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Questions

The Big Sleep Questions

Bring on the tough stuff - there’s not just one right answer.
  1. Can Marlowe be considered a modern-day knight if 1930s American society no longer knows what it means to be chivalrous? How is Marlowe's cynicism toward life a reflection of the larger sense of disillusionment felt by society in Depression-era L.A.?
  2. Chandler is famous for his "hardboiled" writing style. What aspects of the novel make it hardboiled? How does Chandler achieve such a dark tone through his writing style?
  3. How are women portrayed in this novel? Do women exercise any power over the male characters, and if so, what kind of power do they have and what is significant about it? What is Marlowe's opinion of women? And be honest: is Big Sleep a misogynistic novel?
  4. How is sexuality portrayed in the novel? Is female sexuality seen as empowering or as dangerous and corrupt? What can be said about Chandler's portrayal of homosexuality in The Big Sleep?
  5. To what extent is Big Sleep a critique of American society in the thirties?
  6. Why does Marlowe work as a private dick, rather than for the police department? What does this say about Chandler's opinion of the law?
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