‘Beware! Peril to the detective who says: “It is so small – it does not matter. It will not agree. I will forget it.” That way lies confusion! Everything matters’.
to Hastings in The Mysterious Affair At Styles
A foreigner in the midst of a quiet English village, the Belgian detective came to the country as a refugee due to the Great War. Opinions were divided concerning his distinctive appearance and mannerism, for there were no traces of stiff upper-lip-attitude in Poirot.
Furthermore, his seemingly overconfidence was frowned upon, just as his approach in solving a murder case by “sitting and thinking” while employing the grey cells of his. Be that as it may, everyone marvels at his ingenuity.
Nobody would say that Poirot did not dress impeccably. Perhaps his wearing a pair of patent boots bewildered many. Yet he was unperturbed, for people’s perceptions about him mattered little.
Instead of alcohols he would have a chocolate drink (tisane) in the morning and sipped a cup of coffee in the evening. Sirop de cassis was also in order, which sometimes made Ariadne Oliver shudder.
Despite a degree of eccentricity in him, he was a very good listener. He had good eyes and his attention to details was remarkable. To criticism he did not waver and respond their remarks matter-of-factly. He lost his temper not because of someone’s remark, but having realised either he had overlooked to see something or arranged the facts wrongly.
His “foreignness” was turned as an asset. He did not argue and would only talk at length about his disagreement to English’s way of thinking to the people whom he trusted in private. As a result, he earned a wide network of people from all walks of life who were more than happy to assist him – Inspector Japp and Colonel Hastings became his partner in crime in the investigation.
Above all, he was very grateful as to what Britain had done to him: a second chance in life.
The following is what I come across while reading: Poirot in his own words on a number of subjects.
On His Background:
‘See you, as a boy I was poor. There were many of us. We had to get on in the world. I entered the Police Force. I worked hard. Slowly I rose in that Force. I began to make a name for myself. I made a name for myself. I began to acquire an international reputation. At last, I was due to retire. There came the war. I was injured. I came, a sad and weary refugee, to England. A kind lady gave me hospitality. She died – not naturally; no, she was killed. Eh bien, I set my wits to work. I employed my little grey cells. I discovered her murderer. I found that I was not yet finished. No, indeed, my powers were stronger than ever. Then began my second career, that of a private inquiry agent in England. I have solved many fascinating and baffling problems. Ah, monsieur, I have lived!The psychology of human nature, it is wonderful. I grew rich. Some day, I said to myself, I will have all the money I need. I will realize all my dreams’.
to Mr. Satterthwaite in Three-Act Tragedy
On His English:
Mr. Satterthwaite: ‘Why do you sometimes speak perfectly good English and at other times not?’
Poirot laughed. ‘Ah, I will explain then. It is true that I can speak the exact, the idiomatic English. But, my friend, to speak the broken English is an enormous asset. It leads people to despise you. They say – a foreigner – he can’t even speak English properly. It is not my policy to terrify people – instead I invite their gentle ridicule. Also I boast! An Englishman he says often, “ A fellow who thinks as much of himself as that cannot be worth much”. That is the English point of view. It is not at all true. And so, you see, I put people off their guard. Besides,’ he added,’it has become a habit’.
Mr. Sattherthwaite: ‘Dear me, quite the cunning of the serpent’.
‘Mademoiselle, if you are not married, it is because none of my sex have been sufficiently eloquent. It is from choice, not necessity, that you remain single’
His advice to Rosamund Darnley in Evil Under The Sun
‘I am old. I tire easily. But the cells-they still function. Slowly- but they function…’
in The Mystery of Spanish Chest