The Big Sleep

Rain and Storms Symbol Analysis

Rain and Storms Symbol Icon

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 the opening pages of the novel, a storm is brewing in the foothills behind the Sternwood mansion. This suggests that trouble is on the way, darkening the horizon as Marlowe agrees to take on a case that will see him beaten, shot at, tied up, and on the wrong side of the city police. Rain notably starts to fall as Marlowe tails Sternwood’s blackmailer, Arthur Gwynn Geiger. Following Geiger back to his house, Marlowe notes a camera flash goes off within the house “like a wave of summer lightning,” the climax before three shots ring out from inside and Geiger falls to the floor. Later in the novel, the rain returns as Marlowe approaches Mona Mars’s hiding place, anticipating a showdown with her lethal bodyguard Lash Canino. Marlowe notably kills his adversary amid a dramatic deluge. Yet just as Marlowe cannot control the torrential rain ripping through the roof of his convertible, neither can he control the wider immoral climate of 1930s L.A., as the city sweeps Marlowe away in its tide of “nastiness” just as it does everyone else.

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Rain and Storms Symbol Timeline in The Big Sleep

The timeline below shows where the symbol Rain and Storms appears in The Big Sleep. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Wealth, Status, and Social Mobility Theme Icon
A storm gathers as first-person narrator Philip Marlowe arrives at the Sternwood mansion near the hills. He... (full context)
Chapter 3
Wealth, Status, and Social Mobility Theme Icon
Masculinity Theme Icon
...Mrs. Regan’s vast upper sitting room, decorated in white and ivory, Marlowe can see the storm approaching through the window. The detective looks at Mrs. Regan, whom he thinks is “trouble.”... (full context)
Cynicism and Survival Theme Icon
The storm has made it to the nearby hills as Marlowe walks through the grounds toward his... (full context)
Chapter 5
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... (full context)
Chapter 6
Wealth, Status, and Social Mobility Theme Icon
The storm has finally hit as Marlowe sits in his flooding car, as rain pours through the... (full context)
The Corruption of Society Theme Icon
Wealth, Status, and Social Mobility Theme Icon
Marlowe stakes out the house amid the “driving rain” with his whiskey in hand. After some time, in which Marlowe notes the street is... (full context)
Chapter 8
The Corruption of Society Theme Icon
...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 he walks. (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... (full context)
The Corruption of Society Theme Icon
...they say, which has splintered. The incident must have occurred around 9:00 p.m., after the rain stopped the previous night, as the wood inside the beams of the pier is dry.... (full context)
Chapter 25
The Corruption of Society Theme Icon
...why Captain Gregory hadn’t found Mona yet. Maybe he hadn’t tried, he wonders, as the rain falls. (full context)
Chapter 26
The Corruption of Society Theme Icon
Cynicism and Survival Theme Icon
The rain has stopped but the roads are “flooded” as Marlowe drives to Jones’s office, “a nasty... (full context)
Chapter 27
Cynicism and Survival Theme Icon
The rain is falling hard as Marlowe drives north. He passes through towns and empty fields. As... (full context)
Cynicism and Survival Theme Icon
...sips. It’s safe. The men make small talk as Art’s cursing drifts in from the rain. (full context)
Chapter 28
Cynicism and Survival Theme Icon
...kisses her before he does. She kisses him back. Marlowe leaves, walking out into the rain. (full context)
Chapter 29
Cynicism and Survival Theme Icon
...run into Canino or Art as he goes back to his car in the pouring rain. He thinks about Mona, who hid to protect Eddie, whom she loves. He also thinks... (full context)