The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler Analysis

Topics: Raymond Chandler, Philip Marlowe, Crime fiction Pages: 5 (1325 words) Published: December 5, 2012
Second “Arbeidskrav”
Eng-2118, British and American Crime Novel
Anastasia Puzyreva
Question № 2.
One of the distinguishing marks of all crime fiction is its emphasis on a sense of “atmosphere”, “decorum”, and “verisimilitude”. Using a specific example from one of the texts on our reading list agree or disagree with this statement.

1. Introduction

«One of the distinguishing marks of all crime fiction is its emphasis on a sense of “atmosphere”, “decorum”, and “verisimilitude”. »

The aim of this work is to identify whether the sentence above is true or not. It would be pretty hard to agree or disagree with this phrase without referring to any book, written in this genre. However, not every crime novel can be chosen for this purpose. For example, nowadays not every detective story, written among popular press can be worth paying attention at. Thus, it would be more secure to refer to more proper crime fiction book.

The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler is a hardboiled crime novel, which is included in "TIME's List of the 100 Best Novels."[1] Moreover, it has an honorable place in several other lists of top 100 books. Such figures speak for themselves. Therefore, The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler will be used in this work as an example of crime fiction novels.

In the main body of the work attention will be paid to “atmosphere”, “decorum”, and “verisimilitude”. Each of these terms will be defined and studied. In case if those distinguishing marks are in The Big Sleep, examples will be given. In the conclusion of work everything will be summed up and the agreement (or disagreement) with the statement will be given along with the feedback.

2. Main body

1. Sense of “atmosphere”

The sense of atmosphere has a great role almost in every book. It helps reader to make own expectations of the plot. For example, the description of General Sternwood’s Mansion in The Big Sleep makes the reader think that there must be some mysteries behind those walls.

Detailed exposition of the whole Mansion from the inside is important for the setting of the novel. For example, the portrait with “hot black eyes” predicts the dangerous atmosphere of the book. One more essential element of the scenery is the stained glass panel, where the noble knight is attempting to save the damsel. Philip Marlowe feels like climbing up and helping him, what symbolizes that he is a knight himself – in his mind and actions.

Weather has a big deal in creating atmosphere of the crime fiction novels too. It helps to reflect the mood of the characters or to predict the oncoming events. In the beginning of The Big Sleep Marlowe thinks that Vivian is “trouble” and the approaching rain reflects his thoughts.

2. Sense of “decorum”

According to Oxford English Dictionary, “decorum” stands for something “That “is proper to a personage, place, time, or subject in question, or to the nature, unity, or harmony of the composition; fitness, congruity, keeping.” [2] Decorum is pretty necessary in crime fiction novels. If author does not keep up with the proper images of world or characters, it would become pretty hard for the readers to orient oneself in the novel.

Even though characters in The Big Sleep are complicated, everybody is behaving in a proper manner to their personality. For example, while the whole world is corrupted and «rots», Marlowe still keeps up to his “hero” principles. He behaves in a way how the detective is supposed to be. Marlowe is willing to seek truth; he is honest and seems to be the only character, which is not rotting, as the others around him.

However, it makes the characters to become predictable to some degree. For example, the reader can guess that Marlowe will not take advantage of naked Carmen, lying in his bed. And he fulfills those expectations by throwing Carmen out. Obviously, Carmen’s behavior seems to be proper for her. That’s why she does not get ashamed of her actions – she gets...
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