The Big Sleep, Raymond Chandler is a picture of Los Angeles in 1930s. It demonstrates the corruption in Los Angeles through the characters like Eddie Mars, the club owner and racketeer, a the District Attorney who acts in favor of the rich Gneral Sternwood, the newspapers that keep stories out of print, corrupt cops who do what they are told. Chandler shows that the low was where one could buy it. The rich made rules and the gangsters kept officials in their pockets giving bribes. Law enforcements existed not to protect ordinary citizens but to profit from their power. In the beginning of the story the main character Marlowe is going to General Sternwood’s house dressed up “I was wearing my powder-blue suit… I was neat, clean and sober. I was well-dressed private detective ought to be. I was calling on four million dollars”(3). This opening paragraph points that in the story the money is important. Throughout the story Chandler uses different symbols such as knight, orchids, stained glass window, colors that disclose the characters. Among all the symbols used in the story the most important symbol is the knight because it reveals the character of Marlowe.
The first indication about Marlowe’s character as a knight is visible in the opening paragraphs when he well dressed goes to meet General Sternwood, the rich old and dying man, who is going to hire him to find the person who blackmails him. When Marlowe approaches to the entrance of the Sternwood mansion, he notices many elements of it including “a broad stained-glass panel showing a knight in dark armor rescuing lady who was tied to a tree”(Chandler 3). After seeing the stained glass panel, the first thing that comes in Marlowe’s mind, is that sooner or later he “has to climb there and help him. He did not seem to be really trying”(3) This is a signal of Marlowe’s character as a knight since only knight, would notice it and think about the help.
Another knighthood characteristic of Marlowe is honesty that is visible when General Sternwood is asking Marlowe to tell about himself. Marlowe tells general that he is thirty-three, speaks English when there is a demand for it. He also tells General that he used to work as investigator for Mr. Wild, the District Attorney, and was fired because of the insubordination on which Marlowe tests very high. Throughout the book Chandler implies the reader about the corruption the police system was in Los Angeles at that period. Marlowe is honest because he tells general that he was fired from his job and he does like to obey to police authorities. Only a knight who has code of honor would never work for a corrupted system.
Marlowe, besides being a good detective, is also a good employee who wants to protect his client’s reputation. A character named Geiger is a pornographer who runs a business under the name of having rare books. Marlowe follows Geiger and was watching his house, which was, as Marlowe describes, in “a nice neighborhood to have bad habits in” (33). Then he notices a white care that stops in front of the Geiger’s house and “a small woman in vagabond hat and a transparent raincoat” enters the Geiger’s house (32). After checking the car’s registration, Marlowe finds out that the car belongs to Carmen Sternwood, the younger daughter of General. While he was waiting there, he heard a scream which had a sound of shock more than a fear and then three shots. When Marlowe entered the house, there were two people and “neither of the two people paid attention to the way I came in, although only one of them was dead” (34). He sees Carmen sitting on the chair naked. He is under drugs and is not affected by what happened. Marlowe dresses Carmen and drives her home. Then Marlowe explains District Attorney what happened. He does not tell him the pieces relating Carmen. Here Marlowe is withholding some information from the law which is not something the knight would do. However, he does that because he wants to…