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The Big Sleep

The Big Sleep

by Raymond Chandler

Sexuality and Sexual Identity Theme

Sexuality is a weapon in The Big Sleep. From Vivian's femme fatalish ways to Carmen's aggressive sexual advances, it's clear that women here are using their sexuality to achieve their goals—however sketchy they may be. It probably works on most men, but Marlowe manages to resist their advances, proving that his asexuality can be an asset, too.

Questions About Sexuality and Sexual Identity

  1. How is female sexuality portrayed in the novel? Is it seen as empowering, dangerous, or corrupt? 
  2. What is Marlowe's opinion of women? Why doesn't he want to get involved romantically with women, even when he finds himself attracted to one?
  3. How is homosexuality portrayed in The Big Sleep? What kinds of assumptions or associations does Marlowe make about homosexuality when he encounters Geiger and Carol?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

The female characters in The Big Sleep use their sexuality to exercise power in the novel, but Marlowe appears to be the only one who doesn't fall for their womanly wiles.

Chandler shows us that when women try to use their sexuality as a tool to control men, they're doomed to fail.

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