LastName 1Student LastNameENG 102Prof. BoltonDue Date Comment [A1]: The heading includes all the required information for MLA format (student’s name, Philip Marlowe: A Knight in the City class information, professor’s name, and due date of essay). Notice also Set in Los Angeles in the 1930s, Raymond Chandler’s The Big Sleep chronicles the life that the page numbers are the same font as the rest of the essay. Theof Philip Marlowe, a private detective, as he tries to solve the mystery he has stumbled into. entire document is double-spaced, with no extra spacing betweenMarlowe is hired by General Sternwood to locate and handle the man who is blackmailing the paragraphs, and the title is centered with proper capitalization.Sternwood family; however, the mystery turns out to be more complicated, with multiple crimes Comment [BA2]: The title is original and interesting!(and criminals). The Sternwood daughters, Carmen and Vivian, both lead lives unknown to their Comment [A3]: Notice that the first few sentences here offer a brieffather, lives that involve shady characters and confusing situations. Marlowe tracks down the plot summary with a mention of the time period (the 1930s). More plotblackmailer, Geiger, but learns information that leads him to additional crimes and criminals. points will come later, but this gives the reader an idea of some relevantAccording to Edward Margolies, “While trying to [expose an unknown blackmailer], Marlowe events that will be discussed. Comment [A4]: The quote isdiscovers venality, guilt, and shame wherever he turns” (42). Los Angeles, home to the properly introduced (highlighted in blue here), correctly cited—placed incharacters in the novel, is a busy city whose residents have, unfortunately, turned to crime to quotation marks, with the page number in parentheses at the end—survive. Though the novel appears to be a typical detective story, Chandler has purposely set and effectively discussed (highlighted in yellow). Notice how the discussionThe Big Sleep in the time period immediately after the Great Depression in order to accurately of the quote summarizes what was cited and indicates why it is relevant.portray the increasing corruption during that time. According to “Organized Crime,” when Comment [A5]: This clearly states the connection from the time period toMussolini cracked down on the mafia in Italy, many mafia members were forced to flee the the literature. Comment [A6]: Since this is acountry, and a good number ended up in the United States (331). Furthermore, in the early paraphrase, no quotation marks are needed, but a parenthetical citation is1930s, the homicide rate “reached a high point for the entire century” (Phillips-Fein 217). Most still required. Here, the author’s name is included because the informationbelieve the increased crime rate was a consequence of prohibition (Phillips-Fein 217). In the wasn’t introduced with the author. Comment [A7]: In addition to theUnited States, crime was rampant during the 1930s, and Chandler’s novel reveals that nobody plot summary, necessary historical information is also included in the introduction.
LastName 2was exempt from corruption at the time. In Raymond Chandler’s The Big Sleep, the knight, theorchids, and the weather all symbolize the corruption that prevailed in the United States duringthe 1930s. Comment [A8]: This thesis statement is effective because it Throughout the novel, knights are a subtle part of Marlowe’s thoughts and interactions Restates the author and title of the workand are used to symbolize his “goodness” in a world full of corruption. In the beginning of the Offers three reasons (the symbols—note that you are notbook, when he arrives at the Sternwood house to meet his future employer, he notices a stained- required to include literary elements in your reading; sometimes youglass panel featuring “a knight in dark armor rescuing a lady who was tied to a tree and didn’t’ might just want to discuss a character or a work’s theme in general)have any clothes on but some very long and convenient hair. The knight had pushed the visor of Emphasizes what is revealed about the time period (thehis helmet back to be sociable, and he was fiddling with the knots on the ropes that tied the lady corruption/crime that prevailed)to the tree and not getting anywhere” (3). Marlowe decides that if he lived there, he would Comment [A9]: This is an effective topic sentence because it restates the symbol of the knighteventually have to “climb up there and help him. He didn’t really seem to be trying” (4). (which was listed first in the thesis) and it also states what the knightImmediately, Marlowe sets himself apart from the rest of society as he suggests he would help symbolizesrescue the lady when nobody else—not even the knight—would. Marlowe, as we later learn, is Comment [A10]: Here, the symbolism is explained in more detailarguable the only honorable character in the novel, a “knight errant in a nonchivalric world” using the lines that were just cited.(Margolies 42). The stained-glass panel represents this characterization and foreshadows the Comment [A11]: Here is a quote that is not about the historical timeinstance later in the novel when Marlowe, our knight, must “rescue” a naked Carmen Sternwood period, but about the character; the writer makes the connection to thefrom Geiger’s house. As corruption persists around him, Marlowe’s chivalry is surprising, time period.which demonstrates how persistent the crime was during the time—in a setting with multiplecharacters, we can only see one, Marlowe, who is uninvolved in crime. The knight image arises again later, when Marlowe returns home to find Carmenundressed in his bed. As he enters his bedroom, he absentmindedly moves a piece on hischessboard: the knight. He has a conversation with Carmen in which she repeatedly calls him“cute” and insists that he join her in bed (155). After he turns her down (like the knight he is), he
LastName 3looks again at his chessboard and realizes, “The move with the knight was wrong… Knights hadno meaning in this game. It wasn’t a game for knights” (156). To Marlowe, the chessboard is Comment [BA12]: Whenever you cite from a short story or book, a pagethe world, and he is the knight; just as chess is not a game for a night, the world is not a place for number is used. The same will be true when you cite a play for your essayhim. Around him, corruption prevails, as it did in reality during the time. For example, the because you are citing it from an anthology. (If you had the play bykidnapping of the Lindbergh baby in 1932 was “one of the most famous cases of the twentieth itself—and not within a collection of other works—you would cite differently.) Since you are using ancentury” (“Lindbergh” 261). Additional notorious criminals of the time included Bonnie and anthology, you use the page number as well, just like this essay does.Clyde, who performed a string of bank robberies, and Al Capone, who was responsible foroperating gangs and gang murders (Phillips-Fein 218-219). In the novel, as Marlowe is the only Comment [A13]: Here is historical information to support the author’sone who makes respectable moral and ethical decisions, the rest of society appears even more claim and demonstrate how corruption prevailed.fraudulent. According to John Irwin, “Marlowe’s sense of honor in professional dealings is verymuch a matter of pride with him” (226). When contrasted against the upstanding citizenMarlowe, it becomes clear that the residents in the country have stepped far beyond the normal Comment [A14]: Another quote about Marlowe is included, and theamount of dishonesty. explanation connects it to the time period; the historical information Immediately after the first image of the knight, we are introduced to another symbol that before this explained how criminals were prominent, and this shows howprevails throughout the novel and also serves to portray the abundant corruption in society: we see it in the novelorchids. Marlowe’s initial meeting with General Sternwood takes places in a greenhouse filledwith orchids, plants that appear beautiful but release a strange odor. Upon entering thegreenhouse, Marlowe describes the atmosphere: The air was thick, wet, steam, and larded with the cloying smell of tropical orchids in Comment [A15]: An ellipsis is bloom. The glass walls and roof were heavily misted and big drops of moisture splashed included because the author left out a sentence (from the quoted part) that down on the plants… The plants filled the place, a forest of them, with nasty meat leaves was irrelevant to the essay Comment [A16]: Note the block like the newly washed fingers of dead men. They smelled as overpowering as boiling quote format. There are no quotation marks, and the period goes before the alcohol under a blanket. (Chandler 7) parentheses. Also, when the quote is discussed, a new paragraph isn’t started.
LastName 4The seemingly harmless, but truly rotten, orchids represent society: no matter how innocent aperson appears, there is often malice lying underneath the surface. General Sternwood reaffirmsthis idea when he says, “[Orchids] are nasty things. Their flesh is too much like the flesh of men. Comment [A17]: The original word in the quote was “They,” whichAnd their perfume has the rotten sweetness of a prostitute” (9). Sternwood concurs with didn’t make sense in the context, so the author changed it to orchids andMarlowe as he uses the oxymoronic term “rotten sweetness” to describe the deceptive plants. As put it in square brackets to indicate something had been changed.“rotten” as the characters are in The Big Sleep, most of them still appear “sweet.” This isparticularly applicable to the Sternwood sisters. They present themselves as elegant,sophisticated, and harmless, but are truly deceptive, manipulative, and even responsible for themurder and disappearance of Rusty Regan. Again, the corruption in society is revealed, as thecitizens are like orchids: seemingly innocent, but always up to something immoral. Comment [A18]: Note that this paragraph (and a couple of others) do Furthermore, when describing the orchids, Marlowe’s description of the smell, “as not include a specific example from history; however, each symbol isoverpowering as boiling alcohol under a blanket” (7), reflects the ban on alcohol, Prohibition, eventually connected to historical information. This is perfectlythat is considered largely responsible for the rampant crime during the time period. According to acceptable as long as you make the connection clear throughout.Kim Phillips-Fein, “In 1925, prohibition agents shut down 172,000 illegal alcohol shops” (218).The crackdown on alcohol prompted distillers to find more ways to hide their liquor sales, andMarlowe’s comparison of the orchid smells to the smell of boiling alcohol reminds readers thatProhibition was the primary reason for the increase in crime (Phillips-Fein 217), especially sinceMarlowe mentions it being under a blanket, or hidden from prohibition agents. The fact thatMarlowe knows that “secret” smells indicates how close he has been to the corruption and againsets him apart from the rest of the corrupt society. Finally, the weather throughout the novel represents the corruption, as the city of Los Comment [A19]: The transition word helps with the flow of the essay.Angeles is caught in a constant spell of rain. Rain is gloomy and shady, as are the characters inthe novel. The weather plays heavily into Marlowe’s life, as it often changes depending on the
LastName 5events he has just experienced or witnessed. The novel begins immediately with a description ofthe weather, as Marlowe tells us, “It was about eleven o’clock in the morning, mid October, withthe sun not shining and a look of hard wet rain in the clearness of the foothills” (Chandler 3).Chandler continues to use the rain as the primary description of setting, which automatically setsa gloomy tone for the novel. In chapter six, as the rain “filled the gutters and splashed knee-highoff the sidewalk,” Marlowe notes that “It was too early in the fall for that kind of rain” (30). Aseveryone is caught up in corruption of some kind, they are also caught in a spell of rain, which isabnormal for that time of year. This emphasizes that the crime rate is not something the citizensare used to but are having to adapt to in the changing times; life hasn’t always been corrupt but isduring the 1930s, when the novel takes place. The weather fluctuates throughout the novel, but always returns to rain after Marlowe hasan unsettling or negative experience. For example, the day Marlowe returns home to findCarmen in his bed starts out as a typical day. The city is foggy, but the rain has ceased, andMarlowe has made progress in solving the mystery. After his unsettling encounter with Carmenthat night, however, the weather suddenly changes. Marlowe tears “the bed to pieces” (159) andgoes to sleep angry with Carmen for insulting him. The next morning, “It was raining again… aslanting gray rain like a swung curtain of crystal beads” (159). Once something unusual happensto Marlowe, the weather shifts to accommodate his feelings and, ultimately, the feelings of thereaders. Marlowe remains a “knight” throughout the novel, but his attention to the weatherdemonstrates how he too is affected by the corruption. During the time period, despite citizens’disgust at the rampant crime, they couldn’t help but be intrigued at the same time. For example,Bonnie and Clyde were finally ambushed and killed in 1934, and according to Kim Phillips-Fein,“After [Bonnie and Clyde’s] deaths, crowds gathered around the ambush site to seek bits of the
LastName 6bullets that had killed them, and their funerals were mass public events” (220). Although societydidn’t necessarily agree with Bonnie and Clyde’s crimes, there was still a level of respect forthem, and we see Marlowe’s fascination with the corruption surrounding him. Although hedoesn’t take part, he still finds himself intrigued by the ongoing crimes. For example, later in the novel, Harry Jones gives his life in order to protect Agnes, hispartner in crime. At the beginning of the chapter, Marlowe informs us that “the rain hadstopped” as he enters the Fulwider Building searching for Canino. Marlowe finds Canino withHarry Jones, who had previously been tailing Marlowe, so Marlowe eavesdrops from the nextroom to try and understand the connection between the two. Canino kills Jones after Jones giveshim the wrong address for Agnes. When Marlowe leaves the building, Marlowe says, “It wasraining hard again. I walked into it with the heavy drops slapping my face” (180). The weatherchanges with Marlowe’s emotions and experiences, so Marlowe is presumably upset by Jones’sdeath. This is significant because Jones is not an honorable man like Marlowe. The reasonMarlowe comes to see Jones in the first place is because Jones wants to sell Marloweinformation or “secrets.” Jones practically bribes and blackmails for a living, yet Marlowe isemotional when Jones dies. To Marlowe, Jones dies an honorable death; even though Jones wasscheming for money, he still protected his partner to the end. Marlowe’s conflictiondemonstrates the challenge with the corruption around him: he doesn’t know where to draw theline, as others didn’t either. The fact that the country was so caught up with Bonnie and Clydewas likely because of their “romantic” story. Perhaps citizens could relate to Bonnie and Clyde,who were small-time criminals until they met each other and started striving for bigger paydays(Phillips-Fein 220). In the end, they died together, and we see a similar event in Harry Jones andAgnes. Jones is willing to die to protect her, and to Marlowe, this is the right thing to do, so
LastName 7despite the fact that Jones is a criminal, Marlowe can respect his character, just as the countryadmired Bonnie and Clyde. Marlowe’s attention to the rain shows his disdain at Jones’s death,and he demonstrates that during the time period, the line of morals and ethics was blurred for notonly the criminals, but the general public as well. Comment [A20]: This paragraph and the previous one each use Bonnie The symbols of the knight, the orchids, and the weather blend together to effectively and Clyde’s story because the author says it parallels Harry Jones andportray The Big Sleep’s underlying theme of corruption in American society. In the novel, Agnes’s story. The discussion here is good but might be more effective iforruption prevails, from a pornography dealer to easily bribed policemen. Despite the the Jones/Agnes plot was explained in more detail.temptations, Marlowe remains true to his morals, becoming a modern-day “knight.” However, Comment [A21]: The thesis is restated but not repeated.even he finds himself questioning what makes a person “good” as he respects some criminalsdespite their activities. The Big Sleep is more than just a detective novel; it is a historicaldepiction of life during the 1930s. Comment [A22]: The final sentence reemphasizes the connection between the novel and the time period.
LastName 8 Works Cited Comment [BA23]: Your Works Cited page should list the play you areChandler, Raymond. The Big Sleep. New York: Vintage Books, 1939. Print. analyzing (see #10 on pg. 145 in your textbook) from the anthology as wellIrwin, John T. “Being Boss: Raymond Chandler’s The Big Sleep.” Southern Review 37.2 as your secondary sources. (Spring 2001): 211-248. Print. Chapter 7 in your textbook lists almost everything you should run into, or you can look at the entries here as“Lindbergh Baby Kidnapping Poster, 1932.” Crime and Punishment: Essential Primary examples. If you have any questions, check with the library or ask me. Sources. Eds. K. Lee Lerner, and Brenda Wilmoth Lerner. Detroit: Gale, 2006. 260- Note that your Works Cited page 263. Gale U.S. History in Context. Web. 19 Feb. 2012. should be alphabetized as it is here.Margolies, Edward. Which Way Did He Go? New York: Holmes and Meier Publishers, 1982. Print.“Organized Crime.” West’s Encyclopedia of American Law. 2nd ed. Vol. 7. Eds. Shirelle Phelps, and Jeffrey Lehmen. Detroit: Gale, 2005. 331-333. Gale U.S. History in Context. Web. 19 Feb. 2012.Phillips-Fein, Kim. “Crime.” Encyclopedia of the Great Depression. Vol. 1. Ed. Robert S. McElvaine. New York: Macmillian Reference USA, 2004. 217-220. Gale U.S. History in Context. Web. 19 Feb. 2012.