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The Big Sleep | Study Guide

Raymond Chandler

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The Big Sleep | Chapter 25 | Summary



When Marlowe gets up the next morning, it is raining. The car that has been following him is parked down the block. After he drives to his office, he sees a small man driving that same car. Marlowe sneaks up on the man and opens a door to his car. When the man denies following him, Marlowe explains his plans—have breakfast, go to his office. The man eventually joins Marlowe in his office and introduces himself as Harry Jones.

Marlowe suggests he knows Joe Brody, surprising Jones who eventually offers to sell Marlowe information for two hundred dollars. Jones reveals he's involved with Agnes and says Eddie Mars had Rusty Regan killed. Marlowe dismisses him, but Jones stays put and sketches the backstory that gives motives for everything. Regan liked a woman who married Eddie Mars; Regan then married Vivian Sternwood on the rebound. They didn't get along, and Regan left with Mars's wife. Thinking he could make some money from the situation, Brody followed Lash Canino, a tough guy who works for Mars, to the Sternwoods, where he saw Vivian pass something to Canino.

Marlowe again dismisses the story as not worth the money but pays closer attention when Jones offers to tell where Mars's wife is—Agnes has seen her. He says she's alone, living within 40 miles, at a hideout. Marlowe agrees to pay for that information but says he'll have to get money from the bank. They make plans to meet with Agnes later in the day.


This plot takes a twist in this chapter, which lends a brief comic interlude. Marlowe's spotting and then tailing the car that has been tailing him, followed closely by Marlowe's explicit explanation of where he'll be and what he'll be doing, makes it easier for the man to continue following or join him. And it adds a certain cat-and-mouse element to the scene. When Harry Jones does join Marlowe, the situation shifts to a meeting of two men with a similar purpose: to solve the Rusty Regan question.

Marlowe's need to go to the bank to get two hundred dollars again underscores the class difference between Marlowe and his employers. Vivian Sternwood can risk $16,000 on a single bet, but Marlowe has to go to the bank just to get just two hundred dollars. It also illustrates Marlowe's level of commitment. He's willing to risk the equivalent of eight days' worth of income for information on a missing person he was not hired to find.

The scene between Marlow and Harry Jones also reveals more of Marlowe's softer side. Usually spitting out wisecracks and snide remarks, he takes back what he said about Agnes to Harry Jones—"She's too big for you ... She'll roll on you and smother you" when Harry tells him in something approaching dignity "that's kind of a dirty crack." Marlowe is genuinely sorry and gets down to business, which is what he's all about. He likes Harry, though, and finds him articulate and sharp, at least in comparison with Joe Brody.

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