Study Guide

The Big Sleep Chapter 1

By Raymond Chandler

Chapter 1

  • It's eleven o'clock on a cloudy October morning. Weather forecast: rain, plenty of it. Detective Philip Marlowe enters the Sternwood mansion in Los Angeles, dressed in his best suit. He's calling on one of the wealthiest men in the city, after all.
  • Marlowe looks around at the ritzy interior of the mansion when his eyes fall on a stained glass window of a knight rescuing a naked woman tied to a tree. Think King Arthur in Camelot
  • Enter Carmen Sternwood, the beautiful blonde bombshell (try saying that three times fast!). She has a weird habit of biting her thumb and giggling constantly. 
  • She's a big flirt and shamelessly throws herself into Marlowe's arms. Marlowe seems to be completely unaffected by Carmen's bold advances. 
  • Norris the butler walks in on Marlowe holding Carmen, and announces that General Sternwood is ready to see Marlowe.