Raymond Thornton Chandler was born on 23rd July 1888 in Chicago, Illinois. He spent his youth in Britain, but he became an American citizen in 1956 again. In 1924 Raymond married Pearl Cecily Hurlburt. His first book was published in 1933. He got an award of the Mystery writers of America in 1954.
Raymond Chandler died on 26th March in 1959.
is a private detective and the main character in the book. He is 33 years old, tall and quite good looking. In the film we see that he smokes a lot and he drinks very much alcohol, so Marlow makes a cool impression and also the way he reacts in a situation. When we observe the dialogs we see, that Marlow is very quick-witted; he always knows an answer and he often has the last word. He isn’t afraid of showing no respect to his opponents and gives others ( like Vivien ) often impudent answers. He doesn’t obey orders and for this reason he got fired when he was a policeman. Nevertheless he is a trustworthy and reliable loner who finishes everything he has started; for example when he wants to find Rusty Regan although nobody pays him or wants him to do this.
is a very rich war veteran and Marlow’s client. He is 70 years old and paralysed, so he has to sit in a wheelchair. He lives in a big villa with his two daughters, Carmen and Vivien, and his butler Norris. His wife is dead. I think he has a boring life, because he has nothing to do. Even the money is administered by his butler; when and how much his daughters get, for example. He enjoys sitting in his greenhouse, not because of the plants but because it is very warm there. He also likes to observe smoking and drinking persons. I think he is a poor and old but a good man.
is the younger daughter of the General. She is 18 years old and like a baby or femme fatales. She looks pretty and always tries to be sexy for men because they are very important in her life. She also killed Rusty Regan because he didn’t pay enough attention on her. “Carmen is a child who likes to pull wings off flies.” the General tells about Carmen. She often chews her nails and her behaviour is immature and at the intellectual level of the behaviour of a little child. She often does something without thinking of it’s consequences as we can see with the gambling cheques with the Sternwood get blackmailed.
Vivian Sternwood / Regan / Rutledge
is the older daughter of the General. She was married three times and has her own life. She is a loner and plays a double game: On the one hand she is the good looking daughter of the General and on the other had she is ambling, quick-witted, calculating and clever woman who likes to stop Marlow before he finds out that Carmen killed Rusty Regan.
is the butler of the Sternwoods. He is a discrete and loyal person who always stands by the family. He is also polite and is allowed to sign checks especially for the girls. He is a controlling figure and often decides for the General. Otherwise he runs the household and isn’t an important person in the book.
is the owner of a bookshop. This bookshop has two parts: in the front he sells old and antique book and in the back room he has illegal pornographic books. He is a homosexual and lives with Carol Lindgren in the same house. Geiger is one of the blackmailers of the Sternwoods and wants to have his money back which he lent Carmen for gambling, drugs and fun. He is the first corpse killed by Owen during a naked photo shooting with Carmen in his house.
is the second blackmailer of the Sternwoods. He killed Owen, took the film with the photographs of Carmen and threatens to publish them, He knows everything about Geiger’s bookshop and he takes the illegal books from the bookstore after Geiger’s death. Brody gets murdered by Carol Lindgren who wants revenge for Geiger’s death.
is Geiger’s secretary in his bookstore. She is a blond and though – sweet woman. She owns a pistol and also threatens Marlow with it to help her friend Brody. She also shows Brody the illegal pornographies in Geiger’s shop. But for money she helps Marlow and tells him where she saw Mona and Canino.
is the owner of an illegal casino where his good friend Vivian often gambles. He has a lot of friends in the corrupt police force. He pays a lot of money so that he can run his casino. Eddie Mars is a very rich, well – dressed man who has bodyguards. He has got a wife Mona Mars but they separated and in the book she seems to have run away with Rusty Regan. Eddie Mars is not disturbed by that.
has brown hair, brown eyes and always wear brown clothes and a brown hat. Everything is brown, also his car. He is short and heavy set. He takes care of things for Eddie Mars when he needs him (trouble-shooting). So he murders Harry Jones with poison.
is the person who gives Marlow the General’s case. He is an inspector and friend of Marlow. (p. 70 / 15): “He was a medium-sized blondish man with stiff white eyebrows, calm yes and well-kept teeth. He looked like anybody you would pass on the street. I happened to know he had killed nine men – three of them when he was covered, or somebody thought he was. .. . “
is the District Attorney. He comes from a Los Angeles family and knows the important families in Los Angeles ( Sternwoods, Mars, ect. ) and bends the law to help them.
works with Agnes. Once he follows Marlow and wants to give Marlow information where Agnes is. When Marlow comes to Harry’s office Marlow watches as Canino kills him with poison.
is the wife of Eddie Mars. She ran away with Rusty Regan, Vivian’s husband. She helps Marlow to escape when he is in her apartment. She still loves Eddie, she thinks he is not so bad and helps him and does everything he wants.
The Big Sleep is set in the 30’s. The time of Prohibition between the World Wars ( ~ 1920 – 33 ) was over. In the Prohibition wasn’t allowed to produce, sell and drink alcohol. Also gambling and pornographic weren’t allowed. Mafia and police became rich because nobody wanted to do without these. After this time was the time of depression in the world economy crises. The people have only little money because a lot of them have no a job.
In Austria there is a difficult economic situation at the moment because the rate of unemployment is quite high. For joining the European Union Austria had to meet the EU criteria for Stat deficits. So the government had to make savings which influenced the economy negatively. Thus there is a large number of unemployed people who are dissatisfied and frustrated.
p. 141 / 13 : His cigarette was jiggling like a doll on a coiled spring.
p. 219 / 27 : Her eyelids were flicking rapidly, like moth wings.
p. 227 / 20 : Dark silent mystified eyes stared at me solemnly, the doubt growing larger in them, creeping into them noiselessly , like a cat in long grass stalking a young blackbird.
p. 228 / 15 : Carmen is angry as an animal
p. 277 / 21 : Her breath was as delicate as the eyes of a fawn.
p. 227 / 25 : Blood began to move around in me, like a prospective tenant looking over a house.