The Big Sleep

The Big Sleep Chapter 26 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
The rain has stopped but the roads are “flooded” as Marlowe drives to Jones’s office, “a nasty building.” Marlowe finds the office on the fourth floor, and hears Jones’s voice identify Canino, with whom he is talking. Marlowe hears Canino respond menacingly.
The office building is full of sham businesses, as are many across the city. Hearing Canino’s voice instantly puts Marlowe on the alert, not only because of his reputation but also his threatening tone.
Themes
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Cynicism and Survival Theme Icon
Marlowe breaks into another door to Jones’s office, and stalks through the adjoining rooms to peer through a door into the room Jones and Canino are in. From his hiding place, the detective hears Canino telling Jones that “Eddie don’t like” the fact Jones went to talk to Marlowe.
Marlowe remains hidden, unwilling to expose himself to a dangerous situation. Canino explains that Eddie doesn’t appreciate a lowly grifter potentially messing up his plans.
Themes
Wealth, Status, and Social Mobility Theme Icon
Cynicism and Survival Theme Icon
Jones gives Canino a weak excuse for why Agnes wants to talk to Marlowe, which doesn’t go down well with Canino. Canino asks where Agnes is, but Jones won’t tell him. Canino pulls out a gun, and repeats the question. Jones gives in and gives Canino an address.
Answering Canino’s questions well is a life or death matter for Jones, as well as for Agnes. In the most transparent example in the novel, Jones is fighting for survival with only his words as his weapons. 
Themes
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Canino pours a couple of drinks for him and Jones. There is a sound of choking and vomiting, then a “thud.” Canino quips aloud that Jones got “sick from just one drink.” There is no response. Canino leaves.
Jones has failed in his bid for survival. With Jones’s death at the hands of Canino, Eddie maintains his superiority in the criminal world without even doing the dirty work himself.
Themes
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Cynicism and Survival Theme Icon
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Marlowe enters the room to find Jones dead in his chair. The detective sniffs the whiskey bottle and smells cyanide. Marlowe picks up the phone and finds the number for the address Jones gave Canino. The person who answers believes Marlowe’s pretense that he is a cop, and confirms there is no Agnes at the address—Jones had lied to protect her.
Jones’s death by poisoning reflects his low social standing in this society. He has been exterminated by a person of higher standing for straying into the wrong situation.Marlowe, seeking to warn Agnes, finds out that Jones’s last act was to protect her, which is both a selfless act and displays Jones’s shrewd assessment of Canino’s nature.
Themes
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Cynicism and Survival Theme Icon
Standing over Jones’s corpse, Marlowe marvels that the “little dead man” was so honorable. He searches Jones’s body, but doesn’t find anything useful.
Even after Jones’s death, Marlowe still treats him with disdain, focusing more on the man’s height than on his selfless act, showing Marlowe’s rigid concept of masculinity focuses on physical power and social norms rather than honorable character traits.
Themes
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Marlowe begins to leave the office when the phone rings. It’s Agnes. Marlowe tells her that Jones ran off when Canino started looking for him, though Agnes doesn’t believe Marlowe. Nevertheless, she wants the money and arranges to meet with him.
The detective still wants the information from Agnes, and so doesn’t want to scare her off by telling her Canino murdered Jones and is looking for her. Agnes meanwhile, is focused on getting paid.
Themes
Cynicism and Survival Theme Icon