The Big Sleep


Important Quotations Explained

Quotes Important Quotations Explained

Knights had no meaning in this game. It wasn't a game for knights...

Marlowe says this to himself in Chapter 24 when Carmen is lying naked in his bed, when he is forced to call upon his chivalry once again and get her dressed and home. These lines point out how out of place Marlowe is in a world dominated by kings, queens, and other "pieces of chess"—other people who are richer, more powerful, and sneakier. Chandler is telling us that even a knight has his moments of doubt in the world of The Big Sleep. When Marlowe kills Canino, for instance, Marlowe says he did not give Canino long enough "to be a gentleman of the old school"—in other words, he could not wait that long to kill Canino. Perhaps Marlowe says such a thing because he knows that, in such a dangerous world, knights are not valued and they do not always win. Marlowe knows he has to kill Canino; this is, then, perhaps the only scene in which Marlowe takes off his knightly armor and fights like a man of the streets.