The Big Sleep, Raymond Chandler The importance of setting in 'The Big Sleep'

Essay by dat85University, Bachelor'sA, October 2004

download word file, 5 pages 3.0

Downloaded 56 times

Discuss the importance of the setting, or milieu, in The Big Sleep.

Throughout The Big Sleep, Chandler is not concerned solely with the solution of the murders, the 'whodunit' aspect; he also focuses a great deal on the world created by the story, and the actions of Marlowe in that world. Characters throughout the novel display or comment on the sordid nature of the city of Los Angeles and the modern life it encourages. The novel depicts a world in which nothing is as it seems, where a book store can be a front for a pornography ring, and everyone has their price. It is no coincidence that this world of facades and deception is set in Hollywood, where people make their fortune pretending to be something they are not. Chandler's description of the settings surrounding characters accentuates this dark view of the world.

The opening lines of the novel allow the reader to see the importance of appearances and money in L.A.

"I was neat, clean shaven, and sober, and I didn't care who knew it. I was everything the well dressed private detective ought to be" . These few sentences with their sardonic humour, typical of Marlowe throughout the novel, give the reader the impression that this is not the common appearance for Marlowe, or indeed anyone else in the novel. It is significant that Marlowe understands that he must look a certain way because he is "calling on four million dollars" (3), as it shows the significance of money in that society, and prepares the reader for the murders and crimes that will be based solely on money.

Chandler's description of the weather also adds to the strong sense of foreboding throughout the novel. The rain is constant throughout The Big Sleep, as if...