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Die Heuning Pot Literature Guide
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Analysis

Literary Devices in The Big Sleep

Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory

Setting

The Big Sleep is set in 1930s Los Angeles and Hollywood during the Depression. Even though we usually associate Hollywood with sultry palm trees and sunny skies, Chandler instead portrays L.A. as a...

Narrator Point of View

Exactly what kind of narrator is Marlowe? Technically speaking, the type of narration in The Big Sleep is called a first person limited point of view. It's first person because Marlowe is the "I" w...

Genre

Okay, so it's pretty obvious that The Big Sleep falls under the genre of mystery since it's about a detective trying to solve a crime. We have many of the standard elements found in a good mystery...

Tone

We know that working as a private detective has made Marlowe disillusioned by all the corruption he sees, so it's no surprise that the tone of the novel is primarily dark and pessimistic. Let's tak...

Writing Style

Chandler is most known for his contributions to the development of what is usually referred to as a "hardboiled" writing style. Marlowe never minces his words or beats around the bush. He is blunt,...

What's Up With the Title?

The Big Sleep isn't exactly the catchiest of titles. It's not as blood curdling as Murder, She Wrote or as hair-raising as Conan Doyle's The Hound of the Baskervilles. We don't even find out w...

What's Up With the Ending?

The ending of The Big Sleep doesn't have the same wow factor of a Sherlock Holmes novel, where Holmes ties together all the loose threads in a virtuoso display of intellectual superiority over his...

Tough-o-Meter

How hard can it be read a detective novel, right? The Big Sleep is definitely a page-turner, but don't be fooled into thinking it'll be a walk in the park. You might not believe it, but Chandler's...

Plot Analysis

Marlowe Takes a CaseWe find out in the opening pages that Marlowe, as a private detective, faces a ton of difficult, moral decisions on how to best serve his client at every turn. Does he do everyt...

Booker's Seven Basic Plots Analysis

Marlowe lives in the corrupt, crime-ridden streets of the City of Angels, and he's hired by General Sternwood to dig up information on a blackmailer named Geiger. Usually when we think of stories f...

Three-Act Plot Analysis

Marlowe is hired by General Sternwood to discover why Geiger is blackmailing him. As Marlowe follows the trail of clues, he stumbles on Geiger's dead body and finds out that Carmen is somehow mixed...

Trivia

Sure, Chandler may have ragged on Hollywood in his novels, but that didn't stop him from writing screenplays, including the script of Double Indemnity, which was a huge film noir hit. Chandler even...

Steaminess Rating

The Big Sleep is simultaneously a steamy and a not-so-steamy novel. On the one hand, it's racy because Carmen Sternwood appears completely naked not once, but twice, and the blackmail plot of the n...

Allusions

Marcel Proust (11.2) Sherlock Holmes (30.74) Philo Vance (30.74) Pinkertons (11.10) The Quints (11.7)Ben Hur (5.23)Charlie Chan (5.31)
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