In “The Mystery of the Spanish Shawl” by Agatha Christie, the word cucumber is used to foreshadow the occurrence of Anthony Eastwood getting into a “pickle” or a difficult situation.
In this story, the cucumber is used as opposed to any other vegetable because it can be soaked in vinegar and turned into a pickle which makes it a good candidate to represent the difficult situations Anthony Eastwood gets himself into. Anthony was not in distress when he first typed “cucumber”, or even when he said it to the old lady in the shop. The trouble happened when he acted upon the word and marched up the stairs the old woman pointed out after the “cucumber” pass code was said, right into the vinegar, and got himself in a pickle. He walked straight into the trap set by the girl at the top of the stairs as he was “never one to miss opportunities, [and] echoed her fervently” (p.191). It seemed that his curiosity was the vinegar in this case. The “cucumber” by itself, or just saying that word, was not the problem; the situation was only aggravated by Anthony’s curiosity, but he would not have gotten himself into a pickle if there had not been a cucumber in the first place. It seemed that the longer he spent with the girl, trying to satisfy his curiosity, the longer he metaphorically soaked in the vinegar, which gave her accomplices time to get there and completely put him in a pickle. In this way, the word “cucumber” seemed to foreshadow trouble for Anthony. If Anthony had suppressed his curiosity and had not acted upon the word cucumber, he would not have gotten himself into a problematic situation.