About The Author Raymond Thornton Chandler was born in Chicago on July 23, 1888.His mother was Irish and his fatherwas from Pennsylvania and ofEnglish descent. He was a railroadengineer, an alcoholic and anunfaithful husband who abandonedhis family after he divorcedRaymonds mother in 1895.
Author BackgroundLater in life Chandler resentedhis father and took on many ofhis characteristics after hemarried a much older womannamed Cecilia Pascal.Chandler got involved and madegood money in the oil boom ofthe 1920’s in California. Hisexperience in the oil industry iswhat led him to criticize thecorruption of such industries inThe Big Sleep.
Reasons For WritingDuring Chandler’s time in the oilbusiness he fell into one of hisfather’s vices: drinking.He lost his job during the GreatDepression and started readingpulp novels, especially DashiellHammett.The Big Sleep was Chandler’sﬁrst novel in 1939.
The Great Depression Money is mentioned as an ideal throughout the novel. The biggest social aspect of the novel is The Great Depression. Chandler has characters that kill for money. Chandler uses the cynicism of the era to represent a world of money hungry people. Even the police are corruptible in Chandler’s novel. Everyone has a price.
Style and InfluenceChandler’s style of writing wasdifferent than previous styles ofnovels. Chandler not only brokeaway from the language ofprevious detective ﬁction, but wasalso unconventional in plotting,in his play with order, and in theaddition of more than oneplotline.Chandlers innovations led to theﬁlm style of the 1940s and 1950scalled ﬁlm noir.
ThemesThe Cynicism of 1930’s AmericaThe Corruption of American Society
Important Quotations “I was wearing my powder-blue suit...Iwas neat, clean, shaved and sober, and I didn’t care who knew it. I was everything the well-dressed private detective ought to be. I was calling on four million dollars.”
Important Quotations“Vivian is spoiled, exacting, smart and quite ruthless. Carmen is a child who likes to pull wings off flies. Neither of them has anymore moral sense than a cat. Neither have I. No Sternwood ever had.”
Important Quotations“She’s a grifter, shamus. I’m a grifter. We’re all grifters. So we sell each other out for a nickel.”
Important Quotations “You were dead, you were sleeping the big sleep, you were not bothered by things like that, oil and water were the same as wind and air to you. You just slept the big sleep,not caring about the nastiness of how you died or where you fell. Me, I was part of the nastiness now. Far more a part of it than Rusty Regan was.”