The Big Sleep

Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Vintage edition of The Big Sleep published in 1939.
Chapter 1 Quotes

Over the entrance doors … there was a broad stained-glass panel showing a knight in dark armor rescuing a lady who was tied to a tree and didn’t have any clothes on but some very long and convenient hair … I stood there and thought that if I lived in the house, I would sooner or later have to climb up there and help him. He didn’t seem to be really trying.

Related Characters: Philip Marlowe (speaker)
Related Symbols: Knights
Page Number: 3
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation long mobile

Unlock explanations and citation info for this and every other The Big Sleep quote.

Plus so much more...

Get LitCharts A+
Already a LitCharts A+ member? Sign in!
Chapter 11 Quotes

He didn’t know the right people. That’s all a police record means in this rotten crime-ridden country.

Related Characters: Vivian Regan (speaker), Philip Marlowe, Owen Taylor
Page Number: 57
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

“You ought to stop some of that flash gambling,” I said.

“With the syndicate we got in this county? Be your age, Marlowe.”

Related Characters: Philip Marlowe (speaker), Bernie Ohls (speaker)
Page Number: 62
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
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:
Quotes explanation short mobile
Chapter 13 Quotes

His eyes went narrow. The veneer had flaked off him, leaving a well-dressed hard boy with a Luger.

Related Characters: Philip Marlowe (speaker), Eddie Mars
Related Symbols: Money
Page Number: 71
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

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:
Quotes explanation short mobile

The muzzle of the Luger looked like the mouth of the Second Street tunnel, but I didn’t move. Not being bullet proof is an idea I had had to get used to.

Related Characters: Philip Marlowe (speaker), Eddie Mars
Page Number: 73
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
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:
Quotes explanation short mobile
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:
Quotes explanation short mobile

“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:
Quotes explanation short mobile

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
Chapter 20 Quotes

“General Sternwood’s a rich man,” I said. “He’s an old friend of the D.A.’s father. If he wants to hire a fulltime boy to run errands for him, that’s no reflection on the police. It’s just a luxury he is able to afford himself.”

Related Characters: Philip Marlowe (speaker), General Sternwood, Captain Al Gregory
Related Symbols: Knights, Money
Page Number: 120
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

He’s got friends in town, or he wouldn’t be what he is.

Page Number: 125
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
Chapter 21 Quotes

Eddie Mars would have been very unlikely to involve himself in a double murder just because another man had gone to town with the blonde he was not even living with … If there had been a lot of money involved, that would be different. But fifteen grand wouldn't be a lot of money to Eddie Mars. He was no two-bit chiseler like Brody.

Related Symbols: Money
Page Number: 128
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

Carol Lundgren, the boy killer with the limited vocabulary, was out of circulation for a long, long time, even if they didn’t strap him in a chair over a bucket of acid. They wouldn’t, because he would take a plea and save the county money. They all do when they don't have the price of a big lawyer.

Related Characters: Philip Marlowe (speaker), Joe Brody, Carol Lundgren
Related Symbols: Cyanide, Money
Page Number: 127
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

I have my pipe line into headquarters, or I wouldn’t be here. I get them the way they happen, not the way you read them in the papers.

Related Characters: Eddie Mars (speaker), Philip Marlowe, Captain Al Gregory
Page Number: 131
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

I wish old Sternwood would hire himself a soldier like you on a straight salary, to keep those girls of his home at least a few nights a week.

Related Symbols: Knights, Money
Page Number: 133
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
Chapter 23 Quotes

“We’re his blood. That’s the hell of it.” She stared at me in the mirror with deep, distant eyes. “I don’t want him to die despising his own blood. It was always wild blood, but it wasn’t always rotten blood.”

Related Characters: Vivian Regan (speaker), Philip Marlowe, General Sternwood
Page Number: Book Page 148
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

That makes you just a killer at heart, like all cops.

Related Characters: Vivian Regan (speaker), Philip Marlowe
Page Number: 149
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
Chapter 24 Quotes

I looked down at the chessboard. The move with the knight was wrong. I put it back where I had moved it from. Knights had no meaning in this game. It wasn’t a game for knights.

Related Characters: Philip Marlowe (speaker), Carmen Sternwood
Related Symbols: Knights
Page Number: Book Page 156
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
Chapter 25 Quotes

You can have a hangover from other things than alcohol. I had one from women. Women made me sick.

Related Characters: Philip Marlowe (speaker), Vivian Regan, Carmen Sternwood
Page Number: 159
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

She’s a grifter, shamus. I’m a grifter. We’re all grifters. So we sell each other out for a nickel.

Related Symbols: Money
Page Number: 168
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

He puffed evenly and stared at me level-eyed, a funny little hard guy I could have thrown from home plate to second base. A small man in a big man's world. There was something I liked about him.

Related Characters: Philip Marlowe (speaker), Harry Jones
Page Number: 168
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
Chapter 28 Quotes

Once outside the law you’re all the way outside. You think he’s just a gambler. I think he’s a pornographer, a blackmailer, a hot car broker, a killer by remote control, and a suborner of crooked cops. He’s whatever looks good to him, whatever has the cabbage pinned to it. Don’t try to sell me on any high-souled racketeers. They don’t come in that pattern.

Related Characters: Philip Marlowe (speaker), Eddie Mars, Mona Mars
Page Number: 194
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
Chapter 30 Quotes

Being a copper I like to see the law win. I'd like to see the flashy well-dressed mugs like Eddie Mars spoiling their manicures in the rock quarry at Folsom, alongside of the poor little slum-bred hard guys that got knocked over on their first caper and never had a break since. That’s what I’d like. You and me both lived too long to think I’m likely to see it happen. Not in this town, not in any town half this size, in any part of this wide, green and beautiful U.S.A. We just don’t run our country that way.

Related Characters: Captain Al Gregory (speaker), Philip Marlowe, Eddie Mars, Mona Mars
Related Symbols: Money
Page Number: 204
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

The knight in the stained-glass window still wasn’t getting anywhere untying the naked damsel from the tree.

Related Characters: Philip Marlowe (speaker), General Sternwood
Related Symbols: Knights
Page Number: 209
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
Chapter 32 Quotes

What did it matter where you lay once you were dead? In a dirty sump or in a marble tower on top of a high hill? You were dead, you were sleeping the big sleep, you were not bothered by things like that.

Related Characters: Philip Marlowe (speaker), Terrence “Rusty” Regan
Related Symbols: Money
Page Number: 230
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

Me, I was part of the nastiness now … But the old man didn’t have to be. He could lie quiet in his canopied bed, with his bloodless hands folded on the sheet, waiting.

Related Characters: Philip Marlowe (speaker), General Sternwood
Related Symbols: Money
Page Number: 230
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
No matches.