The Big Sleep


Raymond Chandler

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on The Big Sleep can help.


In The Big Sleep, cyanide poison reflects the fact that grim and shameful deaths are largely reserved for the lower criminal classes in 1930s L.A., while certain “elite” criminals remain untouchable. Cyanide thus highlights…

read analysis of Cyanide


Knights in The Big Sleep symbolize private detective Philip Marlowe himself, and come to specifically reflect his growing sense of powerlessness to combat the immorality around him. Marlowe is often referred to by other characters…

read analysis of Knights


In author Raymond Chandler’s depiction of 1930s L.A., the characters’ obsession with money represents how society’s focus on personal gain causes social immobility and moral decay. Those who scramble to make a little money find…

read analysis of Money

Rain and Storms

Storms and rain symbolize impending trouble throughout The Big Sleep, the ominous weather building tension as the plot moves toward its two main deadly climaxes. As Marlowe meets with his client General Sternwood in…

read analysis of Rain and Storms