Re: RARA-AVIS: Marlowe as racist?

From: Jim Beaver (
Date: 04 Sep 2000

>Marlowe is not alone in his racist speeches. An elderly white woman has "a
>little colored boy that goes errands for me

Long before Marlowe, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) seemed to have no problem with the term "colored."

Yes, things have changed since those days. I think it's unrealistic to expect Chandler's novels or his characters to reflect the future, though.

Also, I hope you're not indicating that you missed Marlowe's ironic sarcasm in remarks like "it was only a shine killing, hardly a misdemeanor." I've read FML many times and never felt that Marlowe was a racist, but rather that Chandler surrounded Marlowe with racists in this story. That doesn't mean Marlowe was free of the kinds of easy stereotyping that we have today throttled and wrestled to the ground (so much so that I, a Cherokee by substantial descent, am often called on the carpet by whites for referring to myself as an Indian!). But in view of his time, I think Marlowe is what Chandler obviously intended him to be in this situation: the most decent man in the joint.

Jim Beaver

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