An Example of American Literature. Short essay on 20th century American Literature using Raymond Chandler's "The Big Sleep" as an example

Essay by lavak3High School, 10th gradeA+, June 2006

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20th century literature, particularly literature which the setting is based on the days of World War I, the gangster era, and prohibition are prime examples of the classic authors of America. These books show corruption and hate, and portray crime that is considered horrific in our generation, as everyday happenings of the time periods based on the settings in these books. A quintessential example of these types of books is Raymond Chandler's The Big Sleep, shows both corruption and hate, but with a twist of chivalrous acts that make the book ever more interesting.

Primarily, this book can be unorthodoxly as a "small light in a dark hallway," story type. Meaning, this book takes place in a setting of dark times of the gangster era and corruption even along the high representatives of the government. In these dark times, there exists a private sleuth named Philip Marlowe, who unlike being successful in the path of crime like his peers, decides to take the path of an honest detective working for just 25 dollars a day.

He has experienced the evils of material possession, and has decided not to be lead into the wrong path. Symbolically, he is an honest and chivalrous knight in a time of turmoil. This book expands on this symbol by many objects in the various places Marlowe visits. At one stage, he sees a knight stained in glass, trying to save a woman. Philip, seeing this stained glass, thinks "I would sooner or later have to climb up there and help him. He didn't seem to be really trying," (Page 4). This displays his chivalrous thinking and foreshadows what kind of decisions he would take as the story moves on.

Also, the good chivalrous acts by the middle-aged detective are masked by the dark hallway.