The Big Sleep | Study Guide

Raymond Chandler

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The Big Sleep | Chapter 28 | Summary



When Marlowe wakes up, it is still raining. He is handcuffed and tied. The men have left for a while, but there is a woman in front of him. She says they searched him and know he's a detective. He was unconscious for a while and is in the house near Huck's garage. Marlowe eventually calls her Mars's wife, which doesn't please her. Still she gives him a drink when he asks and questions why he's there. They squabble a bit over Mars's ethics, with her defending him and Marlowe slamming him. She insists she is not a prisoner there and Eddie Mars is not a murderer, just a "racketeer."

When Marlowe runs out of things to say, he comments on her platinum blond hair, which she takes off and shows him it is a wig. She cut her hair to show Eddie how far she is willing to go not to be recognized so he doesn't have to guard her. She cuts all the ropes tying Marlowe in place. He suggests she leave with him, but she stays. As she lights a cigarette and puts it in his mouth, Marlowe tells her how Harry Jones led him to her, and they squabble again. She tells Marlowe she loves Mars. Mars did not kill Rusty Regan, who is probably still alive and will be found when he wants to be. Canino won't hurt her because she's his boss's wife. Marlowe tells her Canino could and would kill Mars any time. For her safety Marlowe presses her to come with him, but she refuses and kisses him good-bye. Marlowe goes out into the rainy night to walk to Realito.


This chapter opens and closes with rain. Since it was raining when Marlowe went off the road, and it is still dark and raining when he leaves, readers can infer not much time has passed. The rain also suggests obscurity, when movement is unpleasant and sometimes difficult. Finally when Marlowe kisses "Silver Wig," he uses the rain as a comparative marker: the rain is cold, but "not as cold as her lips."

Despite being cuffed and "trussed like a turkey ready for the oven" and beaten unconscious, Marlowe continues his standard practice of talking back to those in authority. In this case it's the woman in front of him: Mona Mars. This provides yet another example of Chandler's skill in furthering the plot and answering questions. Having Marlowe recognize "Silver Wig" as Mars's wife makes her angry, increasing the dramatic tension in the scene. It resolves one question—he has found Mona Mars where Agnes said she would be—while generating others. Why is she hiding there? Why did she cut her hair? It also informs the reader who she is, without Chandler having to step back into exposition. Having Marlowe do all this while recovering from a beating shows he is tough, without Chandler's ever having to mention it.

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