The Big Sleep

Taggart Wilde Character Analysis

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 being “fired” for “insubordination.” Wilde turns a blind eye to the L.A. police’s neglect of duty and seeming incompetence, noting that juries ask “embarrassing questions” in a “vain effort” to get to the truth. Wilde keeps his friend Sternwood’s name out of the papers despite both of the General’s daughters being involved in repeated scandals. As such, he represents the failure of authority figures to protect America’s values, allowing moral decay to spread throughout the city.

Taggart Wilde Quotes in The Big Sleep

The The Big Sleep quotes below are all either spoken by Taggart Wilde or refer to Taggart Wilde. 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 18 Quotes

“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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Cops get very large and emphatic when an outsider tries to hide anything, but they do the same things themselves every other day, to oblige their friends or anybody with a little pull.

Related Characters: Philip Marlowe (speaker), Taggart Wilde
Related Symbols: Money
Page Number: 114
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

I’ve done all my office permits—and maybe a good deal more—to save the old man from grief. But in the long run it can’t be done. Those girls of his are bound certain to hook up with something that can't be hushed, especially that little blonde brat. They ought not to be running around loose. I blame the old man for that.

Page Number: 114
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
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Taggart Wilde Character Timeline in The Big Sleep

The timeline below shows where the character Taggart Wilde appears in The Big Sleep. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 18
Masculinity Theme Icon
Ohls tells Marlowe they will all have to drive over to District Attorney Taggart Wilde’s place. The chief investigator adds he’s glad he doesn’t have to arrest Owen Taylor for... (full context)
Wealth, Status, and Social Mobility Theme Icon
Marlowe follows in his car as they drive to Wilde’s house. The house is white framed and traditional. Wilde is clearly from a well-known and... (full context)
Wealth, Status, and Social Mobility Theme Icon
The group is led through a large, well-furnished house, to a study. Inside, Wilde is smoking a cigar and drinking coffee as “cold-eyed” Captain Cronjager looks at the group.... (full context)
The Corruption of Society Theme Icon
Cynicism and Survival Theme Icon
...has the suspect in his car right outside, and puts the gun on the desk. Wilde finds this amusing. Ohls adds there are two more deaths involved, asking if Cronjager has... (full context)
The Corruption of Society Theme Icon
Cynicism and Survival Theme Icon
...wealthy family who were being blackmailed, and who had called Marlowe in to help on Wilde’s recommendation. Cronjager dislikes the fact Marlowe has not kept the police up to date on... (full context)
The Corruption of Society Theme Icon
Cynicism and Survival Theme Icon
Wilde interjects, stopping the argument. He demands Marlowe explain why he’s so sure of his story.... (full context)
Cynicism and Survival Theme Icon
...leave, though he later regretted it and placed his friend in a better resting place. Wilde agrees. Marlowe adds Lundgren probably later tailed the books to Joe Brody, and assumed Brody... (full context)
The Corruption of Society Theme Icon
...the table: Geiger’s blackmail letter, Carmen’s photos, and Geiger’s blue notebook. Looking at Geiger’s note, Wilde opines that Geiger was probably seeing if General Sternwood was scared. If the General paid... (full context)
Cynicism and Survival Theme Icon
Wilde asks Marlowe if he has told the full truth. Marlowe admits he has left out... (full context)
Cynicism and Survival Theme Icon
Wilde offers soothing words to Marlowe, excusing Cronjager’s anger. The district attorney tells Marlowe he’ll need... (full context)
The Corruption of Society Theme Icon
Wealth, Status, and Social Mobility Theme Icon
Wilde tells Marlowe that his father was good friends with General Sternwood, and Wilde himself has... (full context)
The Corruption of Society Theme Icon
Wealth, Status, and Social Mobility Theme Icon
...General had bonded with Rusty and simply wishes 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 20
Cynicism and Survival Theme Icon
Gregory asks if Marlowe knows District Attorney Wilde. Marlowe explains he’s an ex-cop who used to work for Wilde, and knows Ohls well.... (full context)
Chapter 23
The Corruption of Society Theme Icon
Wealth, Status, and Social Mobility Theme Icon
Cynicism and Survival Theme Icon
...the question. Instead, he asks how much General Sternwood knows. Mrs. Regan figures District Attorney Wilde tells the General everything. (full context)
Chapter 30
Wealth, Status, and Social Mobility Theme Icon
...again. He thinks back to the previous night, when he had driven to District Attorney Wilde’s place with Mona and told the police the whole story. He had taken them to... (full context)