Marlowe comes to, and sees a blonde woman in a sitting room. Marlowe sees he is tied up tightly on a couch. He looks at the woman and says “Hello.” She turns to look at him. She asks how he’s feeling, and knows his name.
The detective finds himself in a strange situation. He is tied securely, but watched over by an unintimidating figure. He is unsure how to approach the situation, not least because his head is still hurting.
The woman explains that Canino looked through his pockets and found his wallet. In response to Marlowe’s question, she confirms they’re in the house near Art Huck’s garage, and that the two other men are not there. Marlowe is surprised to hear she’s not a prisoner.
Marlowe’s first instinct is to gather information—where the other men are, what has happened, and what they know about him. He immediately begins to assess the situation and his options, focused on escape and survival.
Mona Mars doesn’t like it when Marlowe tells her he knows who she is. She says that’s a shame for him, as she dislikes killing. Marlowe mocks her for that, as she’s Eddie Mars’s wife, and asks for a drink.
As the reader has come to expect, Marlowe is better informed about the situation than he at first lets the other person believe. He also doesn’t let Mona’s false impressions of the world, in particular her husband’s transgressions, go unchallenged.
Marlowe takes in the room as he tells Mona that Eddie killed Rusty. She asserts that Eddie isn’t like that. Marlowe accuses her of liking racketeers. She tries to defend Eddie, but Marlowe says that Eddie’s “all the way outside” the law.
Mona becomes angry, repeating that Eddie is not a killer. Marlowe says Eddie orders Canino to kill, and that the detective has seen Canino kill. Wanting to fill the silence, Marlowe says Mona’s platinum hair is out of style. She shows him it’s a wig—she cut her hair off to show Eddie she was serious about hiding out so people wouldn’t think he’d killed Rusty.
The detective has no interest in sparing Mona’s feelings, telling her exactly what kind of man Eddie is. He does this in his own interests as well, as she is the only one who can untie him, and so convincing her he really is in mortal danger is Marlowe’s only hope for survival. Overwhelming Mona in this way also leads her to tell Marlowe more than she might have otherwise divulged.
Mona leaves the room and returns with a knife. She cuts the ropes holding Marlowe down, but doesn’t have the key for his handcuffs. Canino does. Mona explains she didn’t think Eddie was a killer. She collapses into a chair.
Mona it seems, wishes to stay on the moral side of the divide. This ensures Marlowe’s continued hopes for survival, as it seems he has finally made an ally.
Marlowe can stand but still has his hands cuffed behind his back. He tells Mona to leave with him, but she tells him not to waste time. He calls her Silver-Wig as she gives him a cigarette. Marlowe tells her about Jones’s death, and how Eddie ordered it. Mona tell him to leave, and laughs, saying she still loves Eddie.
Marlowe might have won Mona’s trust, but not her heart, as she mocks herself for still loving Eddie despite what she now knows about him. As with Lundgren’s misplaced revenge killing and Owen’s suicide, Mona’s emotions do not drive her toward self-preservation. Instead she rather illogically frees Marlowe, now an enemy of the dangerous man that she loves. In contrast, the surest route to survival would be focused self-interest, but Mona thinks only of others, to her own detriment.
Marlowe tries to convince “Silver-Wig” to go with him, but she won’t. The detective warns Mona that Canino might kill her, but she says she’s still his boss’s wife. Marlowe says Canino could kill Eddie easily. Mona tells Marlowe to leave again, and he kisses her before he does. She kisses him back. Marlowe leaves, walking out into the rain.
The rain is still falling, suggesting Marlowe is not yet safe. Caught up in the adrenaline of the moment, the two share a kiss, as both know their survival is in the balance. Marlowe walks out into the rain, embracing his fate, but determined to fight until the end.