Exotic Daydreams


Anthony Eastwood’s imagination is what led him to meet a foreign woman who in part inspired him to write his new novel.

In “The Mystery of the Spanish Shawl” by Agatha Christie, Anthony Eastwood’s imagination went wild as he was trying to think of new material for a story. Eastwood discusses the female characters he writes most about with an ivory pallor and big eyes. His editor also prefers female characters with exotic, foreign qualities. Then in his daydream, he meets a woman that matches this description precisely. “She really had the ivory pallor… And her eyes!… She was not English, that could be seen at a glance. She had a foreign exotic quality” (190-191). This description of the woman in the upstairs shop room describes the type of character Eastwood was thinking about right before his daydream began. It would be too coincidental for this to have been reality. Her ivory pallor is parallel to the character of Sonia or Dolores in which Eastwood was debating about putting in “The Mystery of the Second Cucumber.” Being able to tell she is foreign at a glance and describing her as having exotic qualities implicates that she is the type of character Eastwood’s editor would want in a story. Eastwood’s desire to think of a great new mystery novel to make money would encourage him to want to include elements that his editor would pay a lot of money for. Eastwood’s worry about finding a new plot and his ideas impacted his daydream by pulling in pieces of his thoughts into a coherent, mysterious adventure.

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3 comments

  1. When I first read this story, I also thought that there was no way that the narrator could be physically going on this adventure. However, today in class, I was forced to think about the other possibility, that this journey indeed took place in reality. Most of the arguments for the reality side can be refuted in my mind, but there is one that I cannot come up with a rebuttal for. This reason in the liquor set that is left at Eastwood’s door. Others may say that this happening is still a part of his day dream. However, this happens after the Anthony has realized that he is day dreaming and has come out of said day dream. I know there is a lot more evidence for this journey being told by Eastwood’s imagination, but because of this troubling detail, I cannot seem to come to a decision of whether or not the entire story was a day dream.

  2. We could be looking at this all wrong. It’s a story. A work of fiction. Who is to say that, by the time he starts typing his story, Anthony even had to wake fully from his day dream. He had to keep his inspiration for the story strong to get it down on paper. So He imagines his house empty of all his valuable trinkets. He sits at his typewriter typing away, and at the corner of his desk, where his eyes keep flickering to for just a little more detail of that girl, is the liquor set. An author’s imagination is a very powerful thing.

  3. While I agree with your analysis over this portion of the text that this may likely be a daydream, I would have to disagree if Christie’s entire work was analyzed. As pointed out by adonovan5, the liquor set may be one example of the physical reality of the story. However, I would argue that the conversation with the inspector is the best evidence for the argument that Anthony’s adventure is real as the inspector responds to “A–a Spanish girl?” with “She might call herself that. She was born in Hampstead” (203). With this response, it is clear that the narrator is facing disappointment from an outside force of his daydream. This distinction of disappointment is a harsh contrast with the seemingly perfect flow from the earlier part of the story, and it illustrates the shocking nature of life.

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