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The Big Sleep

Raymond Chandler

Important Quotations Explained

Quotes Important Quotations Explained

I was wearing my powder-blue suit... I was neat, clean, shaved and sober, and I didn't care who knew it. I was everything the well-dressed private detective ought to be. I was calling on four million dollars.

Philip Marlowe, the protagonist of The Big Sleep, thinks this in the very first paragraph of the novel. The passage is an important signifier of mood and tone: its phrasing and word choice are typical of Marlowe's speaking style and of Chandler's writing style. These lines also point to the fact that Marlowe's clean and sober appearance is not a regular occurrence—in fact, it may not be a regular occurrence for anyone in the novel. However, it is of utmost significance that Marlowe is willing to look a certain way because he is "calling on four million dollars." This opening paragraph places importance on money and sets the stage for murders and crimes that will be committed for money alone.