The Big Sleep

Arthur Gwynn Geiger Character Analysis

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 detective Philip Marlowe to investigate Geiger’s motives. Marlowe discovers Geiger’s store, and tails him back to his house. There, Geiger entertains Carmen before being shot and killed by a fleeing aggressor. Marlowe later discovers that the Sternwoods’ driver Owen Taylor is the murderer, having killed Geiger out of jealousy over Carmen. The stereotypically macho Marlowe is crudely dismissive of Geiger, who is homosexual, saying that Geiger’s Chinese interior decoration “has a stealthy nastiness, like a fag party.” Geiger’s companion Carol Lundgren kills Joe Brody in revenge for Geiger’s death, mistakenly thinking Brody had murdered Geiger while stealing his racket, or criminal venture. Marlowe mocks Lundgren, saying he must have been fond of “that queen,” referring to Geiger. Whether intentional on the part of Chandler or not, Marlowe’s disdain and disgust for homosexuals shows the pitfalls of the detective’s rigid sense of masculinity. Career criminal Eddie Mars, who tells Marlowe he is Geiger’s “landlord,” had encouraged Geiger to blackmail Sternwood to see if the old man was hiding anything. If Sternwood paid up on Geiger’s casual threat, the implication would have been that he was hiding a much more profitable secret—that is, that he knew what happened to his missing son-in-law, Rusty Regan.

Arthur Gwynn Geiger Quotes in The Big Sleep

The The Big Sleep quotes below are all either spoken by Arthur Gwynn Geiger or refer to Arthur Gwynn Geiger. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
The Corruption of Society Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Vintage edition of The Big Sleep published in 1939.
Chapter 12 Quotes

A pretty, spoiled and not very bright little girl who had gone very, very wrong, and nobody was doing anything about it. To hell with the rich. They made me sick.

Related Characters: Philip Marlowe (speaker), Carmen Sternwood, Arthur Gwynn Geiger
Page Number: 64
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 13 Quotes

I know you, Mr. Mars. The Cypress Club at Las Olindas. Flash gambling for flash people. The local law in your pocket and a wellgreased line into L.A. In other words, protection.

Related Characters: Philip Marlowe (speaker), Eddie Mars, Arthur Gwynn Geiger
Related Symbols: Money
Page Number: 72
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 14 Quotes

“What?” the blonde yelped. “You sit there and try to tell us Mr. Geiger ran that kind of business right down on the main drag? You’re nuts!” I leered at her politely. “Sure I do. Everybody knows the racket exists. Hollywood's made to order for it. If a thing like that has to exist, then right out on the street is where all practical coppers want it to exist. For the same reason they favor red light districts. They know where to flush the game when they want to.”

Page Number: 82
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 18 Quotes

I’m kind of glad that Taylor kid went off the pier. I’d hate to have to help send him to the deathhouse for rubbing that skunk.

Related Characters: Bernie Ohls (speaker), Philip Marlowe, Arthur Gwynn Geiger, Owen Taylor
Page Number: 104
Explanation and Analysis:
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“It’s obvious to anybody with eyes that that store is just a front for something. But the Hollywood police allowed it to operate, for their own reasons. I dare say the Grand Jury would like to know what those reasons are.” Wilde grinned. He said: “Grand Juries do ask those embarrassing questions sometimes—in a rather vain effort to find out just why cities are run as they are run.”

Related Characters: Philip Marlowe (speaker), Taggart Wilde (speaker), Arthur Gwynn Geiger
Page Number: 113
Explanation and Analysis:
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Arthur Gwynn Geiger Character Timeline in The Big Sleep

The timeline below shows where the character Arthur Gwynn Geiger appears in The Big Sleep. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 2 
The Corruption of Society Theme Icon
Wealth, Status, and Social Mobility Theme Icon
Cynicism and Survival Theme Icon
...General gives Marlowe the envelope with a threat inside: a note from an Arthur Gwynn Geiger, enclosing $5,000 in gambling-related I.O.U.s, signed by Carmen. (full context)
The Corruption of Society Theme Icon
Wealth, Status, and Social Mobility Theme Icon
Cynicism and Survival Theme Icon
...amount of money, and will be an annoyance to deal with otherwise. From the way Geiger has delivered his threat, Marlowe thinks the man must be experienced in pressuring rich victims.... (full context)
The Corruption of Society Theme Icon
Marlowe says he is willing to look into Geiger for the General. He charges $25 a day and expenses. The General says he’s willing... (full context)
Chapter 4
The Corruption of Society Theme Icon
Marlowe finds the blackmailer Geiger’s bookstore near Las Palmas. East Asian-style screens and antiques obscure the interior from view. Marlowe... (full context)
Chapter 5
Cynicism and Survival Theme Icon
At a phone booth, Marlowe looks up Geiger’s home address, as well as a couple legitimate rare bookstores. Going into a useful looking... (full context)
The Corruption of Society Theme Icon
It begins to rain as Marlowe runs back over to his car, opposite Geiger’s store. Marlowe opens the parcel he took from the customer earlier—it is a rented pornography... (full context)
Chapter 6
Wealth, Status, and Social Mobility Theme Icon
...his flooding car, as rain pours through the vehicle’s unsuitable convertible roof. Marlowe stakes out Geiger’s store. He buys a pint of whiskey to keep him company. Many well-dressed people get... (full context)
The Corruption of Society Theme Icon
Masculinity Theme Icon
Geiger himself finally appears at 4:00 p.m. A handsome male assistant (later revealed to be Carol... (full context)
The Corruption of Society Theme Icon
Wealth, Status, and Social Mobility Theme Icon
...in which Marlowe notes the street is very quiet, a woman drives up and enters Geiger’s house. Marlowe searches the newly arrived car and finds Carmen’s registration, before going back to... (full context)
Chapter 7
The Corruption of Society Theme Icon
The big room features East Asian decorations, similar to Geiger’s store, and Marlowe takes in every detail. Inside, Carmen is sitting on a throne-like chair,... (full context)
The Corruption of Society Theme Icon
Masculinity Theme Icon
...as he lifts the stopper out of the jug, Marlowe thinks the exotic drink matches Geiger’s usual tastes. The detective finds Carmen’s clothes and, in an attempt to bring her back... (full context)
The Corruption of Society Theme Icon
Masculinity Theme Icon
...is missing, which worries him. He searches the rest of the house, finding and taking Geiger’s keys as well as a notebook written in code. Marlowe carries the now unconscious Carmen... (full context)
Chapter 8
The Corruption of Society Theme Icon
...Mathilda. The detective turns down Norris’s offer of calling a cab, instead walking back to Geiger’s house in the pouring rain. Cab drivers have long memories, Marlowe thinks to himself as... (full context)
The Corruption of Society Theme Icon
Masculinity Theme Icon
After half an hour of walking, Marlowe arrives at Geiger’s house, which remains quiet. He takes a swig of the alcohol in his car and... (full context)
The Corruption of Society Theme Icon
...to the floor, Marlowe thinks he can spy two lines on the rug, as though Geiger’s two heels had been dragged toward the front door as someone hauled his body out.... (full context)
Chapter 9
The Corruption of Society Theme Icon
When Marlowe wakes the next morning the storm has passed and Geiger’s death hasn’t made it to the papers, suggesting the police don’t know about it yet.... (full context)
Chapter 10
Cynicism and Survival Theme Icon
Masculinity Theme Icon
After eating lunch, Marlowe goes to Geiger’s store and asks the unnamed blonde assistant (Agnes) if Geiger is in. Her smile is... (full context)
Cynicism and Survival Theme Icon
...affects an air of impatience and says he’ll just go up to the house if Geiger is ill. Agnes panics, her forced smile disappearing from her face, but she recovers her... (full context)
Chapter 11
The Corruption of Society Theme Icon
...detective pulls a photograph of Carmen from the night before, naked on the chair in Geiger’s house. (full context)
Chapter 12
The Corruption of Society Theme Icon
Cynicism and Survival Theme Icon
Marlowe is back at Geiger’s house, the scene of the previous night’s crime. He realizes he didn’t check the garage... (full context)
The Corruption of Society Theme Icon
Masculinity Theme Icon
In the daylight, Geiger’s Asian interior decorations disgust Marlowe, who sees the aesthetic as a “stealthy nastiness, like a... (full context)
Chapter 13
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Masculinity Theme Icon
Mars asks if Geiger is home. Marlowe says he and Carmen are business acquaintances who found the door open... (full context)
Cynicism and Survival Theme Icon
...not obstruct him. Mars inspects the room and quickly finds the pool of blood where Geiger had fallen. Mars stands back up with a gun in his hand. Marlowe feigns confused... (full context)
Cynicism and Survival Theme Icon
...name. The detective responds truthfully and claims he had come with Carmen to talk to Geiger about settling a blackmail dispute. Marlowe asks Mars why he had a key to the... (full context)
Cynicism and Survival Theme Icon
...has any theories on what happened. Marlowe responds with various scenarios, including one in which Geiger killed a live chicken in the sitting room while preparing for dinner. Mars says he... (full context)
Wealth, Status, and Social Mobility Theme Icon
Cynicism and Survival Theme Icon
...knows exactly who he is—a well-protected and well-connected gangster who runs a casino and oversees Geiger. Mars says he thinks someone has gone for Geiger and his pornography racket. Marlowe agrees,... (full context)
Cynicism and Survival Theme Icon
...back and forth in their conversation. He demands that Marlowe tell him what happened to Geiger because he’s worried the police will get involved, though he knows Marlowe wouldn’t go to... (full context)
Chapter 14
Cynicism and Survival Theme Icon
...detective’s knock, and “a brown expressionless face” fills the narrow opening. When Marlowe asks for Geiger, Brody says he doesn’t know the name. (full context)
Cynicism and Survival Theme Icon
Trying to talk his way in, Marlowe tells Brody he has Geiger’s notebook filled with clients’ names; because Brody has the books, they should work it out.... (full context)
Cynicism and Survival Theme Icon
...gun, saying he’s “not a tough guy—just careful.” Marlowe tells him the way he stole Geiger’s books was poorly done, “not careful enough.” The detective also advises the hidden figure who... (full context)
Masculinity Theme Icon
Without looking away from Marlowe, Brody calls Agnes—the blonde from Geiger’s store—out from behind the curtain. She tells Marlowe she knew he was “trouble.” Agnes lights... (full context)
The Corruption of Society Theme Icon
Wealth, Status, and Social Mobility Theme Icon
Cynicism and Survival Theme Icon
...the notebook is coded; with hundreds of names, the racket must be profitable—enough to kill Geiger over. Agnes is “outraged,” or at least pretends to be. Brody tells her to shut... (full context)
Cynicism and Survival Theme Icon
...to shut up and tells Marlowe to keep talking. The detective says that Brody shot Geiger to take over the store, took the camera plate with him when he left, and... (full context)
Cynicism and Survival Theme Icon
...angle. As such, Brody and Agnes both knew Carmen was at the house the night Geiger was killed, and what had happened. (full context)
Cynicism and Survival Theme Icon
Brody demands money for the naked photos of Carmen from the night Geiger was shot. Marlowe refuses. Brody asks how the detective found him and Agnes. The detective... (full context)
Cynicism and Survival Theme Icon
Marlowe asks Brody and Agnes if they’ve ever been to Geiger’s house, which they deny, insisting they weren’t there the previous night. Marlowe says he could... (full context)
Chapter 15
Cynicism and Survival Theme Icon
...Marlowe’s fight, and Carmen demands her photos from Brody. She says she saw him shoot Geiger. Marlowe, who now has Agnes’s gun, tells Carmen to calm down. Agnes uses the opportunity... (full context)
Chapter 16
Cynicism and Survival Theme Icon
...situation is going to lead to Brody ending up in jail for the murder of Geiger—and that of someone else. Brody is taken by surprise, and tells Marlowe to stay and... (full context)
Cynicism and Survival Theme Icon
...Brody where he was the previous night, and Brody admits he had recently been tailing Geiger to see who else was in on his racket. Brody was parked at the back... (full context)
Cynicism and Survival Theme Icon
...Marlowe cannot tie him to that death. Marlowe thinks he can—he suggests that Owen killed Geiger in jealousy over Carmen, took the photo, and then Brody chased after Owen to take... (full context)
Cynicism and Survival Theme Icon
Marlowe asks Brody how he knows it was Geiger who was killed. Brody says he assumed, and was sure of it after he had... (full context)
Masculinity Theme Icon
...his hand, Marlowe asks the figure for a light, and recognizes the good-looking kid from Geiger’s store. Marlowe quips, “You must have thought a lot of that Queen,” and the kid... (full context)
Cynicism and Survival Theme Icon
...boy to go with him instead of the cops, saying he is a friend of Geiger’s. The boy continues to swear at Marlowe, reaching into his jacket for his own gun. (full context)
Masculinity Theme Icon
They begin to drive toward Geiger’s house, and Marlowe asks the kid his name—Carol Lundgren. Marlowe tells him he shot the... (full context)
Chapter 17
Masculinity Theme Icon
It is nighttime as Marlowe and Lundgren pull up outside Geiger’s house. Marlowe tells Lundgren to open the door, as he knows “the fag,” meaning Geiger,... (full context)
Masculinity Theme Icon
Marlowe moves the car and drags the unconscious Lundgren into Geiger’s house. As Lundgren starts to come back to consciousness, Marlowe mocks him by telling him... (full context)
Masculinity Theme Icon
With Lundgren incapacitated on the floor, Marlowe searches the house again. Geiger’s body is on the boy’s bed, surrounded by incense and candles. The detective doesn’t approach... (full context)
Chapter 18
The Corruption of Society Theme Icon
Ohls stands in Geiger’s house, looking at Lundgren. They don’t need a confession from the boy, Marlowe tells the... (full context)
Masculinity Theme Icon
...The chief investigator adds he’s glad he doesn’t have to arrest Owen Taylor for killing Geiger. Ohls grabs Lundgren and looks at him with distaste as he puts the boy into... (full context)
The Corruption of Society Theme Icon
Ohls explains further that the dead man (Owen Taylor) had killed Geiger the night before. Lundgren, the boy in Ohls’s car outside, had lived with Geiger. At... (full context)
Cynicism and Survival Theme Icon
...that had happened, apart from Carmen threatening Joe Brody and Eddie Mars showing up at Geiger’s house. (full context)
The Corruption of Society Theme Icon
...Marlowe of allowing Joe Brody’s murder to take place by not telling the police about Geiger’s murder earlier. Marlowe defends himself by saying he could not have guessed that Lundgren would... (full context)
The Corruption of Society Theme Icon
Cynicism and Survival Theme Icon
...asserts that Joe Brody doesn’t seem the killing “type,” while Taylor had motive to kill Geiger, as he loved Carmen. (full context)
Cynicism and Survival Theme Icon
...Marlowe adds Lundgren probably later tailed the books to Joe Brody, and assumed Brody killed Geiger to get his racket. (full context)
The Corruption of Society Theme Icon
Marlowe puts all the evidence on the table: Geiger’s blackmail letter, Carmen’s photos, and Geiger’s blue notebook. Looking at Geiger’s note, Wilde opines that... (full context)
The Corruption of Society Theme Icon
Cynicism and Survival Theme Icon
...the pornography book from his car and shows the policemen. Marlowe says the police “allowed” Geiger’s illegal shop to operate in plain sight, which would be embarrassing for the police if... (full context)
The Corruption of Society Theme Icon
Wealth, Status, and Social Mobility Theme Icon
...to know he is well. That changes Wilde’s demeanor. Wilde hands the nude photos and Geiger’s blackmail note back to Marlowe. (full context)
Chapter 19
Cynicism and Survival Theme Icon
...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.... (full context)
The Corruption of Society Theme Icon
Wealth, Status, and Social Mobility Theme Icon
...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. (full context)
Chapter 21
Wealth, Status, and Social Mobility Theme Icon
...General read the newspapers and assumes the case is concluded. Marlowe explains he didn’t shoot Geiger, and will destroy the photos. Norris says he’s sending Marlowe a check for $500. (full context)
The Corruption of Society Theme Icon
Cynicism and Survival Theme Icon
...wants to rule Rusty Regan out of the blackmail story. Mars tells the detective that Geiger tried the blackmail angle on anyone he could. (full context)
Chapter 23
The Corruption of Society Theme Icon
Cynicism and Survival Theme Icon
Mrs. Regan accuses Marlowe of being “a killer.” He explains he didn’t kill Geiger or Brody, though he would have if needed. Mrs. Regan says that makes him “a... (full context)
Chapter 27
Cynicism and Survival Theme Icon
...As she drives off with the money, Marlowe thinks of all the men who have died—Geiger, Brody, and Jones—while Agnes doesn’t have a scratch.  (full context)
Chapter 30
The Corruption of Society Theme Icon
Wealth, Status, and Social Mobility Theme Icon
Cynicism and Survival Theme Icon
...said he hadn’t realized that Canino was a killer, and claimed he hadn’t heard about Geiger’s racket.  (full context)
Cynicism and Survival Theme Icon
...Gregory. Marlowe tells Sternwood he thought the old man was afraid Rusty was involved in Geiger’s blackmail scheme somehow. Marlowe explains Gregory knows a lot more than he lets on, so... (full context)
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Continuing, Marlowe explains Norris thought the job was done when Geiger was out of the way, but Marlowe didn’t see things that way. The detective says... (full context)
Chapter 32
Cynicism and Survival Theme Icon
...“tired” of the question. Marlowe tells Mrs. Regan everything ties together: Eddie Mars was behind Geiger’s blackmail scheme, because he wanted to know if General Sternwood was hiding anything. If not,... (full context)