The Maltese Falcon

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The Maltese Falcon Chapter 3 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
When Spade arrives at his office the next morning, Effie informs him that Iva Archer is waiting for him in his private office. Behind his closed door, Iva and Spade kiss and embrace. Since she has been cheating on her husband with Spade, Iva asks if Spade killed Miles out of jealousy for her. Shocked she would think that, he laughs and pulls away from her instead of answering her question. When she starts to cry, he embraces her again and tells her he will visit her at her home on an upcoming night.
Spade’s affair with his partner’s wife makes him appear more like an “antihero” – a novel’s protagonist who lacks conventional ethical or heroic attributes. To Iva, Spade appears so morally dubious that he seems like the type of person to kill his partner in an act of jealousy or love for her (though it also seems possible that Iva wants to be the kind of woman for whom a man would kill his partner).
Themes
Lies and Deceptions  Theme Icon
Authority, Justice, and a Code of Ethics Theme Icon
Love and Sex  Theme Icon
After Iva leaves, Effie enters his office and asks about what Iva wanted. Spade tells her that Iva thinks he killed Archer. Effie wonders aloud if Iva believes that because Archer’s death would free her to marry Spade, since Archer was refusing to give her a divorce. Spade responds by telling her the police think he, Spade, killed Thursby, not Archer. Feeling bad for Spade for being accused of these crimes, Effie rolls a cigarette for him and places it in his mouth while he leans his head against her hip.
Although Spade is romantically involved with Iva, he seems to get his emotional support from Effie, who takes on a sort of familial role in how she nurtures him. Their relationship is nonsexual but highly intimate. Effie senses that Iva actually seemed to want Spade to kill Archer.
Themes
Lies and Deceptions  Theme Icon
Masculinity, Femininity, and Sexuality  Theme Icon
Love and Sex  Theme Icon
Effie asks if it were possible that Iva killed Archer. Effie explains that when she visited Iva last night to tell her about Archer’s death, she noticed that Iva had only arrived home minutes before Effie knocked at the door. Believing that Iva doesn’t have an inclination towards violence or murder, Spade reassures her that Iva didn’t kill Archer. As Spade heads out the door, he tells Effie to change the name on their office door from Spade & Archer to Samuel Spade.
Since Iva may be somehow involved in Archer’s death, she no longer becomes a credible source of information or a person the reader can trust. Changing the name of his agency the day after his partner dies, Spade reveals his utmost practicality as well as his lack of sentimentality for his partner.
Themes
Lies and Deceptions  Theme Icon
Masculinity, Femininity, and Sexuality  Theme Icon
Love and Sex  Theme Icon
Spade arrives at Wonderly’s hotel and discovers that she checked out that morning. When Spade returns to the office, Effie tells him that Wonderly called to say that she’s moved to a different hotel in San Francisco. Spade takes the note on which Effie wrote down this information and sets it on fire with his lighter. Effie looks at him disapprovingly, but Spade simply says that’s the way it has to be.
Although burning the note isn’t illegal, it does suggest that Spade wants to protect Wonderly’s info even from the police who might come and search his office. Effie’s response to Spade setting it on fire reveals that she believes it wrong to hide information from the police.
Themes
Lies and Deceptions  Theme Icon
Authority, Justice, and a Code of Ethics Theme Icon
Masculinity, Femininity, and Sexuality  Theme Icon
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