Study Guide

The Maltese Falcon Loyalty

By Dashiell Hammett

Loyalty

Loyalty gets a real bad rap in The Maltese Falcon. If you're too trusting, you're gonna regret it and likely end up getting betrayed. Loyalty is closely linked to the theme of lies and deception because if you don't trust anyone, how can you be loyal to them? The fact that loyalty can shift suddenly suggests that it is a commodity that can be bought and sold to the highest bidder, which of course connects the theme of loyalty to that of greed and wealth. Bottom line? Watch your back. It's a dangerous world out there.

Questions About Loyalty

  1. What has happened to loyalty and fidelity in this novel? Are any of the characters loyal or faithful to each other?
  2. Can Sam Spade be distinguished from the other characters by his loyalties? What are his motives?
  3. Does Spade have a personal code of values? If so, what is it based on? Does Spade do the right thing in the end by turning Brigid in, or does he betray her when he should have been on her side?

Chew on This

Spade claims to have a moral code of honor, but his loyalties can be bought and sold, at a price.

Brigid's loyalties shift at the drop of a dime, and the only person she's truly watching out for is herself.