Ending of The Murder of Roger Ackroyd

EponaEpona Edgewood NM, USA Fan
SPOILERS!!  I just finished TMORA and loved it, but I simply don’t get the ending. I understand that the doctor is going to commit suicide rather than face prosecution for the blackmailing and the murder. But other than that, I don’t understand what his suicide accomplishes. The mere fact of his suicide will confirm his guilt, and it won’t save Caroline from shame; it will avoid the spectacle of a trial is all.  I also didn’t understand the point of his manuscript and was confused by Poirot insisting that in the manuscript Ralph Paton could not be guilty of anything.  I thought the manuscript was supposed to be the actual story — which was a very good one — so why would Poirot issue the caution about Ralph Paton?

Comments

  • Tommy_A_JonesTommy_A_Jones Gloucestershire, United Kingdom ✭✭✭✭
    I don't understand your 2nd point but the rest is just as you say, By Committing suicide Shepard is saving Caroline (And him), the shame of a long drawn out trial, it is as simple as that.
  • Dr.SheppardDr.Sheppard Oxford, UK ✭✭✭
    @Epona, it's difficult but you might try and put yourselves in Doctor Sheppard's shoes in the early 1920s. A doctor would have been the pillar of the community, trustworthy, utterly respectable, someone who knows a lot of secrets about the local community. He would not be able to continue his profession in the village and it's more than likely he would be struck off the register of doctors. The truth about the murders would very quickly spread throughout the village, his life would not be worth living in his own eyes.  Ralph Patton was the chief suspect in the eyes of the police all along, so Poirot wanted to make sure that his name was cleared of all suspicion - anything else may have prevented him from marrying Flora.
    Hope that helps.
  • EponaEpona Edgewood NM, USA Fan
    Thanks so much for the thoughts.  My second point, confusingly presented, was that I don't totally understand the role of the manuscript. Poirot thinks the doctor is an excellent writer, and of course he likes the idea of a book being written about himself.  So did Poirot give the doctor some time -- rather than having him immediately arrested -- not just to give him the opportunity to commit suicide, but also to give him the opportunity to finish the manuscript?  A not entirely selfless gesture, in other words.  
  • Dr.SheppardDr.Sheppard Oxford, UK ✭✭✭
    @Epona, I feel it was a confession that Poirot wanted, so that the various points could be clarified and other individuals cleared from any suspicion. If Dr. Sheppard had not written the manuscript I believe that the police would still have been looking into other aspects of the murders, because as with all of these things, Poirot does not always have the answer to the murders he investigates, he needs the culprit to own up to the murder. A good example of this is in the novel Curtain, which was the final Poirot story. 
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