The Maltese Falcon

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Also known as Mr. G, Casper Gutman is the novel’s arch-villain, using his wealth and complete lack of loyalty or scruples to attain the statue of the Maltese falcon. He employed Joel Cairo and Wilmer Cook to find the statue for him. Described as the fat man, Gutman’s physical size is an outward expression of his excessive lifestyle of gluttony and greed.

Casper Gutman Quotes in The Maltese Falcon

The The Maltese Falcon quotes below are all either spoken by Casper Gutman or refer to Casper Gutman . For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Lies and Deceptions  Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Vintage edition of The Maltese Falcon published in 1992.
Chapter 11 Quotes

“Well, sir, here’s to plain speaking and clear understanding.”

Related Characters: Casper Gutman (speaker), Sam Spade
Page Number: 105
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Spade meets "the fat man" Casper Gutman. Along with Joe Cairo, whom we're already met, Gutman is one of the main villains in the novel--a greedy arch-criminal whose desire for the Maltese Falcon is suggested by his enormous weight. Ironically, Gutman greets Spade by making a toast to plain speaking (and in a typically masculine, friendly way designed to appeal to Spade). In reality, of course, Gutman favors anything but plain speaking--he's trying to deceive Spade and win the Falcon at all costs. Whenever a character in this novel starts to sound honest (Gutman, Cairo, Brigid), look out: it's a sure sign that they're about to tell a lie.

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“Keep that grunsel away from me while you’re making up your mind. I’ll kill him. I don’t like him. He makes me nervous. I’ll kill him the first time he gets in my way. I won’t give him an even break. I won’t give him a chance. I’ll kill him.”

Related Characters: Sam Spade (speaker), Casper Gutman , Wilmer Cook
Related Symbols: Guns
Page Number: 110
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Sam Spade, who's been talking to Casper Gutman, notices Gutman's henchmen, a young man named Wilmer. Spade calls Wilmer a "gunsel," a slang term that means both "homosexual" and "gunman."

First, notice that Spade threatens to kill Wilmer. It's possible that Spade is threatening to kill the man in order to intimidate Gutman into being honest--Spade doesn't want Gutman to double-cross him, and the best way to avoid a double-cross is to let everyone know that he (Spade) is dangerous.

Second, the passage reinforces the homophobia and aggressive masculinity of Spade's universe. Spade is, indeed, "uncomfortable" around Wilmer, for much the same reasons that he was uncomfortable around Joe Cairo (another villainous character whom the novel portrays as effeminate). Spade's status as the antihero of the novel--dangerous, but also the protector of right and wrong--is closely linked to his status as the most masculine character in the novel.

Chapter 18 Quotes

“At one time or another I’ve had to tell everybody from the Supreme Court down to go to hell, and I’ve got away with it. I got away with it because I never let myself forget that a day of reckoning was coming. I never forget that when the day of reckoning comes I want to be all set to march into headquarters pushing a victim in front of me, saying: ‘Here, you chumps, is your criminal!’ As long as I can do that I can put my thumb to my nose and wriggle my fingers at all the laws in the book.”

Related Characters: Sam Spade (speaker), Casper Gutman
Page Number: 176
Explanation and Analysis:

Here Spade begins to craft a story to tell the police. Spade knows the ironclad rule of law enforcement: somebody has to go to jail. Indeed, spade has always been able to coexist with the police and the crime world because he respects such a rule: he can get away with disrespecting authorities because he gets results, and sends people to prison at the right time. Now (partly because there's a lot of suspicion directed at Spade himself), Spade knows he has to send someone to jail for the murder of Thursby and Jacobi.

The passage shows Spade at his most villainous, and his most anti-heroic. Spade doesn't bother to talk about whether the people he sends to jail are or guilty or innocent--on the contrary, he just talks about "getting results." Spade obeys a set of rules, and yet his "code" seems immoral by any standard: Spade is even willing to send innocent people to prison for crimes they didn't commit, as long as it maintains his independence and the general sense that "justice" has been served.

“Bryan is like most district attorneys. He’s more interested in how his record will look on paper than anything else. He’d rather drop a doubtful case than try it and have it go against him. I don’t know that he ever deliberately framed anybody he believed innocent if he could scrape up, or twist into shape, proof of their guilt.”

Related Characters: Sam Spade (speaker), Casper Gutman , District Attorney Bryan
Page Number: 180
Explanation and Analysis:

Spade continues to try to convince Casper Gutman to frame Wilmer Cook for the murders of Jacobi and Thursby. Spade knows that somebody needs to go to jail for the murders--furthermore, he knows that the District Attorney, Bryant, will want to "get results" by sending someone to prison. Spade admits that Bryant doesn't exactly "frame" innocent people, but he suggests that Bryant does twist the truth to ensure a conviction.

In short, Spade shows that he knows all about the world of law enforcement. In the hard-boiled world of Hammett's novel, officials don't really care about right and wrong at all--they just care about how their reputations seem on paper. Bryant, a powerful man, is easy to control, because he's so deeply invested in his career and his public appearance. Therefore, Spade can sent Wilmer to prison, knowing that Wilmer's (relative) innocence of some crimes won't seriously bother Bryant at all.

Chapter 19 Quotes

“Well, Wilmer, I’m sorry indeed to lose you, and I want you to know that I couldn’t be any fonder of you if you were my own son; but – well, by Gad! – if you lose a son it’s possible to get another – and there’s only one Maltese falcon.”

Related Characters: Casper Gutman (speaker), Wilmer Cook
Related Symbols: The Maltese Falcon
Page Number: 194
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Casper Gutman's deviousness couldn't be clearer. Spade knows that somebody needs to go to jail: he suggests that he and Casper frame Casper's henchman, Wilmer Cook, for the murders of Thursby and Jacobi. Gutman is at first reluctant to give up Wilmer, whom he describes as being "like a son to me." But within just a couple minutes, Gutman gives up his "son," reasoning that the Maltese Falcon is more valuable to him. Gutman thinks that he'll be able to get the Falcon with Spade's help, get off scot-free for the murders, and live happily ever after--sending Wilmer to jail is a small price to pay.

The irony, of course, is that there are, in fact, multiple falcons--indeed, the "Maltese Falcon" in Gutman's possession is actually a fake. Gutman sacrifices his loyalties and his friendships for the sake of material possessions--possessions that turn out to be worthless.

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Casper Gutman Character Timeline in The Maltese Falcon

The timeline below shows where the character Casper Gutman appears in The Maltese Falcon. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 11: The Fat Man
...the office, Spade receives a phone call from Mr. G., who identifies himself as Casper Gutman, and they decide to meet that afternoon at Gutman’s hotel room. After Spade puts down... (full context)
Lies and Deceptions  Theme Icon
Authority, Justice, and a Code of Ethics Theme Icon
Masculinity, Femininity, and Sexuality  Theme Icon
Arriving at his hotel suite, Spade comes face to face with Casper Gutman, who the narrator describes as extremely fat. Very talkative, Gutman claims that they’re both honest,... (full context)
Chapter 12: Merry-go-Round
Lies and Deceptions  Theme Icon
Masculinity, Femininity, and Sexuality  Theme Icon
...him. Confused, Spade says he put Brigid in the cab himself before leaving to meet Gutman. Spade goes to where the cabs line up outside his office and finds the driver... (full context)
Masculinity, Femininity, and Sexuality  Theme Icon
...is pointing a gun at him from within his coat pocket. The young man says Gutman wants to see him, so they go together to Gutman’s hotel room. Only a few... (full context)
Chapter 13: The Emperor’s Gift
Lies and Deceptions  Theme Icon
Greed Theme Icon
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... (full context)
Greed Theme Icon
At first, Gutman says he tried to buy the statue from Kemidov, but he refused so Gutman paid... (full context)
Lies and Deceptions  Theme Icon
Masculinity, Femininity, and Sexuality  Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
Chapter 14: La Paloma
Lies and Deceptions  Theme Icon
...her and she’s shocked to see the large bruise on his head. He explains that Gutman drugged him and that he’s been unconscious for twelve hours, which has given Gutman and... (full context)
Chapter 16: The Third Murder
Lies and Deceptions  Theme Icon
...from the La Paloma. From the interviews, Spade was able to piece together that Brigid, Gutman, Cairo, Wilmer, and Captain Jacobi of the La Paloma had all met onboard the ship... (full context)
Lies and Deceptions  Theme Icon
Greed Theme Icon
Fate and Death Theme Icon
Love and Sex  Theme Icon
...As he revels in his triumph, Effie gets a call from Brigid who is at Gutman’s hotel and claims to be danger. (full context)
Chapter 17: Saturday Night
Greed Theme Icon
Masculinity, Femininity, and Sexuality  Theme Icon
Love and Sex  Theme Icon
...key and mails it express to his apartment. With the falcon safe, Spade heads to Gutman’s hotel room where a beautiful young woman, Rhea Gutman, lets him in. As soon as... (full context)
Lies and Deceptions  Theme Icon
Masculinity, Femininity, and Sexuality  Theme Icon
Spade helps her walk back inside the apartment, realizing that Gutman must have drugged her. In his arms, Rhea reveals that she’s been keeping herself awake... (full context)
Lies and Deceptions  Theme Icon
...until he came home. When they enter his apartment, the light suddenly turns on and Gutman along with Wilmer and Cairo, each holding guns, are waiting for them. (full context)
Chapter 18: The Fall-Guy
Lies and Deceptions  Theme Icon
Greed Theme Icon
Spade and Brigid enter the room and sit on the couch across from Gutman. Cairo and Wilmer lower their weapons and stand beside the couch. Gutman admits to the... (full context)
Lies and Deceptions  Theme Icon
Authority, Justice, and a Code of Ethics Theme Icon
Greed Theme Icon
...their trail. To everyone’s surprise, Spade suggests they tell the police Wilmer committed the crimes. Gutman politely refuses Spade’s suggestion, saying that Wilmer is like a son to him. (full context)
Lies and Deceptions  Theme Icon
Love and Sex  Theme Icon
Unable to listen to Spade’s plan any longer, Wilmer threatens to kill Spade. Gutman calms Wilmer by telling Spade that his suggestion is simply too impractical. Cairo suggests that... (full context)
Greed Theme Icon
Masculinity, Femininity, and Sexuality  Theme Icon
Spade tells Gutman that he hopes Wilmer’s gun is not preventing him from betraying Wilmer since Spade could... (full context)
Chapter 19: The Russian’s Hand
Lies and Deceptions  Theme Icon
Masculinity, Femininity, and Sexuality  Theme Icon
Love and Sex  Theme Icon
...he silently sulks in the corner. After Cairo reluctantly agrees to betray Wilmer, Spade tells Gutman to provide him the information about the murders so he can convincingly frame Wilmer. (full context)
Lies and Deceptions  Theme Icon
Greed Theme Icon
Gutman explains that Wilmer killed Thursby so that Brigid would fear that she was next and... (full context)
Lies and Deceptions  Theme Icon
Greed Theme Icon
...the info, Spade asks Brigid to make them some coffee. During the struggle with Wilmer, Gutman had noticed Brigid pick up the envelope with the cash. As she goes to the... (full context)
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Love and Sex  Theme Icon
After counting the money, Gutman claims that one of the one-thousand dollar bills is missing and accuses Brigid of stealing... (full context)
Lies and Deceptions  Theme Icon
Greed Theme Icon
Masculinity, Femininity, and Sexuality  Theme Icon
Brigid goes into the kitchen to prepare food and coffee as Spade confronts Gutman, claiming that Gutman himself stole the bill while he counted the money. After Spade says... (full context)
Lies and Deceptions  Theme Icon
Greed Theme Icon
...package, hands it to Spade at the doorway, and leaves. After tearing the package open, Gutman chips away at the falcon’s black enamel and finds that the statue is made of... (full context)
Lies and Deceptions  Theme Icon
Greed Theme Icon
Gutman explains that Kemidov must have discovered the true worth of the statue and replaced it... (full context)
Chapter 20: If They Hang You
Lies and Deceptions  Theme Icon
Authority, Justice, and a Code of Ethics Theme Icon
...leave, Spade calls Polhaus and lets him know that Wilmer killed Thursby and Jacobi on Gutman and Cairo’s orders. After hanging up, Spade tells Brigid that she needs to tell him... (full context)
Lies and Deceptions  Theme Icon
Greed Theme Icon
...would arrest Thursby for the crime. But after she heard Thursby was shot, she knew Gutman was in town and she would need another protector. Afraid of Gutman, she went back... (full context)
Lies and Deceptions  Theme Icon
Authority, Justice, and a Code of Ethics Theme Icon
Greed Theme Icon
Love and Sex  Theme Icon
...criminals, and take Brigid away. Spade gives them the one-thousand dollar bill as evidence of Gutman trying to bribe him, but the police tell Spade that Wilmer already killed Gutman before... (full context)