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 analysis of Philip Marlowe
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 analysis of General Sternwood
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 analysis of Vivian Regan
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 analysis of Carmen Sternwood
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 analysis of Terrence “Rusty” Regan
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 analysis of Arthur Gwynn Geiger
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 analysis of Joe Brody
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 analysis of Harry Jones
“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 analysis of “The Blonde” / Agnes Lozelle
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 analysis of Bernie Ohls
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 analysis of Taggart Wilde
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 analysis of Lash Canino
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 analysis of Captain Cronjager –
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 analysis of Owen Taylor
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 analysis of Captain Al Gregory
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 analysis of Mona Mars
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.
A garage owner who helps Lash Canino hide Mona Mars.
The Maid / Mathilda
The Sternwoods’ matronly middle-aged maid.