RARA-AVIS: Sam Spade's morals

From: Michael Robison ( miker_zspider@yahoo.com)
Date: 03 Sep 2005

Kerry wrote about Sam Spade's morals:

"Bad for business" seems more an amoral statement to me. The killer of a business associate draws a lot of attention, and if people see that a detective cannot detect the killer of his partner, well, he cannot be very good. Not worth hiring. Yes, it's about public expectations, but it's about what a man should do to stay in business, not to be a moral person.

************** I agree, Kerry. Sam Spade appears to have some morals in THE MALTESE FALCON, but at the end he reveals that he has none. In my opinion, it only takes a rereading of the last ten pages to figure that out. In his conversation with Brigid, he tallies the reasons why he should turn her in, and his reasons go beyond the fact that she's guilty of murder. When she asks him what he would do if the falcon had been real, he shrugs and says that everything would have to be reweighed in that case.

Sam Spade is an opportunistic pragmatist, not a noble and selfless knight like Chandler's Marlowe. Sam loves Brigid but can't keep her because he doesn't trust her.


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