The Maltese Falcon | Study Guide

Dashiell Hammett

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The Maltese Falcon | Chapter 10 : The Belvedere Divan | Summary



Brigid and Spade have sex, and she spends the night. While she is asleep Spade takes her key and searches her apartment but doesn't find anything. He opens the window so that it looks like someone has broken in. On his way back he picks up food and makes breakfast for them on his return. Brigid goes home, and Spade goes to the Belvedere but is told Cairo isn't there. The boy who has been following him is in the hotel lobby. Spade sits down next to him and asks him where "he" is. The boy says, "Who?" Spade says, "The fairy." Spade adds, "You'll have to talk to me ... And you can tell G. I said so." They get into a scuffle, and Luke, the hotel detective and friend of Spade, tells the boy to leave. Spade then asks Luke about Cairo. Luke reveals Cairo didn't come back the night before.

Spade waits for Cairo to show up. When he does Spade explains to him he took Brigid's side the previous night because she knows where the falcon is. He asks, "How ... are we going to get it if I don't play along with her?" Cairo says he was investigated by the police and repeated Spade's story instead of the truth.

Spade returns to his office. Iva has called three times, and G. also called. Brigid is waiting for him. Brigid tells him someone broke into her place and she was too scared to remain there. Spade shows her the newspaper—three women in a building near hers had their apartments broken into, but nothing was taken. Spade explains he had entered that building to throw off the boy who was following him. The burglar must have been looking for her. Or perhaps it was Cairo who searched her place. Spade tells her he spoke with Cairo at his hotel. Brigid is alarmed and asks why he went to see him. He says, "My own true love, I've got to keep in ... touch with all the loose ends." Brigid is too afraid to return home, so Spade asks Effie if she can stay with her for a few days. Effie agrees and leaves. Spade says he will put Brigid in a separate taxi to make sure she's not being followed.


The hard-boiled detective and the femme fatale spend the night together, probably motivated by a mix of lust and mistrust. They both need to get information from the other. Both are also accustomed to using sex to get what they want. In a novel full of shady dealings and moral ambiguities, what their sexual encounter actually means to either Brigid or Spade on a deeper level, however, is difficult to ascertain.

This chapter further reveals Spade's talent for manipulation, half-truths, and outright lies. He doesn't trust Brigid so he searches her apartment without telling her, making it look like a burglary. He also suggests it might have been Cairo who did it, though he knows that is not true. Spade also downplays his alliance with Brigid when talking with Cairo, then does the reverse and takes Brigid's side when he is with her. It is one thing for characters like Brigid or Cairo, who are involved in shady dealings about the falcon, to be dishonest. For example, Cairo implies he spent the night being interrogated at the police station. Later this will prove untrue. As the novel continues Spade's moral ambiguity raises serious questions about whether his dishonesty is justified or not, and about his true motivations, especially when he sets up clients against each other for his own gain.

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