RARA-AVIS: The original question about female response

From: Jay Gertzman ( jgertzma@earthlink.net)
Date: 06 Aug 2003

I do not think I made the original question very clear. But it concerned the male protagonist's response to women in the 1930s and 40s crime novels. Their need for keeping their integrity and resolve to go down the "mean streets" with honor meant they did not want to have lasting female relationships or marriage. So does that mean they
"silenced" women or harbored a disrespect for them? The answer was hell no, and I agree. But I also agree with Mario when he says that women do not take men seriously at some level; some men anyway. I don't think Sam Spade's secretary Effie in _The Maltese Falcon_ takes Sam as seriously as she used to after she understands exactly what he means by saying near the end "Your Sam's a detective." I think Vivian Sternwood's sarcastic approach to Marlow (until the end) of _The Big Sleep_ is well founded. She thinks he is in love with his own toughness and the competence he has in using it. It's true and he should be, and so should his clients. Of course these women really like these guys a lot also. David Goodis' waif-like heroines take their men seriously and what happens--they wind up dead, because of the Goodis hero's response to his flaws, which are also what makes those books interesting. It's complicated. Nick Tosches' _Cut Numbers_ is about a very sharp tough gambler who had vicious fights with his girl friend, until the end, where he proves to her she can take him seriously. But he seems to lose something in himself and grow older and softer when this happens.

Jay A. Gertzman
718 Kennedy House, 1901 Kennedy Blvd.
Phila PA 19103
215 567 2289 or 201 869 4566
"Until I understand a man's 'ignorance,' I must
presume myself ignorant of his understanding."

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