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The Big Sleep

Important Quotations Explained

Quotes Important Quotations Explained

She's a grifter, shamus. I'm a grifter. We're all grifters. So we sell each other out for a nickel...

Harry Jones says these words to Marlowe near the end of Chapter 25. He describes the mood of 1930s Los Angeles and the position of many during the period in which The Big Sleep was written. The novel reflects the time in which it was written—the Great Depression—conveying a tone tinged with 1930s pessimism. In any case, this passage describes an entire breed of criminal present during that time. It speaks not of the thoroughly evil Eddie Mars nor the crazed Carmen, the smart and conniving Vivian nor the corrupt General Sternwood, nor of the crooked cops—rather, it describes the kind of criminal closer to the mold of Agnes Lozelle and Harry Jones: criminals because they have nothing left to lose, because they have nowhere else to turn. In evoking such a character type, Chandler creates adds to the seedy mood and cynical tone of The Big Sleep.