The Big Sleep

The Big Sleep Chapter 17 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
It is nighttime as Marlowe and Lundgren pull up outside Geiger’s house. Marlowe tells Lundgren to open the door, as he knows “the fag,” meaning Geiger, gave Lundgren a key. The detective tells Lundgren he knows the masculine-style bedroom in the house is his.
Marlowe continues to verbally abuse Lundgren and Geiger’s memory, acting more aggressively toward them than he has toward any other characters. Their homosexuality seems to offend him more than the pornography, gambling, or even killing. To Marlowe, this betrayal of proper masculinity is a heinous crime. In comparison, Marlowe had expressed sympathy for Owen, also a killer, whom Carmen had manipulated.
Themes
Masculinity Theme Icon
Marlowe has the gun pointed at Lundgren, who is so angry he punches Marlowe anyway. The detective gets hit, but tells himself that “a pansy” can’t punch properly. Marlowe drops the gun on the floor to bait Lundgren, who lunges for it. As Lundgren reaches for the gun, Marlowe hits the boy hard, and Lundgren falls to the floor. They tussle, and finally Marlowe gets Lundgren into a headlock and chokes him until he passes out. Marlowe then handcuffs him.
Again, Marlowe emphasizes Carol’s lack of conventional masculinity as a critical character flaw, something that defines and weakens every aspect of him. The two men fight for survival, one to avoid the executioner and the other to avoid being shot with his newly acquired guns.
Themes
Cynicism and Survival Theme Icon
Masculinity Theme Icon
Marlowe moves the car and drags the unconscious Lundgren into Geiger’s house. As Lundgren starts to come back to consciousness, Marlowe mocks him by telling him how he’ll be trying not to breathe when he’s in the government “gas chamber,” executed by “cyanide fumes.”
Marlowe continues to mock and verbally abuse Lundgren, taunting him about the execution by cyanide awaiting him—a death resembling insect fumigation. Carol is a bug, unwanted and set to be disposed of.
Themes
Masculinity Theme Icon
With Lundgren incapacitated on the floor, Marlowe searches the house again. Geiger’s body is on the boy’s bed, surrounded by incense and candles. The detective doesn’t approach the body.
Carol presumably moved the body previously, which now lies in a mock funeral parlor. Marlowe cannot bring himself to look at the scene for longer than necessary, disgusted by the sentiment. 
Themes
Masculinity Theme Icon
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Marlowe calls chief investigator Bernie Ohls. The private detective asks the cop if they had found a gun on Owen Taylor’s dead body, adding that it should have three empty shells. Ohls is astounded. Marlowe tells him to come to Geiger’s address and he’ll see where the shells were spent.
Having previously held back vital information for Ohls’s case, Marlowe now provides a crime scene and suspect, ready for collection. Marlowe timed this revelation to suit his client’s interests.
Themes
Cynicism and Survival Theme Icon