Raymond Chandler wrote his well-documented novel The Big Sleep during the Great Depression, before the beginning of the Second World War. The Big Sleep novel is a detective narrative with several plotlines. The main character Phillip Marlowe is a private eye, who undertakes a blackmail project and follows trace people with the spoilt rich, nightclub rouges, pornographers, and murderers. Firstly, it is set almost exclusively in a city-like environment. Secondly, it deals with vice and corruption as dominant storylines. Additionally, women in the novel are in essence treacherous and problematic. In 1930s America, this was the period referred to as the Great Depression when America was cynical and disillusioned about its projections for the future. In his hard-boiled novel The Big Sleep, Raymond Chandler provokes selfishness through lust for money, imageries of the environment, and symbol of the anti-hero to describe life of Americans in 1930s.
Throughout the novel, Chandler mentions money as a notion, an achievement for seedier crime ring, which subsists in the novel. In the beginning of this novel, Marlowe dressed up ever since he is about to enter into the house, which is valued at millions of dollars. Therefore, eccentricity has split the society apart as each person strives for personal prosperity as a result of new social change, that is the money driven economy. As Marlowe said, “I was neat, clean, shaved and sober, and I didn't care who knew it” (Chandler 3). This indicates that money is important to an extent that one has to be smart when money is mentioned. In short, money is something coveted, respected, and enjoyed “I was everything the well-dressed private detective ought to be. I was calling on four million dollars” (Chandler 3). Therefore, he had to enjoy money as this is why he needed it. This clearly illustrates that economic condition of America in 1930s was in great turmoil. Again, several characters get themselves in wearisome situations, which involve scheming to attain personal gain or avenge. For instance, Harry Jones and Agnes Lozelle through mirroring the nervousness that Americans found themselves in all through the period concerning Chandler's rating (David 81).
The advent of the Great American Depression, is evident in Chandler’s novel in a broad way. In fact, American society was undergoing a revolution that forged a new economy that was money-driven. Consequently, various economic activities that came about were subjective and altered social setting of communism, which was replaced by capitalism, which is perceived to promote a decentralized social set up. Firstly, The Big Sleep is clear on motivated efforts that make the characters seek material gain in pursuit of personal prosperity that was not common in previous years. In fact, the depression almost lead to some fractions of society losing hope in building a prosperous economic foundation for their future. The focus on the riches and material wealth is contrasted with the awful poverty which struck the society. Money driven economy has an extreme twist of events where average colleagues get involved in crime, such as Carmen Sternwood, who endeavors to kill Marlowe for material gain (Reck 56). The much fought for property, such as oilfields made certain people, for instance General Sternwood, a lot of money in fact his fortune was worth millions. It is paramount to identify that the luxury of the households and personal devices was exceptionally emphasized to an appreciable extent. Nonetheless, most of the wealth acquired came from illegitimate sources, for instance, it is explicit that Sternwood conducted a business that was not ever clouded by compromises. Thus, selfishness has spread extensively in the new social setting that prioritizes material gain above everything else.
In fact, on the same, the image of the anti-hero is present all through The Big Sleep since it is an object representing the detective Marlowe, which continuously appears on the scene. The book commences with a figure of the knight in the appearance of the tainted glass. Chandler tries to present Marlowe as some kind of a knight, who does not take advantage of Carmen Sternwood. In addition, he is persistent to pursue truth even when he is receiving no extra commission, but he is still in the pursuit aimed at the case of Rusty Regan. In the end, the knight resolves the dilemma, although not in a totally honest way (Porter 34). The antagonist Eddie Mars exits free without any punishment and also the truth is not revealed to everyone. Though Marlowe is aware of the reality, he does not tell it to his clients. It is possible to ask a fair question how noble Marlowe's conduct is, and whether Marlowe remains the image of a knight all through the novel, given that he consistently states that this world is not a place where knights can exist. Thus, his character is wavering since he condoned crime in instances that he was involved or favored him (Porter 28).
Apparently, Marlowe seems to accomplish his duties since he conceals truth from his customer for the only reason of not wishing to hurt him. This ending becomes really ironic, because the truth is an ultimate thing that Marlowe wishes to attain as it is what would set him free. The answer to each of questions rests on the fact that Marlowe is a prevailing day night, possibly a knight, who should bend his scruples in the world of truth in Los Angeles of 1930s preferably than the world of the tainted glass, "Knights had no meaning in this game. It wasn't a game for knights."(Chandler 156). An additional important knighthood performs the instance when Carmen wants to be saved when she comes to Marlowe's bed naked. However, Marlowe insistently expresses his image of a knight and does not take advantage of Carmen. He does not sleep with Carmen. Instead, he drives her home, upholds his chivalry, and remains chaste to defend his individualism.
All through the book, the weather is a constant element of the imageries of the environment and settings. From the beginning, the resonance of thunder trundles out from the hills. Importantly, thunder appears to originate from the place where Regan lies dead. Certainly, the weather typifies seemingly each chapter and all actions. In the beginning of the book, Marlowe collects his payment from his customer General Sternwood who is in a fiery greenhouse, which is a jungle-like, humid greenhouse full of orchids with their soggy pervasive odor. The greenhouse symbolizes the entire book: it is a modest form of the deluge- trotted Los Angeles with its numerous thieves satiating around the Marlowe and General like the creepers in a wilderness. This is an illustration that the social change into a money driven economy leaves some groups of the population extremely poor hence emergence of criminals (Robert 45).
There is another element mentioned in this scene: the orchid trees. The orchid trees in the orangery flourish in the extreme heat, which makes readers feel intimidated. Although they appear lovely, the texture of their petals is like human skin and they release an odd odor. This alarming image opens up the book and endures in readers’ minds throughout the book, and takes them across the wilderness of Los Angeles as well as implying its double-faced criminals. In addition, the carnal appeal of the city with its casinos, its luxury, and its alcohol crumbles into shabbiness. The orchids’ petals makes people feel something nasty. In contrast, the tarnished glass tries to position Marlowe as a positive image of a knight through emphasizing his attitude and behavior towards these people in the new social setting.
Raymond Chandler’s The Big Sleep is a typical example of detective narrative genre, which has prevailed in literature for decades. Generic conventions in this work are well integrated to make detective novel a success. It can clearly be seen that he has successfully employed imagery and symbols to bring out themes and motifs. Symbols used were weather, the greenhouse, orchids, and the stained glass. The author uses the theme of lust for money to reveal the way American society appeared in 1930s. Chandlers skillfully uses each of these symbols to explicitly give meaning to the moments and venues in which events take place through the humid atmosphere of the greenhouse. The odd odor of orchids gives a clearer picture of the same. In general, symbols create clear pictures of the whole literary work and make it easy to be perceived by readers.
Joseph, C.Porter. The End of the Trial: The America West of Dashiell Hamment and Raymond Chandler.
Joseph Porter is a talented writer whose is an appreciable in put into american literature of the westernization which brought about social change. His work is detailed on the manipulation and margimalization of the minority in the society in the advent of the modern western social development. In fact, he depicts the prominent violence perpetrated by gunmen, Indians as well as cowboys in the popular culture which are a real themes in this scenario. Thus, the society revolved around industrial and financial matters that Porter incoropoartes in his work. Similar to Raymond Chandler’s work, the prominence of the western culture is likened to a western hero, through whom the western culture is exemplified. In fact, the stylistic and thematic approach of the text to western development resembles Raymond Chandler’s literary conventions to a significant degree.