The Big Sleep

The Big Sleep Chapter 10 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
After eating lunch, Marlowe goes to Geiger’s store and asks the unnamed blonde assistant (Agnes) if Geiger is in. Her smile is forced. Marlowe attempts to appear effeminate to throw her off guard, tapping his wrist with his glasses “delicately.” He pretends to be a salesman, and “the blonde” suggests he tries again tomorrow, as Geiger is due in.
Again deciding not to talk things out honestly with the assistant at Geiger’s store, Marlowe this time goes as far as to play act. Concealing his true nature in this way shows that Marlowe identifies himself as a masculine man, an identity that to him does not include physical delicacy.
Themes
Cynicism and Survival Theme Icon
Masculinity Theme Icon
Marlowe affects an air of impatience and says he’ll just go up to the house if Geiger is ill. Agnes panics, her forced smile disappearing from her face, but she recovers her composure. She says he’s out of town.
Agnes’ reaction suggests she might know something about the house that she wouldn’t want someone to see—it’s probable she knows about Geiger’s murder. Although no one is telling the truth in this exchange, Marlowe gets the information he needs anyway.
Themes
Cynicism and Survival Theme Icon
The door into the partitioned room opens briefly, and Marlowe spots the good looking male assistant (Carol Lundgren). He also sees that the store’s supply of books is being hauled out. Marlowe takes his leave of Agnes.
If Geiger’s books are being moved, the question now is who is relocating them, given that Geiger is dead. This new lead means Agnes is no longer necessary to Marlowe, and so he cuts the act short and leaves.
Themes
Cynicism and Survival Theme Icon
Marlowe walks round to the back of the property, where he sees a man in overalls shifting boxes into an unmarked black van. Marlowe jumps in a cab and tells the driver to tail the van as it leaves. The excited young driver is happy to oblige.
Whoever is moving the boxes could have killed Geiger to take over his store, so following the van could lead Marlowe to the suspect. This is a lead the detective needs.
Themes
The Corruption of Society Theme Icon
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They tail the van, briefly losing sight of it at Brittany Place before again finding it unloading in the garage of a nearby apartment block. Marlowe looks at the names on the mailboxes, and spies the name Joe Brody at 405.
Marlowe remembers the name Joe Brody from his first talk with General Sternwood—Brody had previously blackmailed the General and had been involved with Carmen. This disreputable man could be the killer.
Themes
The Corruption of Society Theme Icon
Marlowe walks down the stairs to the garage to see the man loading boxes into the elevator. The detective tells him to “watch the weight,” and asks where it’s all going. Assuming Marlowe is the building manager, the man says the stuff is going to 405.
While not being wholly honest with the delivery man, Marlowe doesn’t lie. He allows the man to assume he is the building manager, thereby getting the information he needs. Of course, Marlowe could have just asked without the deception, but the detective knows the city too well to think the man will just provide that information because the detective wants it.
Themes
Cynicism and Survival Theme Icon
His assumption confirmed, Marlowe gets back into the cab and has the driver take him to his office, where a client is waiting for him.
Marlowe’s deceptive approach has given him the information he needs, and he returns home.
Themes
Cynicism and Survival Theme Icon