Reproducible Downloadable 30-Book Set
And Then There Were None Response Journal Reproducible Downloadable 30-Book Set
And Then There Were None Complete Teacher's Kit Reproducible Downloadable 30-Book Set

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