Raymond Chandler's Writing Style In The Big Sleep

934 words - 4 pages

Raymond Chandler's Writing Style in The Big Sleep

   Unique writing style is definitely an essential element in any piece of writing, and Raymond Chandler uses his style efficiently in The Big Sleep. Chandler's style is one that seems to come easily to him and it also seems very natural to the reader, perhaps because there is not a lot of high, eloquent language. Rich in description and dialogue, the characters seem more realistic to the reader as a result of such details and natural speech. Chandler includes many descriptive words, similes, metaphors; yet they are not complicated or ambiguous which may lead to misinterpretations. He also tends to focus on a few major aspects of the characters, repeating those characteristics again each time the person appears in the scene. Writing about the characters in this way engages the reader and makes for a more realistic and interesting novel.


When examining each character, it is simple to pick out the key aspects which Chandler wishes the reader to grasp, often using Phillip Marlowe to do so showing how is extremely observant and detail-oriented. He is able to pick up on details right away and describe them perfectly. Introduced first is Carmen Sternwood. Chandler writes a paragraph about what Marlowe first notices about her. Chandler describes her hair, eyes, and body, yet it is her teeth which Chandler focuses on. He writes, "Shecame over near me and smiled with her mouth and she had little sharp predatory teeth, as white as fresh orange pith and as shiny as porcelain" (5). This description is a simple yet effective one because of the images used: images that are not complicated and the reader can relate to. They are common items which most people are familiar with: orange pith and porcelain. From this point on, the reader will most likely remember this description when Carmen is in the scene. The impression the reader gathers about Carmen from the first conversation she has with Marlowe and the description is that she is immature and very childlike. Contrary to the description of Carmen, Marlowe's description of Mrs. Regan's is one which allows the reader to see she is a more sophisticated and intelligent woman


Marlowe meets Mrs. Regan and immediately notices her legs which he believes she intentionally positioned for him to stare at. He goes into great detail saying, "The knees were dimpled, not bony and sharp. The calves were beautiful, the ankles long and slim and with enough melodic line for a tone poem" (17). Chandler allows Marlowe to quickly notice such things and as a ...

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