Essay #2: The Big Sleep

Length:            750 – 850 words

Value:              20%

Format:            Double-spaced, MLA documentation

Sources:           Chandler, The Big Sleep

Pick one of the following topics and write an essay on Raymond Chandler’s The Big Sleep. In your analysis, you must use at least one of the two critical articles mentioned below (and available on Omnivox). This means you should read and think about the article, and in your essay you should quote and discuss a significant idea or ideas from it, either as support for your argument or in contrast to it (you are free, of course, to disagree with a critic’s views). Be careful to credit the source through quotation and MLA page references for any words or ideas you use in your essay. Here are the essays: Raymond Chandler’s “The Simple Art of Murder” (particularly the later portions, in which he discusses Hammett and the figure of the detective-hero) and George Grella’s “The Hard-Boiled Detective Novel.”


  1. Discuss the motif of chivalrous romance in the novel. In what ways (e.g. through symbolism, plot, character, etc.) might Marlowe be considered a modern-day knight, and what value does the novel place on such a role?
  1. Discuss the novel’s representation of the ‘Others,’ including immigrants, women, and homosexuals. Pay particular attention to the words and expressions used to describe these groups of people and explain what view(s) the novel offers to the reader about them.
  1. Discuss the ethic of the private detective. What code of conduct or set of beliefs does Marlowe subscribe to, as apparent in his words and actions? What do his attempts to follow that ethic tell us about the possibilities for and limitations on right action in the modern world?

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