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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