Christie, Agatha - Death Comes As The End


Presentation / Essay (Pre-University), 2001

6 Pages, Grade: 1 (A)


Free online reading

Sandra Ludwig page 1

DEATH COMES AS THE END

by Agatha Christie

CHARACTERS:

Esa: old & wise; finds out quite soon who the murderer is

Imhotep: Ka-priest; expects everyone to be thankful that they´re allowed to live in his house

Yahmose: eldest son; during his father´s absence on the Northern Estates the management of the farmlands is in his hands (because: Sobek is too wild -> Imhotep doesn´t trust him; Ipy is too young; Hori is not a member of the family); slow, prudent; heavy built, slow moving

Sobek: tough, very rough; annoyed that his father doesn´t trust him

Renisenb: is happy that no one and nothing has changed while she was away;

when she meets Kameni for the first time, she has the impression that it´s Khay she sees

Ipy: thinks he´s very clever and important; wants to be older, so that he could take responsibility for the farmlands

Satipy: domineering, bullying, tall, energetic, loud-tongued; handsome in a hard commanding kind of way

Kait: broad, plain-faced; devoted to her children, seldom thinks or speaks about anything else; always arguing with Satipy not members of the family:

Henet: unattractive, stupid; always knows what is going on; claims to be devoted to everyone

Hori: Imhotep´s „man of affairs“; he has known Renisenb since she was a girl, likes her very much

Kameni: scribe, comes from Imhotep´s estates in the north; young, handsome, strong

Sandra Ludwig page 2

Nofret: 19 years old; comes from the north (Memphis); very beautiful, but venomous, ambitious, hard; a girl who doesn´t forgive

FAMILY TREE:

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

MURDERS:

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

DEATH COMES AS THE END by Agatha Christie

It is Egypt in 2000 BC. Seeking peace after her husband´s death Renisenb returns to her father´s house on the banks of the Nile. At first it seems as if she´s never been away.

Nothing is changed at all. But Hori points out to her that there is always change, although she may not notice it.

When her father returns from the Northern Estates everyone is really excited and looking forward to meeting him again - especially Renisenb, who hasn´t seen him for 8 years. But everyone is in the doldrums when Imhotep introduces his concubine Nofret to them. She is an arrogant young woman with a cold look in her eyes. Imhotep has brought her from the North to dwell with his family while he is away.

They know that the peaceful time is past. Nofret stirs the whole family up against each other. Renisenb is always friendly to Nofret, bus she usually snarls at Renisenb.

(Later Renisenb finds out why Nofret hated her: Nofret and Kameni had known each other before they came to Thebes. She was in love with him, but he wasn´t, because he took to Renisenb straightaway. )

Walking to the Tomb (It was the Tomb of the great Noble Meriptah and Imhotep was the mortuary priest responsible for its upkeep. All the estate and land was part of the endowment of the Tomb.)

Renisenb and Hori see Sobek killing a snake - imagining that it is Nofret he kills. Most agree that she´d deserve to die like a snake but no one dares to say it.

Now it is certain that the greed, lust and hatred that are lurking beneath the calm surface will soon explode to murder.

Some weeks after her arrival Nofret´s broken, twisted body is found lying at the foot of the cliff. She probably plunged off the edge of the path and fell down onto the rocks below. Satipy is the first who sees her; when she sees Renisenb walking up the path she tries to prevent her from going on, but it doesn´t work.

Imhotep comes home again as soon as possible and they prepare Nofret´s funeral.

Everything seems to be alright and peaceful again - now that Nofret is dead. No one even dares to think that it was NOT an accident. After all, that would mean that there is a murderer with them Since Nofret´s “accident” a lot there has changed: Satipy isn´t bullying Yahmose any longer, she seems to be more peaceable. Although she becomes more and more pale and weak, she claims that she´s feeling well.

One afternoon Satipy and Yahmose go for a walk up to the Tomb. Reaching the place where Nofret died, Satipy suddenly loses her footing and falls down onto the rocks below. Renisenb and Hori are walking near that place and they see the accident. There has been a terrified look in Satipy´s eyes and with her last ounce of strength she whispers “Nofret!”. Everyone assumes that Nofret returned to take revenge on Satipy killing her. They feel convinced that the clue to the truth of Nofret´s death is in Satipy´s extraordinary change of character.

Sandra Ludwig page 4

Yahmose doesn´t seem to be much worried about his wife´s death. After all she´d been bullying him all day long.

Imhotep arranges an partnership. He is associating with himself and his eldest sons: Yahmose and Sobek.

They are drinking wine and a general feeling of hilarity is felt. Suddenly the two brothers are both groaning with pain. The wine has been poisoned! Sobek, who drunk much more than Yahmose, dies immediately.

It takes a few weeks, but then Yahmose is okay again. Ipy is suspected of having poisoned the wine. he has been really annoyed because of being excluded from the participation on the ground of his extreme youth.

Next morning one of Yahmose´s herd boys tells Imhotep that he saw a woman wearing a dress of dyed linen and a magnificent necklace. The woman walked to the wine jar, held her hands over it and disappeared again.

After that description Imhotep is sure that Nofret is up to no good in his family. Fear is what has been with them ever since Nofret died.

A day after that the herd boy is found poisoned.

It was by the lake they found Ipy a few days later. He was sprawled face downwards with his face in the water where a hand had held him while he drowned.

Esa, a very wise woman, tries to find out who the murderer is. As the other suspects are dead now, it is Henet she suspects. She wants to interrogate Henet in front of the gathered family, but Imhotep defends her.

The old woman realises that age is at last taking toll on her. She is perplexed and very weary. One night she wakes with a strange sensation of coldness. Her feet, her hands are numbed and dead... She can feel it numbing her brain, paralysing her will, slowing down the beat of her heart This, she thinks, is how the old die. But then, a surer conviction comes to her. This is NOT natural death! This is the Enemy striking out of the darkness... It´s nearly impossible that poison is the vehicle that was employed. All she has eaten and drunk has been tested by a slave.

Suddenly Esa realises how the Enemy has done this thing: the poison has been put in the pot of unguent made of wool fat - so it could be absorbed by her skin and now it´s killing her...

Imhotep is thankful that here is a natural death unaided by men or by evil spirit. After all, his mother has died naturally enough of old age...

But Hori and Renisenb are doubtful that it really was a natural death old Esa died. They´re rather sure that she was killed, because she showed her suspicions too openly. She became a danger to the Enemy and so she had to be “removed”.

Although it isn´t the right time for a wedding, Imhotep wants Renisenb to marry Kameni. He is young and strong and they love each other. Moreover, if anything shall happen to Yahmose and Imhotep, Renisenb will need a man to stand by her.

One day Henet brings a message from Hori to Renisenb: She shall go up to the Tomb an hour before sunset. Renisenb is surprised that he hasn´t told her himself, but she is looking forward to meeting him there.

Sandra Ludwig page 5

After giving the message to Renisenb, Henet goes into the linen storeroom. Suddenly there is a movement behind the bales of linen. Then a great width of linen is thrown over her, stiffing her mouth and nose. An inexorable hand winds the fabric round and round her body, swathing her like a corpse until her struggles cease...

An hour before sunset Renisenb walks up the path to the Tomb, wondering what Hori is going to tell her. Lost in thought, she suddenly hears footsteps.

Her heart gives a sudden leap of fear. The enemy is following her - Nofret is following her... Turning her head she feels a great throb of relief. It is Yahmose walking behind her. She greets him and asks where he is going to.

But this is not the Yahmose she knows - the gentle kindly brother. He is looking at her and the look in her eyes is unmistakable. It is the look of a man who killed and is about to kill again. She used to think that her brother loved her - but there is no love in that inhuman face. Yahmose rushes forward and his hands long to fasten round her throat... Before he can strangle her, an arrow comes through the air and gets stuck in Yahmose´s back. With a loud cry he drops dead. When Renisenb turns around she sees Hori, the bow still held to his shoulder...

Renisenb, numbed by the shock, still can´t believe it. Hori is with her, trying to calm her down.

Now that the Enemy is dead, it is not death that faces Renisenb, but life. With whom will she share that life? With Kameni or with Hori? They both love her.

Kameni would take the place that Khay held in her life. They´d be happy and they´d have strong, handsome children.

But a strong feeling deep inside her tells her that Hori is the right husband for her. They are more than just friends - they are like soulmates. Renisenb knows, with Hori standing by her, she won´t have to fear death anymore!

------ THE END ------

Interpretation:

Everyone in Thebes was convinced that the coming of Nofret brought evil. That was not true. The evil was already here concealed within the hearts of the household. All that Nofret´s coming did was to bring it from its hidden place into the light. Her presence banished concealment. Kait´s gentle motherliness had turned to ruthless egoism for herself and her young. Sobek was no longer the gay and charming young man, but the boastful dissipated weakling. Ipy was not so much a spoilt, attractive child as a scheming, selfish boy. Through Henet´s pretended devotion, the venom began to show clearly. Satipy showed herself as a bully and a coward. Imhotep himself had degenerated into a fussy, pompous tyrant. (...)

But Yahmose seemed always the same. That is why he aroused suspicion. For the others, by reason of their temperaments, could get relief. But Yahmose has always been timid, easily ruled, and with never enough courage to rebel. He loved Imhotep and worked hard to please Sandra Ludwig page 6

him; and Imhotep found him well-meaning but stupid and slow. He despised him. Satipy, too, treated Yahmose with all of the scorn of a bullying nature. Slowly his burden of resentment, concealed but deeply felt, grew heavier. The meeker he seemed, the more his inward anger grew.

It was Nofret, and perhaps Nofret´s beauty, that kindled the final spark. She attacked the manhood of all three brothers. She touched Sobek on the raw by her scorn of him as a fool, she infuriated Ipy by treating him as a truculent child without any claim to manhood, and she showed Yahmose that he was something less than a man in her eyes. (...) It was her jeers, her taunt that she was a better man than he, that finally sapped his self-control. He met Nofret on this path and - driven beyond endurance - he threw her down. (...)

From down below Satipy saw it happen. She was hanging around, fearful, uncertain what to do; then she saw Renisenb coming and tried to head her off. (...)

The person she feared was Yahmose. She stopped bullying him and instead was eager to obey him in every way. It had been a terrible shock to her. Yahmose, whom she despised as the meekest of men, had actually been the one to kill Nofret. This new Yahmose terrified her. In her fear she began to talk in her sleep. Yahmose soon realised that she was a danger to him... It was not a spirit Satipy saw that caused her to fall. She saw in the face of the man following her - her own husband - the intention to throw her down as he had thrown that other woman. In her fear she backed away from him and fell. An when, with her dying lips, she shaped the word Nofret, she was trying to tell Renisenb that Yahmose killed Nofret. (Why these other killings?) All his life Yahmose had had, perhaps, a longing for violence and had been unable to achieve it. He despised his own meek, submissive role. The killing of Nofret gave him a great sense of power. He realised it first because of Satipy’s strange behaviour.

Sobek and Ipy were, one handsomer, the other cleverer than he - so they must go. He, Yahmose, was to be the ruler of the house, and his father´s only comfort and stay!

Satipy´s death increased the actual pleasure of killing. He felt more powerful as a result of it. His mind began to give way - from then on evil possessed him utterly. Renisenb was not a rival. As far as he still could, he loved her. But the idea that her husband should share with him in the estate was not on to be borne. So he wanted to “remove” his sister, too. Yahmose, watched by Hori (whom he did not know suspected him) could be caught in the act, and fortunately prevented from killing Renisenb.

6 of 6 pages

Details

Title
Christie, Agatha - Death Comes As The End
Grade
1 (A)
Author
Year
2001
Pages
6
Catalog Number
V105449
File size
408 KB
Language
English
Tags
Christie, Agatha, Death, Comes
Quote paper
Ludwig, Sandra (Author), 2001, Christie, Agatha - Death Comes As The End, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/105449

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