The Big Sleep

The Big Sleep Chapter 19 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
As Marlowe steps into the lobby of his apartment building, one of Eddie Mars’s men is waiting for him. Tired and irritable, Marlowe dares the man to get to his gun quicker than him. The man says he has no orders to fight, so he leaves. Left in peace, Marlowe gets into his apartment and cleans Carmen’s gun.
In a bad mood, Marlowe readies himself to fight the thug sent to collect him, as the detective assumes the worst of the situation and steels himself to meet his perceived aggressor head on. Marlowe’s show of force has the intended effect, and he is left in peace. 
Themes
Cynicism and Survival Theme Icon
The phone rings as Marlowe holds a freshly made drink. He picks the phone up and Eddie Mars asks the detective if he has kept the racketeer’s name out of his report to the police, who are now at Geiger’s house. Marlowe confirms he did, and Mars thanks him. Mars then asks who murdered Geiger. Marlowe gives evasive answers, finally explaining that the murderer was someone Mars had never met.
Although relatively safer on a phone call rather than in person, with guns involved, Marlowe is still on the defensive, unwilling to give Mars more information than necessary. Mars offers a truce, but Marlowe remains reluctant to draw too close to this disreputable figure.
Themes
Cynicism and Survival Theme Icon
Mars asks Marlowe if the private detective is looking for the missing Rusty Regan. Frustrated, Marlowe says he’s not, but Mars invites Marlowe to his casino to talk about it anyway.
Mars does not believe Marlowe, indicating he is aware the private detective avoids offering directly truthful answers.
Themes
Cynicism and Survival Theme Icon
After Mars hangs up, Marlowe calls the Sternwood house and gets through to Mr. Norris. He leaves a message for Mrs. Regan that he has all of Carmen’s nude photos. The butler sounds relieved.
Rather than dealing with Mrs. Regan directly and entering another battle of words and wits, Marlowe leaves a message with Norris. Although reluctant to deal with a verbal exchange, Marlowe has been acting in Mrs. Regan’s and her sister’s interests.
Themes
Cynicism and Survival Theme Icon
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A few minutes later, Marlowe’s phone starts ringing but he doesn’t answer it. It continues to ring on and off throughout the evening, and Marlowe muffles the bell when he goes to bed. 
Marlowe still has no energy to contend with the outside world, in which every interaction is a battle of wills. He opts for a quiet night instead.
Themes
Cynicism and Survival Theme Icon
In the morning, Marlowe reads the newspapers and sees the Sternwoods have been kept out of the stories as agreed. Owen’s death is not connected to the other murders. Captain Cronjager supposedly solved the other cases—Brody supposedly shot Geiger and Lundgren shot Brody in revenge. Marlowe sneers at the newspapers’ typical wild inaccuracies.
As agreed with the police, the Sternwood family name has been kept out of the reports, showing how high connections protect the wealthy. Yet the fact that even the newspapers do not tell the truth shows the depths of corruption in the city.
Themes
The Corruption of Society Theme Icon
Wealth, Status, and Social Mobility Theme Icon