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The Big Sleep

Key Facts

Main ideas Key Facts

full title · The Big Sleep

author ·  Raymond Chandler

type of work ·  Novel

genre ·  Crime novel; detective novel; mystery; noir; Los Angeles fiction

language ·  English

time and place written ·  Late 1930s, Los Angeles

date of first publication ·  1939

publisher ·  Alfred Knopf

narrator ·  Philip Marlowe, a private detective, describes the actions that take place as he describes the commission at hand

point of view ·  First person

tone ·  The author and narrator share the same tone of darkness and cynical romanticism

tense ·  Immediate past

setting (time) ·  1930s

setting (place) ·  Los Angeles

protagonist ·  Philip Marlowe

major conflict ·  Detective Philip Marlowe is hired to take care of a blackmailing case involving a man named Arthur Gwynn Geiger, a pornographer whose death causes many other deaths. The novel also concerns the search for Rusty Regan, which occupies the second half of the book and becomes a second plot line

rising action ·  The murder of Geiger; the death of Owen Taylor; Brody's blackmailing and death; Carol Lundgren's capture; Agnes's partnership with Harry Jones and, earlier, Joe Brody; the finding of Mona Grant; Carmen's appearance in Marlowe's bed; General Sternwood's admission of wanting to find Rusty Regan; Carmen's attempt to murder Marlowe in the oilfields

climax ·  Carmen attempts to kill Marlowe in the abandoned oil field, causing Marlowe to put the pieces of the Rusty Regan puzzle together and link it with the rest of the plot

falling action ·  Marlowe's explanation to Vivian Sternwood of what he knows about Rusty Regan causing her to confess to the disposal of her husband's body and causing her to promise to help Carmen towards a cure for her madness.

themes ·  The cynicism of 1930s America; the corruption of American society

motifs ·  The knight; the weather

symbols ·  The greenhouse; the orchids; the stained glass; the chessboard

foreshadowing ·  The portrait and its dark eyes; the stained glass; the weather