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The Big Sleep, And The Dark Noir

793 words - 4 pages

In the novel, The Big Sleep, the main character, Philip Marlowe, is a prime
example of the hard-boiled detective, found in the noir genre. Merriam Websters'
dictionary defines noir as, "crime fiction featuring hard-boiled cynical characters and
bleak sleazy settings." (Noir) When Philip Marlowe is hired by old man General
Sternwood, to track down a blackmailer, he is immediately thrust into the sleazy, filthy
world of General Sterwoods' two daughters, Carmen and Vivian. Marlowe finds himself
entangled in extortion, kidnapping, pornography, seduction, and murder to name a few
ribald characteristics.
The detective in this genre is usually characterized by several common ...view middle of the document...

Kissing is nice, but your
father didn't hire me to sleep with you." later in the conversation he continues, "Men
have been shot for practically nothing. The first time we met I told you I was a detective.
Get it through your lovely head. I work at it, lady. I don't play at it." (Chandler 151)
Marlowe is not known for his tact, he is cynical and very much a loner. To the hard-
boiled detective relationships are not important, they are only necessary to accomplish
a task. Weather or not he has any remorse over this characteristic is not clear, as it
shows in the final statement of the novel, "On the way downtown I stopped at a bar and
had a couple of double Scotches. They didn't do me any good. All they did was make
me think of silver-wig, and I never saw her again." (Chandler 231)
As a detective, Marlowe represents the law, however, he often steps across the
line into what would be considered lawless behavior. On page 129, Marlowe states "I
had concealed a murder and suppressed evidence for twenty-four hours, but I was still
at large and had a five-hundred-dollar check coming. The smart thing for me to do was
to take another drink and forget the whole mess." All three of these actions were illegal,
yet still Marlowe is...

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