The Big Sleep, and the Dark Noir

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In the novel, The Big Sleep, the main character, Philip Marlowe, is a prime example of the hard-boiled detective, found in the noir genre. Merriam Websters' dictionary defines noir as, "crime fiction featuring hard-boiled cynical characters and bleak sleazy settings." (Noir) When Philip Marlowe is hired by old man General Sternwood, to track down a blackmailer, he is immediately thrust into the sleazy, filthy world of General Sterwoods' two daughters, Carmen and Vivian. Marlowe finds himself entangled in extortion, kidnapping, pornography, seduction, and murder to name a few ribald characteristics. The detective in this genre is usually characterized by several common traits. For example, in Film: A Critical Introduction, by Maria Pramaggiore and Tom Wallis, they state, "Like the Cowboy in the Western, the hard-boiled detective is a loner." (351) Marlowe is friends with neither the cops nor the criminals, and often, not even the people who hire him, like him. This doesn't bother the hard-boiled detective in the least. Pramaggiore and Wallis also state,"He is an investigator who stands just outside the law, yet remains the moral center of the film." (351) Philip Marlowe, has an encounter with Canino, in which Marlowe makes this statement, "I didn't want him with an empty gun." (Chandler 202) The apparent reason for this is that Marlowe knew that he was going to have to kill Canino, and he was making sure that even if he had to do it cold- bloodedly, he did not want to be incriminated. In the book, Critical Survey of Mystery and Detective Fiction, it states "Marlowe is the newest incarnation of the questing knight, challenged by the modern dragons of well-connected gangsters and entitled millionaires i... ... middle of paper ... ...ind and air to you. You just slept the big sleep, not caring about the nastiness of how you died or where you fell. Me, I was part of the nastiness now." The Big Sleep, characterizes the hard-boiled detective genre with it's darkness, futility, cruelty, hopelessness, and a main character who reflects all of this in detail. Works Cited Chandler, Raymond. The Big Sleep. New York: Vintage, 1992. Print. Pramaggiore, Maria, and Tom Wallis. Film: A Critical Introduction. Boston: Pearson/Allyn and Bacon, 2006. 351. Print Webster, Merriam. "Noir." Merriam-Webster. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 30 Mar. 2014. . Yarbrough, Scott D. "Hard-Boiled Detectives." Critical Survey Of Mystery & Detective Fiction, Revised Edition (2008): 1-9. Literary Reference Center. Web. 31 Mar. 2014.
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