The Big Sleep

Philip Marlowe

Protagonist and narrator Philip Marlowe is an experienced and well-networked private detective. He is hired by General Sternwood to discover why Arthur Gwynn Geiger is blackmailing him; district attorney Taggart Wilde, whom Marlowe used… (read full character analysis)

General Sternwood

An elderly, rich former general whose family made their money in the oilfields near his L.A. mansion. Sternwood is being blackmailed by Arthur Gwynn Geiger and, on the recommendation of his friend and district attorney… (read full character analysis)

Vivian Regan

General Sternwood’s eldest daughter, Vivian Regan’s current husband, Rusty Regan, has been missing for some time at the start of the novel. When the General hires Philip Marlowe to investigate why Arthur Gwynn(read full character analysis)

Carmen Sternwood

General Sternwood’s younger daughter. Philip Marlowe discovers at the end of the novel that Carmen is mentally ill and killed Rusty Regan, her older sister Vivian Regan’s husband, in a fit of… (read full character analysis)

Eddie Mars

Eddie Mars is a “well-dressed,” manicured racketeer who runs a casino called the Cypress Club in a suburb of L.A. He first meets Philip Marlowe when the two run into each other at the house… (read full character analysis)
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Terrence “Rusty” Regan

Although Rusty Regan does not appear in person in The Big Sleep, his presence, or lack thereof, hangs over the text, as he has been missing since before the narrative picks up. Rusty married… (read full character analysis)

Arthur Gwynn Geiger

The owner of an illegal pornography store, the overweight and pretentious Geiger blackmails General Sternwood for $5,000, claiming that the old man’s daughter, Carmen Sternwood, owes him gambling debts. In response, Sternwood hires private… (read full character analysis)

Joe Brody

Joe Brody is a black grifter who tries and fails to steal Arthur Gwynn Geiger’s racket, an illegal pornography outlet. He does so with the help of Geiger’s store assistant, “the blonde,” Agnes(read full character analysis)

Harry Jones

Harry Jones is a grifter who makes money by running a gambling book. He tails private detective Philip Marlowe’s car, as he wants to sell Marlowe information on the whereabouts of the missing Mona(read full character analysis)

“The Blonde” / Agnes Lozelle

Referred to as “the blonde,” Agnes works for Arthur Gwynn Geiger’s illegal pornography outlet. She also works with Joe Brody to steal the racket from under Geiger. Agnes helps Brody to blackmail Mrs. Regan(read full character analysis)

Bernie Ohls

Chief investigator at the L.A. police department, Bernie Ohls is a long-time contact of private detective Philip Marlowe. Ohls puts Marlowe him in touch with General Sternwood. He also offers Marlowe information about… (read full character analysis)

Taggart Wilde

District attorney Wilde is an old friend of General Sternwood’s. Wilde puts Sternwood in contact with private detective Philip Marlowe when Arthur Gwynn Geiger blackmails the General. Marlowe used to work for Wilde before… (read full character analysis)

Lash Canino

Racketeer Eddie Mars’s “best boy,” Lash Canino is a lethal hired assassin. He kills the grifter Harry Jones, who’d been snooping into Mars’s business, by lacing his whiskey with cyanide. Canino also… (read full character analysis)

Captain Cronjager –

An inept and possibly corrupt L.A. police captain, Cronjager dislikes private detective Philip Marlowe’s involvement in the Arthur Gwynn Geiger murder case. Marlowe tells Cronjager to his face that the police are neglecting their… (read full character analysis)

Owen Taylor

The driver for General Sternwood and his family, Taylor is in love with his employer’s daughter, Carmen. He gives her a small gun as a gift. Taylor later kills Arthur Gwynn Geiger out of… (read full character analysis)

Captain Al Gregory

“Burly” Captain Gregory works at the Missing Persons Bureau, and is assigned the case of missing person Rusty Regan. He helps Philip Marlowe in his investigation into why Arthur Gwynn Geiger is blackmailing Regan’s… (read full character analysis)

Mona Mars

The wife of racketeer Eddie Mars, Mona tells herself that her criminal husband doesn’t have blood on his hands. Mona hides after the disappearance of Rusty Regan to support Eddie’s lie that she and… (read full character analysis)
Minor Characters
Carol Lundgren
Arthur Gwynn Geiger’s companion and implied lover, the young and handsome Carol Lundgren kills a grifter called Joe Brody, who he thinks murdered his partner. Philip Marlowe overpowers Lundgren as he flees the scene of the crime. Marlowe turns Lundgren over to the police.
Mr. Vincent Norris
General Sternwood’s butler, Mr. Norris knows all of the family’s misdeeds anbutd would “never tell,” according to his employer’s elder daughter, Mrs. Regan.
Art Huck
A garage owner who helps Lash Canino hide Mona Mars.
The Maid / Mathilda
The Sternwoods’ matronly middle-aged maid.