RARA-AVIS: amorality in Chandler, Cain

From: Jay Gertzman ( jgertzma@earthlink.net)
Date: 30 Aug 2003

Could Chandler's Marlowe be, in certain instances, amoral? Knowing "how cities are run," he compromises with various crime bosses. Surely, as a loyalist to and savior of many of his clients, he is distinctly moral. But when he goes to talk to Eddie Mars at the end of _The Big Sleep_, he is willing to deal with the king of the rackets to keep that super-predator from the Sternwood fortune, and to keep quiet what he knows about Carman. And in _Farewell My Lovely_, it seems to me that Chandler presents Brunette as an amoral city boss, who would not kill anyone if he does not have to, wants power and peace not disturbance, and is in the forefront of the merging of under- and upper-world which characterized 20th century American politics.
     My best example of amorality in crime fiction is the brilliant insurance investigator in _Double Indemnity_, Keyes. He saves his company by deceiving Walter about what will happen if he escapes via boat at the end of the novel. He betrays Walter in every way: trapping him on board with death-bound Phyllis and then informing the ship's captain and police who Phyllis and Walter really are. Nothing personal; he likes Walter. But he likes his company, his reputation, and Lola better. They are all better off without Walter.

# Plain ASCII text only, please.  Anything else won't show up.
# To unsubscribe from the regular list, say "unsubscribe rara-avis" to
# majordomo@icomm.ca.  This will not work for the digest version.
# The web pages for the list are at http://www.miskatonic.org/rara-avis/ .

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 31 Aug 2003 EDT