The Maltese Falcon

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The Maltese Falcon Chapter 13 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
In the room, Spade gives the guns to Gutman who seems more impressed with Spade’s abilities than annoyed with the young man’s slipup. Gutman gives Spade a drink and then quickly launches into the history of the statue now identified as the Maltese falcon. Gutman claims that in the 1500s the rulers of Malta gave a gold and bejeweled falcon as symbol of their loyalty to Emperor Charles V, King of Spain. Gutman says the falcon passed from one owner to the next throughout the centuries and was eventually painted black to disguise its worth. Ultimately, the bird winded up in the hands of a Russian general named Kemidov who lives in Constantinople
Spade returns the guns to Gutman in an attempt to further emasculate the boy. Gutman’s description of the bird reveals how it was originally a symbol of loyalty and generosity. Since the color black often denotes evil or wrongness, the statue’s original symbolism becomes perverted when it is painted over. In contrast to its original meaning as a public display of loyalty, the bird was painted black to conceal its value so its owner could protect it from other people’s greed, but of course events have proven that such deviousness only increased the greed that people felt toward the falcon.
Themes
Lies and Deceptions  Theme Icon
Greed Theme Icon
At first, Gutman says he tried to buy the statue from Kemidov, but he refused so Gutman paid what he calls “agents” to steal it for him, but those same agents have yet to give him the statue. Gutman tells Spade that if he retrieves the bird, then he will give Spade a choice. He’ll pay him either $50,000 dollars or 25% of the overall profits once he sells the bird.
No longer a symbol of loyalty, the bird becomes a symbol for greed. Gutman is willing to steal and most likely kill just to get his hands on the bird. Gutman is another person who tries to hire Spade; Spade’s apparent immorality seems to make others think that he’s totally in it for the money, which may be true.
Themes
Greed Theme Icon
As Spade thinks over the deal, he suddenly realizes that his drink has been drugged. When he tries to stand, Gutman calls for the young man, now identified as Wilmer Cook, who comes and trips the disoriented Spade. As revenge for disarming him, Wilmer kicks Spade in the head and Spade goes unconsciousness.
Although Gutman has apparently told him the true history of the bird, he has deceptively drugged Spade for as of yet unknown reasons. Wilmer’s kick is a kind of revenge for Spade emasculating him earlier. Of course, Wilmer only kicks Spade once he’s been drugged, which isn’t all that manly a thing to do.
Themes
Lies and Deceptions  Theme Icon
Masculinity, Femininity, and Sexuality  Theme Icon